Finding a Better Tech Team – IT Results You Deserve
The best tech teams deliver the results in their agreements, make suggestions to business tech practices, and leave their clients in a better situation than they found them. That track record is required, and if they can’t show you their results, it’s time to look elsewhere or be extremely willing to help out a newcomer to the market
Whether you’re on the fence about your current team or desperately need something better as soon as possible, here are a few things to look for in your next IT department. Ask about tools and specific techniques that fit your business needs, but be sure to gauge how well they perform with their past clients — or at least how consistent they are from dispatch to delivery.
Fixes, Documentation, and Following Up
Is your current tech team struggling to keep up? Did your old tech experts promote themselves by getting a job somewhere else, or did COVID-19 create a huge talent gap that needs to be filled ASAP? Quizzing individual tech and managed IT service leadership is a good start, and giving trial runs to fix existing problems is even better. Unfortunately, testing doesn’t prove consistency.
If you find a managed IT services team that fixes your problem, it’s time to celebrate. You needed the job done and they could’ve saved you thousands or millions in losses, but it’s also time to set the tone for a continued relationship. If you’re dealing with experts, they’re already setting the tone with you. If you’re dealing with skilled novices, a bit of business best practices can go a long way.
You can set the tone with both veterans and novices by doing one single thing: ask about their trouble tickets.
Trouble tickets, issue tracking, issue management. Whatever they call it, you want to know how they handle their daily fixes, documentation, and follow-ups. If they have no idea what they’re using, run away. If they’re not using a ticket system that you’re familiar with, stay along for the ride for now.
Although some personal details need to be sanitized, they should be able to share a few completed tickets. Some companies may cherry-pick their favorite tickets from their best techs, while others may be all too happy to let you scroll through all of their tickets. The latter is a bit scary as far as security compliance goes, but that’s a different discussion that isn’t relevant for every business.
Look for a confirmation of the issue, what was done to solve the issue, and look for explanations. One-line fixes for all tickets isn’t a good thing, but massive documents that read like a mechanical engineering textbook or The Silmarillion aren’t necessary for simple fixes.
Make Scalability Less of a Buzzword
The word scalable is thrown around a lot, and for many businesses, it just means that managed IT services teams can install something that works for different numbers of users, data loads, and pricing needs. It’s important, but it’s also becoming standard. Now it’s time for you to figure out what your options are and just how scalable the team really is.
Let’s say your current needs include repairing a dozen workstations and network issues per day, or handling trouble tickets for 50-100 users. All of those users won’t be calling at once, but they could. The call volume isn’t that big, and most of the work is on the shoulders of the help desk with a few engineers guaranteeing smooth sailing.
What if your business grows and you suddenly have a much bigger team? They don’t have to be high level hires; some companies simply acquire call centers or hire their own call center. Anything can be done as a service, including call center management.
Tangents about pop-up call centers aside, you might have a month to prepare for double, triple or more users in your company once they’re trained up. Now their high call volume is partially your IT staff’s call volume. Can your current IT staff handle the increased volume? If they weren’t prepared before COVID-19, are they prepared for the unprecedented demand that challenges current call center juggernauts?
That’s not an open-ended sales pitch line. Ask them. Maybe they have a call center team that they can flip on and off like a switch. Active Directory and basic break-fix isn’t hard, and attitude aside, college kids can handle it. That said, there’s no guarantee that a third-party IT team has the resources on hand for the next step in your company’s evolution.
At this point, you need to hear one of three types of plans:
- A plan to support your growing needs with X number of calls/emails/contacts, X amount of issues, and X amount of on-call
- A plan to hire and train the needed staff for you
- An honest admission of not being prepared, but willingness to develop a solution
While the last plan might not be the best, you can at least follow up with their intent and see their results. These probing questions help you confirm what should be in your SLA (service-level agreement) while simultaneously giving technicians everything they need to make you happy.
It’s just like a site survey or meeting with a project management team, except you’re getting a lot of the questions answered before one of many meetings. Everyone involved saves time, and everyone gets a head start at building the tech support culture you need today, tomorrow, and years to come.