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Hiring a managed IT service provider is of great importance and I bring a unique perspective to this topic of conversation. Why?…you ask. Not only do I currently own and operate a managed IT and cyber security company, but for the past decade I owned and grew a 100 employee commercial landscape company that just like you, had to hire an IT service provider. And like most things in life, I learned what “not” to do when hiring an IT company. So here are the top 3 things that I learned in the process that ended with success…

  1. Small enough to care about your company, but also big enough to provide great services.                                     The small local guy has limited resources. If he’s a one man band and he goes on vacation then you’d better hope that you won’t need something or have problems while he’s gone. Having a team vs. one person is much better for problem solving. The team has multiple skill sets, experience, and areas of expertise and they can lean on each other to better problem solve any issue that your company may encounter with your infrastructure. On the other end of the spectrum, if you hire a huge national firm, sure they have a large budget and access to resources. But unless you too are a national or public company it can be difficult to be noticed. Let’s face it, the psychology around this is unavoidable. If they have a client that is worth less than an percent of a percent of their revenue and they have a client that represents 10% or more, we know who will get the most attention when needed. It shouldn’t be, but that’s just how it is. From these two failures I finally learned that I prefer to work with companies that are small enough that I get to shake the owner’s hand, but big enough to provide excellent service and resources.
  2.  Shared core values                                                                                                                                                     Hiring a managed IT company is no different than hiring an employee. You wouldn’t want to hire an employee that didn’t have at least a similar moral compass and business outlook than you and your team’s culture. Integrity, quality, having a culture that cares about each other, etc. I would highly recommend visiting their office if possible. Meet a couple of their Tech Team members. A positive work environment produces positive results. And that benefits your team greatly if you partner with them. Especially because they are about to “join” your team. Managed IT is all about proactive, ongoing service. Therefore they are an extension of your team. Make sure that you have some shared core values
  3. Reputation                                                                                                                                                                           A company’s reputation speaks wonders about them. As the saying goes, “history repeats itself”. So having a glimpse of their past can help guide you to how they may deal with the future. Online reviews, testimonials, and reaching out to a few of their references are the best way to find out about a company’s past dealings and performance. And look for bad reviews too. Everyone makes mistakes, so one bad review shouldn’t turn you away just yet. Ask the IT provider about a bad review and how they dealt with it. See how they responded to the review. Ask their references what they think that the company’s strength and weaknesses are. Find out if they have messed up, and how they dealt with it. This can be super revealing of the character and ability of any business. And as previously stated, history tends to repeat itself.

Managed IT & cyber security services are an ongoing relationship. The provider becomes your IT department. They will interact with your employees, proactively monitor your IT infrastructure, consult you on protecting your precious company and client data. They are truly a security insurance blanket that protects your reputation by ensuring that your company’s data stays safe. No business can afford downtime, and their job is to prevent and minimize exactly that. Knowing how important the relationship is, you owe it to yourself and your team to do your due diligence when hiring your managed IT provider.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Mike Thackrey                                                                                                                                                                          CEO                                                                                                                                                                                            Vine IT                                                                                                                                                                     MThackrey@vineIT.com  or www.VineIT.com