Faye Eldridge, Founder of Fyami.com, a tech and marketing consultancy, has worked with technology firms for over 10 years. Below, Faye advises SMEs on what to check before signing up to a new IT solutions provider.

How important is your business, your security, your customer’s data and your businesses productivity? How important is it that when you can’t work due to a tech issue, it gets resolves very quickly?

How important is it, that when you need IT support, you not only get a skilled person helping you that knows what they are talking about, but they know you and your business, and they genuinely give a damn at making sure your issue is resolved? You need an IT firm who understands how important it is to make sure your tech problems are resolved, fast and effectively – But, it really isn’t just about getting a high level of support anymore. Businesses need more than support. They need technology that enables their business to be successful.

So, before you sign your life away to the wrong IT company – Make sure you do this.

1. Have you visited the IT firm’s offices? Have you seen how they work? If not, you or someone else in your team should.

2. Have you met more than just a salesman? If not, you are making a huge mistake signing anything. I am not saying, not to trust a sales man, I am saying – The sales man isn’t the one providing you with support. Meet the team.

3. Speak to their clients. Do your own research, make contact, ask real questions and get real feedback.

Ask these questions before you sign;

1. What are your response times? Check these, check the SLA (service level agreement) and check the stats. A good company will keep records of every incident, so they can measure against their SLA. Ask to see some of these. At the very least, your provider should have a basic monitoring system.

2. Ask about their admin. Yes, I am serious. Do they have proactive admin, records, reports & documentation?

3. Will the Account Managers meet us every so often?

4. Will we get free audits, reviews and recommendations? Your IT provider needs to know your business. They should regularly keep up-to-date with your business, so they can make appropriate recommendations.

5. Do you run ‘tech events,’ on the latest technologies?

6. Do you provide technology training to our employees who may need it?

7. Do you (the IT firm) know about your client’s IT budgets, their financial years and important business dates? Ask the IT firm if they have any client case studies and testimonials.

8. What’s the hand-over process like? Trust me when I say this is a key question. It needs to be smooth, you need to fully understand what happens, how it happens, and the process. You also need to know any other contact person and/or team that you will be dealing with. Otherwise, this could be a ‘muck up,’ on day two.

9. What insurance and cover do you have? Check the documents.

10. Ok, this one is obvious – You check the contract and the terms thoroughly and you ask further questions if you are unsure of any of it.

11. Ask about ‘costs for extras.’ Some IT companies try to lead with a low support agreement price, then add additional charges. I won’t mention any airline names who spring to mind, but I am sure you get the gist of it. Understand what’s included, what isn’t and what is a ‘chargeable extra.’

12. What/who are your credentials & partnerships? How will these help my business? For example, do they have any cyber security accreditations? Are they a Gold Microsoft partner?

13. Do you prioritise people at our company, so for example if the CEO calls, will they take priority? Do you manage a ‘VIP’ names list or is it only based on the ‘IT issue severity?’

14. What do you know about our industry? For example, if you’re a Barristers Chambers then you will most likely prefer a Technology firm supporting you who has other clients in this sector.

15. How many clients do you have and how many are in our sector?

16. How many employees do you have and where are they all based?

Faye Eldridge hopes you find this guide useful.