So you've conducted an IT needs analysis, interviewed IT companies and now you're stuck. Down to a few good candidates and you don't know how to make the final decision. And it's an important one. After all, the company you choose will play a crucial role in the success of your business. So how do you choose between two or three companies that all seem to be able to provide the services you need? |
Factors To Consider When Choosing Between IT Companies
Price. Although you don't want price to be the driving factor in your decision, the reality is it has to be a consideration. You're hiring an IT company to help your business succeed, but you can't very well do that if you're overpaying for services or buying services you can't afford. When comparing proposals look at immediate and long-term costs. Choose the company that meets your short and long-term budget limitations. Beware any firm that won't provide a written cost estimate that spells out the work to be done.
Services. What are you getting for your money? Do the proposals provide services you actually need or are they full of things you'll never use? Make sure you're getting what you pay for and getting what you need. There's no need to pay extra for the possibility that you'll use it "down the road." Technology changes too fast for that kind of thinking. Pay for what you'll use now. Again, steer clear of firms that won't provide this information in writing.
Experience and Expertise. Compare the levels of experience and expertise each firm has with your specific needs. How long have they been providing the services you're seeking? How much of this type of work do they do? Do they hold any certifications in those areas? What kind of college or professional degrees do the staff who will be working on your project hold? How long has the company been in business?
Point of Contact. Find out how the firms operate. Will you work with one primary point of contact throughout the project or will it be the luck of the draw based on whoever is available when you call? Be wary of the latter situation. It is too easy for things to slip through the cracks or for the blame game to get started. How many times have you heard, "Oh, I thought so-and-so was going to handle that." Additionally, how does the point of contact interact with you? Ask to meet with this person before you close the deal if possible. You want someone who will explain things to you in terms you understand and who can communicate well.
Customer Service. What is their customer service like? Will you be taken care of after the project launches? How invested is the firm in the success of your business? References are a great way to check up on IT companies' customer service. Ask for references from your candidates and call them. Find out what kinds of services were provided and how the firm has handled customer service and follow-up since then. When it comes to technology you need a responsive service provider.
Escalation Process. Related to customer service is the escalation process. This refers to the way problems are handled when they come in. Some problems are minor and can be fixed easily. Others are time-sensitive and need to be addressed immediately. Discuss the way the company differentiates between immediate and non-immediate needs and how they prioritize them.
Warranties and Guarantees. What kinds of product or work warranties or guarantees are provided?
References. Ask for references and call them! Ask what services the IT firm provided for them, how it went, was it completed on time? On budget? What were they like to work with? Were there any problems that came up during the process and how were those handled? What is their current relationship with the firm like?
Finally, don't ignore your gut. You will gain a lot of impressions from your interviews with the firm. Pay attention to how the staff treats you, reacts to your questions and provides answers. They'll probably act the same way once they're working on your project. Treat this hiring the same way you'd treat the hire of a new employee and use the same evaluation criteria and you should be able to find a good fit for your organization.
VitalTech strives to be the most Human company in IT by creating strategic partnerships with clients through their exclusive Proactive-IT fixed-fee monthly service. If you're researching IT companies in Chicago, IL and don't want to deal with hourly billing or retainer fees, visit VitalTech at www.vitaltechsolutions.com.
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