Why Choosing a Managed IT Provider on Price Alone is Going to Cost You

Shopping for IT companies on price alone is tantamount to comparing bruised apples to a tender steak. There is no comparison.

It’s understandable when businesses shop for an IT provider based on price but just about every managed IT provider offers a different service so it’s impossible to get an apples-to-apples comparison. Some only fix things as they break. Some are one-and-two-person shops and don’t have the capacity to serve your business. Other IT providers include regular strategic meetings to plan your IT to meet your future goals, use industry best practices and have essential expertise in areas like compliance and security.

This is not to suggest that price considerations be thrown out the window. Price is just one decision-making factor. It’s important to get the level of service, expertise and protection that are going to help your business thrive, grow and achieve your goals.

Choosing your IT provider on price alone is going to cost you: downtime, solutions you may not need, more time spent troubleshooting network issues, security breaches, slow resolution times and a lack of strategic IT planning.

We recommend shopping around and talking to several IT providers. To help you make the best decision for your company, we’ve put together this list:

 7 Things to Ask Managed IT Providers Before You Choose One

1.      How can they align your IT with your business goals?

Technology can and should support your strategic direction just as much as it provides for your day-to-day operations. An IT expert should be there to advise you on how to align your IT with your business goals. Without regular meetings to discuss this essential strategic alignment, your IT provider can’t know what your needs really are. And neither will you. At Deerwood Technologies, we meet with clients regularly and provide quarterly reports that show clients how we are managing their IT and any recommendations we have to keep your IT on track to support your business.

2.      What solutions do they sell?

If they are constantly pushing one vendor, then their focus isn’t on finding the most sensible solutions for your business. They’re more focused on a one-size-fits-all model. Not only does that present specific problems for some industries (such as compliance and integration with line-of-business software), but it underscores that the IT provider is not really going to be a provider who aligns technology with your strategic vision.

3.      What security services are included in their managed services offering?

So many businesses are surprised to learn that having an IT provider doesn’t mean you have good security coverage. Or any, for that matter. Firewalls and antivirus protection are not adequate. Security should be integral into every aspect of your IT environment. Add-ons or ad-hoc solutions will do little to protect your business. Be sure you seek out a firm that has in-house security experts that can offer in-depth, specific recommendations based on your company’s existing environment, needs and goals.

4.      What steps do they take to prevent problems on the network?

IT companies that only fix things are not strategic, are not going to align with your goals and are not going to take steps to prevent things from breaking in the first place. This includes running patches, monitoring, automated alerts and threat detection.

5.      What is their documentation policy?

Documentation is the unsung hero of quality IT care. It’s the systematic record-keeping of your entire IT environment: servers, switches, configurations, software, passwords and so on. This level of information ensures continuous coverage of your IT and makes it possible for you to move to another IT provider with relatively little disruption or confusion on the new IT provider’s part. It also ensures you have what you need to your own systems.

6.      What can they tell you about their standard procedures?

Standard procedures are a great indication of a mature company that has expertise and understands the IT industry. If you say, “tell me about some of your standard procedures” and you get a deer-in-the-headlights response, it’s a red flag.

7.      Do they have referrals you can call?

Credibility is crucial. Ask for referrals and follow through on the phone calls. When you speak to their referral companies, ask questions. Here are two we recommend: 1. How long does it take to get critical problems resolved? 2. What is the IT provider doing to ensure your security?

The important thing to remember is that your IT provider should be able to strategically align with your business and take the burdens of IT off your shoulders.

Outsourcing your IT? Make sure you put your business in expert hands. Contact us today online or call us at 218-534-5357.

How Outsourcing Cybersecurity Can Reduce Risk for Small Businesses

Approximately 60% of small- and medium-sized businesses that are subject to a cyberattack go out of business within six months, according to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance. Multiple studies show cybersecurity attacks are increasingly targeting small businesses as criminals recognize the ease of which they can often infiltrate businesses.

Along with this rise is an industry-wide shortage of IT security expertise, leaving many small- and mid-sized businesses crippled and vulnerable. As you work to understand how to navigate your IT security with these challenges, consider outsourcing your IT.

Outsourcing allows small and large businesses to leverage economies of scale for their IT needs. A recent study from Computer Economics found that security was the fastest growing IT role being outsourced. It’s little surprise, as more companies recognize they can’t insource the right skills to address these varied and complex threats and keep their company safe. That makes security a priority for outsourcing.

By choosing to leverage external resources, these companies can refocus on their core competencies and offload the external pressures created by an ever-changing IT threat landscape, increasing complexities presented by technology and the scarcity of IT employees who can navigate these challenges at a fair price.

There are several benefits to outsourcing IT, especially when it comes to improving your security. Here are our top 5:

  1. Expert IT security you can afford

Comprehensive IT security management calls for expertise in diverse skill areas, typically requiring multiple specialists. At the same time, there is a market-wide shortage of these skills. Hiring and retaining workers with the requisite skills to protect your company is expensive and uncertain. In contrast, you can access a team of such experts by outsourcing and pay flat fees with relative certainty that your IT team is going to be there, protecting you around the clock.

  1. Focus on your core business

Outsourcing your IT even partially can free up critical resources to focus on the core of your business. Your existing IT team can manage infrastructure and all those “keeping the lights on” tasks or turn their attention to strategic initiatives to make your business more effective and competitive. For example, outsourcing your IT security allows your staff technicians to focus on high-impact projects that lead to the success and growth of your business.

  1. Informed policy guidance

The IT threat landscape is always changing, and companies that don’t have a full, expert grasp of the extent of these security risks can’t adequately address them. Creating effective security policies takes in-depth experience that most IT generalists don’t possess. For instance, the IT staff in your company may not be able to accurately assess the effectiveness of your existing security policies or how well your company is keeping up with compliance requirements you’re required to follow.

  1. Unbiased checks and balances

Your IT security is best outsourced because it ensures some necessary degrees of separation between your company and your security checks and balances. Processes like security assessments and recommendations can become sensitive territory when managed internally. Outsourcing puts it in the hands of neutral parties who are fully vested in protecting your organization and can offer verification of that protection.

  1. Comprehensive security coverage

Most companies focus on infrastructure security measures, like firewalls, antivirus and spam-filtering but fail to address internal threats or physical security risks like inappropriate data access or removal and employee security lapses. These actually represent a large risk to organizations. Employees removing confidential information on a USB key or  a busy manager clicking on a phishing link can all have catastrophic results (Make sure you download our new tip sheet to avoid these common risks).

The nuances of these internal threats rely on trained security professionals. it’s not something you can have a regular IT person scout for with enough success to detect all the vulnerabilities.

Outsourcing your IT to a managed IT company with specific security expertise addresses security from all angles, covering your bases and providing safeguards and protections your internal IT staff often don’t have the experience, training and skills to implement and oversee. Given that 60% of small businesses suffering a serious cybersecurity incident go out of business within 6 months, outsourcing your IT security could be one of the most important decisions you make as a business owner.

Who is guarding your business? Contact us today to find out or call us at 218-534-5357.