How to spot red flags when selecting an IT vendor

by - 8 September 2016
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With the vast majority of business processes being conducted digitally, companies need to know how to separate the good, from the bad, from the ugly when it comes to picking the right IT vendor or managed service provider (MSP). A poor vendor can easily translate into increased downtime, employee frustration and obstructed business processes – all of which affect the delivery of your own service offering and, therefore, your bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to be able to identify subpar candidates as early as possible in the IT vendor vetting process.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when selecting an MSP:

Do they have extensive online support?

Maximising uptime is all about fixing problems as quickly as possible, as they arise. But this incessant game of IT whack-a-mole is exponentially more difficult without the help and guidance of the MSP that’s meant to be managing and maintaining your IT system in the first place. As such, make sure they have an online support system that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Do they have all the necessary certifications?

Another sure-fire way to spot a weak IT vendor is a lack of formal certification, licenses and assessments. For instance, it’s a great sign if they have managed to obtain an ISO 9001:2015 certification certification, which indicates their capability to provide consistent and high-quality services. Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask them for their most recent audit or Security Risk Assessment.

Can you find any references or third-party validation?

No matter how well a prospective MSP can talk the talk, proof of their capability will always lie in the satisfaction of their existing customers. In addition to asking for explicit references, consider approaching a range of existing clients for your own independent third-party validation. Keep an eye out for any problematic areas that feature regularly in negative reviews.

Do they have a solid understanding of what your business does?

Enlisting the services of an MSP is committing to a mutually beneficial relationship. As such, the vendor you end up selecting needs to have a thorough understanding of your business and product, as well as the challenges facing your organisation in the context of its wider industry. If the MSP shows little regard for getting to know your company, you’ll likely end up receiving a generic service package that fails to account for the unique requirements of your company’s IT strategy.

Are they overpromising?

If everything a potential MSP promises to deliver seems too good to be true for their given time frame – it probably is. Buying into an unrealistic amount of service delivery can cause frustration and tension throughout your company, increasing downtime and, ultimately, costing you money. Transparent communication is paramount when it comes to the smooth running of your IT processes – and if taking your money means more to an MSP than actually following through with their service delivery, they’re simply not worth your time.

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