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Looking for an IT provider is scary business. While the right company can ensure your business’s success and bright future, the wrong company can ravage your profits and put you behind the competition. You need to know you’re getting the best IT services in Fort Lauderdale at a price you can afford. Vetting IT companies doesn’t have to be frightening. When you know the right questions and have the right expectations, you can tell the good from the bad reasonably well. Here are some important questions and what you should look for in their answers.

Who Is My Primary Point of Contact?

There are several ways an IT company can remain in contact, and all of them are viable. A help-desk line is sufficient for plenty of businesses. Others prefer to have a dedicated engineer who is their first stop in the line of service. When a dedicated engineer isn’t available, service providers might assign an account manager to any given business.

There isn’t a universal best answer to this question. Instead, you want to verify that the primary point(s) of contact is reasonable for how you do business. Keep in mind that this question should also cover emergency contacts. Do you use the same number for emergencies outside of business hours? IT is all about communication, so the priority is to establish lines of contact.

What Do You Know About My Industry?

First and foremost, you want your IT experts to be masters of their field. That said, it is impossible to offer the best possible tech support unless you have at least some understanding of the business being supported. The best possible match will be with an IT company that serves other businesses in your industry. Plenty of service providers will work in “vertical markets” and built up experience in the fields they support.

That won’t always be available from a Fort Lauderdale IT company. If they aren’t already working in your industry, they may still be adaptable enough to learn quickly. You can identify this by having them provide client references. You may find that they already work in similar fields or that their clients are diverse enough to suggest that they can handle new fields without issue.

How Do Support Tickets Work?

Matching with your service provider is a matter of aligning expectations. You want to have a clear idea of the support process before you commit to anything. Part of this question is answered by knowing your primary point of contact. You still want to know how tickets are prioritized, how they are escalated and if the process changes under any specific circumstances.

You can go one step deeper and add to this question. Do they supply any hardware? There are different ways for an IT company to approach hardware supplies, but the bottom line is that they should be able to get you parts and supplies that you need.

How Would You Change My Network?

This is possibly the most useful question you can ask in getting a real feel for how the IT company works. Any expert worth their salt will have suggestions for any network they see. Most can’t help themselves from making recommendations. The first key you want to see in their response is how they get to know your network. If they haven’t already, they should answer this question with a string of their own. If they’re making suggestions without getting to know your network and business practices, you need to walk away.

The other key is to note how they present their suggestions. The best service providers will be genuinely looking for ways to help you improve your business. They should be able to explain the pros and cons of their suggestions. They should also be able to present clear reasoning behind and ideas in a way you can follow.

What Will You Monitor?

Ultimately, you need to know how they are going to protect you. Help desks and emergency responses are essential, but preventing downtime and other problems is vital. Do they offer network security? Do they defend against DDOS attacks? Will they keep an eye on your website? How do they manage network traffic? Anything that is actively monitored is theoretically better protected from downtime, but it may change the bottom line. What you’re looking for is a provider who can honestly help you weigh the costs and benefits of the choices in front of you.

How Much Does it Cost?

Most people start with this question, but in IT, it usually doesn’t have a single answer. Costs will be determined by the levels of service you need. They might also depend on how long a contract you sign, initial hardware needs and the fees of breaking your current contract. The correct answer to this question will be a custom fit to your business — even if certain aspects of the agreement are fixed. You also want a clear notion of expected downtime during the transition to a new IT provider and if there are separate fees or prices for emergency services. Those are the two most common sources of unpleasant surprises.

Naturally, you want to add any other questions that you feel are vital to your relationship with your IT provider. Only when you are completely satisfied should you consider making a commitment and signing a contract.