2. What are the needs of your small business?
There is a lot to consider as you hire a new provider. Will you pay them hourly or will there be a monthly contract that limits support hours? Will onsite time have an additional cost?
The IT needs of a small business vary based on office size and network complexity. You probably have a gut feel about the needs of your small business – trust it. Just know that choosing a provider only because they are the least expensive is not necessarily the best plan as there may be hidden fees or a lack in service.
Also, make sure to ask any potential consultants if they see anything that should be addressed right away. If multiple providers bring up the same issues, it is a strong indication that you need more proactive support than your old IT consultant was providing.
3. Are there hidden costs?
One of the main reasons small businesses look for a new provider is cost. Hiring an IT consultant can be expensive. Therefore, it makes sense to price out the services.
You want to evaluate any “fixed” or “flat-rate” fees to make sure there aren’t any hidden costs. IT consultants can charge for an overage in monthly hours, have fees built into the projects outside of their “flat-rate” scope and can even make money on reselling products to you. Be knowledgable about their fees – it will allow you to make the best decisions for your business moving forward.
4. Do you like the consultant(s) you’ll be working with?
When you interview a new provider of IT consulting services for your small business, ask who on their team you will be working with. Just because the person you are talking with has a good personality, it doesn’t mean everyone in their office does. Remember: when you are getting computer help, the IT technician will be in your space, sometimes for an extended period.
If you can’t meet the specific technician(s) you will be working with, get their names. When you check the IT company’s references, ask the references about their experience with different members of the team.
5. What is the IT consulting company’s reputation?
A few bad reviews will tell you a lot about a potential provider. Don’t rely solely on the positive quotes on their website. Reviews on can be found on-line through search engines such as Google and Bing. Here is a link to Onset Solution’s google search. You can even check Glassdoor to see how the companies treat their employees. Don’t forget to ask for references. Ideally, you’ll be able to call a few of their customers with a similar office size and within a similar industry.
6. Are there red flags in the contract?
The service agreement you sign will tell a lot about the consulting company. Red flags include having a long term on the contract or a high fee if you exceed your allotted hours. Also, make sure to examine the services offered as well as what is excluded. If something seems unreasonable, it is important to get more information.
Onset Solutions’ guarantee is a good example of why the contract matters.
“Onset Solutions guarantees that our services will be performed for the benefit of our customers. Because of this, there are no term commitments on our agreements and our clients can cancel service at any time. If at any time, the perception of value is lost, then the customer should have the opportunity to meet their needs elsewhere without hassle.”
Contracts for IT consulting services should protect the rights of your small business in addition to those of the provider. Your business should never be held hostage with a contract full of harsh penalties.
Hiring a provider of IT consulting services for a small business is a crucial decision that affects your daily operations. While there are a lot of options out there, they probably aren’t all a good fit for your company.
Asking the right questions can save you from another year (or more) of bad service. Do your homework and hire an outsourced IT provider who will serve as an extension of your team.