Advantages of IT outsourcing are discussed in hundreds of articles published on the Internet. Their authors provide an in-depth analysis of such topics as:
Is it worth using IT services provided by external IT companies?
Does IT outsourcing pay off and what is the price list of IT services?
What is more beneficial: IT outsourcing or in-house IT department?
Is the IT support of a company provided by an external entity safe?
At the same time, it’s rather difficult to find valuable materials about how to choose an IT company. This article is addressed to companies and managers that want to use IT outsourcing and make an optimum choice. The text below will answer the following questions:
What should be taken into account when choosing an outsourcing company?
What should be checked carefully before signing a technical support agreement?
What issues must be addressed in an IT outsourcing agreement?
1. Verify the size and sources of revenue of the IT company
The first recommendation is quite unusual but very valuable. Unfortunately, many IT companies are sole entrepreneurs, or companies employing 2 or 3 people. However, high-quality IT help requires employing many experienced and specialised engineers, such as:
computer network administrator
Windows and Linux server administrator
While talking to prospective customers, we often hear negative opinions about IT companies, which is not surprising to us. IT companies composed of a few employees focus mainly on handling everyday user problems. The low scale of activity of such organisations might cause certain difficulties in providing support in strategic areas, such as:
ensuring data security and updating operating systems on a regular basis,
providing care of the backup copy,
monitoring the IT infrastructure and guaranteeing the continuity of its operation,
executing IT projects that streamline the company operation.
Think twice about cooperation with a company which generates the majority of its revenue from trade rather than service activities. After searching for potential partners (when searching, use such keywords as: IT outsourcing Warsaw, IT support, tech support), look at their profit and loss account. If a given organisation focuses mainly on trade activities, its IT services will not always represent a high quality – often they will merely lure prospective customers.
The most important information about the size of every company and the structure of its revenue can be checked on the website of the Ministry of Justice in the section called Browser of Financial Documents (information only in Polish). You can find the balance sheet and the profit and loss account of a company – these data are available to the public. Also the annual report on activities, which must be filed by every limited liability company with the National Court Register, is a true mine of information. See what an IT company boasts about there before you sign an IT outsourcing agreement.
Every year we sign agreements with new customers, which earlier used IT services provided by small entities employing a few people. In most cases, it turns out that such IT companies do not operate in line with industry standards or good practices. An example here can be the backup policy – most often none is in place.
After you have verified the size and sources of revenue of potential IT companies, you’ll eliminate 50–70% of the offers and save a lot of time.
2. Ask about IT support standards
Has the IT company implemented the ISO 27001 standard and does it hold a special third party liability insurance for IT activities? These are the two questions that you must ask first at a business conversation.
The ISO 27001 certificate is a guarantee that your confidential data transmitted to an outsourcing company will be protected properly. Third party liability insurance, in turn, proves that a given entity treats its business seriously.
Remember also that you don’t have to sign an agreement on regular IT support or IT outsourcing right away. Suggest that the outsourcing company should perform an IT audit. On its basis, the potential business partner will present its recommendations of changes and improvements of the IT infrastructure, or maybe even suggest the implementation of new tools or applications. Then you’ll learn if the IT company proposes the right IT support for your business.
3. Check opinions about the outsourcing company in an unusual way
Ask about a possibility to have a short telephone conversation with the existing customers to which the IT company provides IT support. Perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to contact a customer with similar characteristics to your business? This will make your decision easier.
It’s best to talk to the owner, president, or head of the IT department. Remember that satisfied customers are very eager to give such references and every good IT company will not see this as a problem.
Ask the company supposed to perform IT support if it provides IT services to customers that are subordinate to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority. If yes, then this company had to meet stringent requirements and procedures applicable in the industry.
4. Do some research about the IT company and data security
Every IT company which is responsible for server administration or network administration has access to your sensitive data. Ask about data backup (it would be best if you asked right away for a specific recommendation as to a backup copy policy), ask about a disaster recovery plan (DRP), ask for tips regarding edge devices – routers, firewalls. An outsourcing company should present ready scenarios of protection of your data.
5. Review the IT outsourcing agreement
Ask about what exactly the potential partner guarantees and if all this is specified in the IT outsourcing agreement:
Does the agreement clearly indicate standards of IT service availability (SLA)?
Is the performance of routine obligations of a server administrator, such as checking the correctness of the backup copy or uploading security patches periodically, is guaranteed in writing?
Are the key IT infrastructure components covered by 24/7 monitoring?
How does the IT company examine the quality of its services?
Does the IT support agreement guarantee preparation of a backup copy policy as part of the IT support?
Do the IT services specified in the agreement cover also IT support in emergencies, i.e. 24/7?
Every service provider will surely have its outsourcing agreement template, which should be reviewed against the above points.
6. Ask about IT projects and implementations
Apart from the classic set of services: helpdesk, server administration, computer network management, IT audit, or network and server monitoring, an outsourcing company should provide broadly understood IT consulting. Sooner or later, your company will have to:
replace a business server with a new one or use a dedicated server offer,
upgrade the operating systems on the servers,
migrate the applications and databases,
use cloud services for business (e.g. Microsoft cloud, Google cloud solutions),
recognise the topic of business digitalization,
implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP),
consider cloud backup,
think about high availability (HA) solutions,
Before signing an agreement, it’s worth asking the company that offers IT outsourcing if it is experienced in the field that goes beyond classic IT support. If the end-to-end IT support covers also IT consulting, this is a perfect situation.
7. IT outsourcing – something more?
At the end, think about if there is something more an IT company can do to support your business. Larger IT companies operate in groups. One company provides IT services, while other ones can offer:
cloud services, e.g. private cloud,
other cloud solutions, e.g. Microsoft Azure.
Support Online – IT services Warsaw
Established in 2002. Since the beginning of our operation, IT support in Warsaw and in the Mazovian Voivodship has been our most popular service. At present, we deliver IT services for: Kraków and Gdynia. We employ more than 100 engineers.
IT outsourcing more and more often covers services that can be supplied fully by remote means in whole Poland, such as
If you want to learn more about Support Online and IT outsourcing, please contact us by email or telephone.