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15 Questions to Ask When Hiring an IT Provider


As a business owner, you need more than a basic understanding of all parts of your business. But being an expert in all disciplines, IT for example, may never be a possibility. In this case, hiring an IT provider to work with your staff to manage and safeguard your valuable data is a task that takes careful consideration.


Look for a Provider...and a Partner

Today's businesses rely on all types of data for daily operations, making information technology one of the most important functions of your business. Having a trusted partner who understands your business and stays ahead of the technology curve is an asset that can literally save your business in case of a data loss or disaster. 

But here comes the challenge: if you're not an IT expert, how do you know how to proceed when hiring an IT provider?

In many ways, hiring an IT provider is similar to hiring other people for your organization, from your front desk associates to your sales team:

  • You reach out to trusted friends and professional colleagues for referrals

  • You vet candidates' background and experience (view website, online reviews, online case studies) 

  • You inquire about services with an initial phone interview

  • You invite the finalists for an office visit and interview.

By this point, you should have a good idea of the type of the company who will best complement your organization – for example, an innovator, a collaborator or a mixture of the two.

If you don't have a clear idea of the functions your IT provider should perform, now is the ideal time to learn. Take advantage of web resources and the interview process to fill in any gaps in your knowledge. After all, your IT provider should be skilled at explaining technology in clear, concise terms. By viewing your learning curve as an opportunity, you could learn more than you ever have about technology in the process of hiring an IT provider.

15 Questions for a Potential IT Provider

To prepare for your meeting with potential providers, you can refer to the following list of questions. There are 15 questions, broken into three categories: background, technical ability and communication style. 

Background Questions

  1. How long has your company been in business? Please describe your staff and their skill levels/experience. What are your hours of operation? 

  2. Do your employees perform all services directly or do you outsource work to others?

  3. How many customers do you serve and what industries do they specialize in?

  4. Can you provide references who are current customers?

  5. Do you work in mostly specialized industries or with all types of businesses?

Technical Questions

  1. What are your service options? How would our agreement be structured, including the point person or team we would be working with? What is your policy regarding emergency services?

  2. Does your company offer full IT managed services or backup/disaster recovery only?

  3. What hardware, software and operating systems do you support?

  4. Can you provide comprehensive communications technologies, such VoIP phone service, audio, video and installation for all products? Can you advise us on cloud services and options? 

  5. Do you have agreements with vendors for the bulk purchase of computers, servers and software that could save us money?

Communication Style Questions

  1. Please describe your company culture and how you work with your customers. Do you get to know them personally as well as professionally?

  2. How do you measure the results of your efforts?

  3. What is your process for on-site, remote and help desk support if we were to hire you and we need assistance?

  4. Will you provide a written proposal of services and plan for implementation, along with costs and assigned responsibilities?

  5. What are the step-by-step actions to get started with your services?

Don't forget the so-called “art of the follow-up,” or pausing before asking candidates to amplify or illustrate their points. Ask for specific examples. The stories you hear might shed more light on the candidates than their original answers. 

Evaluating and Hiring 

You'll learn a lot about a company — and about your own organization — through the conversation that follows these questions. 

In the end, two critical factors in your decision will be 1) expertise (will they get the job done well?) and 2) company "fit" (will this provider be a good "fit" with your team?) At the end of the search and interview process, you still shouldn't expect to be an IT expert. But that's more than OK, because at least you will have found the very best one to join your team.

For more advice on hiring an IT provider in the Cleveland area, or anywhere, you can refer to our helpful e-book shown below. 

Image credit: questions

Evaluating IT Companies in Cleveland



Topics: IT Management

blog author

Todd Tramba

Todd is a veteran in the IT industry with 35 years of experience with companies like JD Edwards, Ariba, Iron Mountain and Oracle. He currently serves as TCC's Vice President of Business Development and Marketing. Todd is active in several Cleveland-area Chambers of Commerce and other business networking groups.