How do you choose the best IT consultant or reseller for your business? What should you look for and what service levels should you expect? What other sources of IT help can your business use?
Smaller businesses can’t always afford full-time, in-house IT staff. But to make the most of your IT system, you’ll need help on many different levels from selection and installation through to fixing problems and future growth. Therefore, getting IT support when you need it is essential.
IT support checklist
Choosing the right IT support services can seem hard at first, especially for non-geeks, even if you understand the basics of what you need. With the right support, however, you can use technology to support your business, to achieve your goals and even to create new opportunities in the long term.
- Shortlist. Your first task is to find a shortlist of suitable support specialists. Manufacturers often have lists of recommended partners and this can be a good place to start. Talk to your colleagues, business contacts and suppliers to see if they have any recommendations.
- Credentials. Any supplier that you choose should have a mix of formal qualifications and experience in their field. You may also find it useful to talk to specialists who have worked in your business sector. Check that they understand the requirements of a growing business. Ask for information on their client base, their projects and their support capabilities. Check references. Ask questions about their ability to deliver solutions, proposals and projects on time and on budget.
- Services. Look for a candid response to your questions about services. If the supplier cannot help you with all your potential support needs (such as training), can they bring in a recommended partner? Ask if the supplier only uses internal staff or whether it outsources any project work.
- Organizational capabilities. Avoid companies that are too small to give you the support that you need both now and when your business grows. Check to see how quickly they will respond to support issues and what guarantees or service level agreements (SLAs) they give.
- Relationship. An average support specialist will understand the language of technology. A good support specialist will translate it into a language you understand. A support specialist worth hiring will do all this and will understand how technology can help you achieve your current and future business goals.
- Proposal. Expect a clear proposal outlining each project from brief through to implementation. This should include a total breakdown of costs, deliverables and timescales. It should also include any input that you need to make. Look for regular meetings/updates to keep on track. Commit to both parties signing a formal contract/proposal to protect your interests.
- Costs. Assess costs and charging structure. You may be asked to pay a rolling retainer, a flat cost per project or a set rate per hour or day. Milestone payments can spread the risk and cash flow.
- HP has a network of Preferred Partners who offer a range of support solutions including consulting and advisory options, hardware installation/configuration, infrastructure builders and online services. To find an HP partner near you, visit: hp.com/eur/preferredpartners .
- HP’s Care Pack services allow you to add specific support elements on top of your warranty guarantees. There are various levels of support to choose from and services can be used on all of HP’s standard products including PCs, Notebooks and Handhelds, Servers, Storage, Networking Systems, Software, Printing and Digital Imaging. For further information HP Care Pack Services, please visit: hp.com/go/lookuptool.
- HP Total Care is a range of services, software and support options that will help you manage, protect and grow your business. It includes HP’s award-winning technical support and solutions such as recycling, extended warranties, online access to drivers and other software updates. For additional details on HP Total Care, please visit: hp.eu/totalcare