What Questions Will An External IT Provider Ask When I Call?
If you are considering external IT support, you may be hesitant to start the conversation because you are unsure what questions you will need to answer.
I can help! I work for an external IT support provider and have been on many initial calls with people just like you.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the information we usually discuss during our initial calls so that you will feel more confident and comfortable calling the providers you are interested in contacting.
The fact is that most providers will need the same basic information to be able to begin to give you a feel for what you can expect in terms of onboarding timeline, support, maintenance, and cost.
Expect These Questions When You Call An External IT Provider
While each provider may ask for slightly different information, here are some of the most common questions you can expect to be asked:
1. Current State Of IT
How is your IT currently supported? If you have an external provider, how are you charged? When does your contract renew? Who handles licenses?
How many and what type of access points do you have? How many and what types of switches do you have? What do you use for a firewall or firewalls? Anything you wish was different? What types of devices do you use and what is the average age of the hardware?
How are your phones supported? Do employees use their own devices or company-issued equipment? How are they supported?
Related article: What Do I Need To Know About Software Licenses?
2. Size Of Organization
How many users/devices does your organization have? (These could be two different numbers if people share devices.)
Does your staff work at one location or multiple? If multiple, how many locations in total? What percentage of your workforce is remote?
Do you have physical servers (on-site or on-prem)? If so, how many, what type and how old are they?
Is your environment hosted in the cloud? Do you have a hybrid environment (combination of on-site and cloud)?
Related article: What Are The Pros & Cons Of Cloud Computing? Is It Right For You?
If your staff works at multiple locations, are the sites networked so they can communicate electronically? Do people at different sites share documents? Do you have networked printers? Do you use a virtual private network?
Related article: What Is A Virtual Private Network? Do I Need One?
Do you use encryption? Do you have endpoint protection in place? Do you use multi-factor authentication?
Do you use anti-spam and anti-malware software? Do you provide security awareness training for employees? Do you monitor your network and devices for unauthorized access? Do you have specific security concerns? Do you back up your data?
Related article: What Is Employee Security Awareness Training? Do I Need It?
6. Maintenance & Support
How do you handle routine maintenance (such as updates and patching)? How is support handled? (Internally? Externally? What about after hours?)
Do you have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan? Is your IT budget and strategy aligned with your business strategy?
Related article: Why Is It Important To Align IT And Business Strategy?
8. Contractual Or Regulatory Requirements
Do you have specific technology requirements that are dictated by your contracts or industry?
What is your timeline? Are you looking to onboard quickly? Would you prefer to wait for a slow time of year for your business?
Again, each provider may ask a slightly different set of questions, but if you are prepared to answer those outlined above, you should be in good shape. And, you may not know all of the answers right out of the gate: that’s okay. We have plenty of initial meetings in which all of the detailed information isn’t readily available. There is always time for follow up.
What’s The Bottom Line?
We know it can be overwhelming to place the initial call to an external IT provider, especially if you aren’t a technology expert.
The good news is that after reading this article, you have a complete understanding of the kinds of questions you may be asked in an initial phone call, giving you the opportunity to be prepared and the confidence to reach out.
You know that the provider will likely ask about your current IT environment, size of your organization, number and types of servers, facilities, security, maintenance and support, strategy, and unique requirements. They will also want to know how quickly you'd like to begin working together.
Keep in mind that the provider you choose to partner with should be more than willing to help you through this process. If they aren’t, that should be a red flag. The external provider will be an extension of your business; make sure they are a good fit and will represent your business well.
Now that you have a full understanding of the kinds of questions to expect, you are well prepared to begin the process of talking with external IT providers. And, don’t forget, in the same way that a job interview should be a two-way conversation, make sure you have questions for the provider as well.
When exploring external IT providers, make sure to check out several options to ensure that you get one that is the right fit for your organization. We take this advice so seriously that we’ve even done some of the legwork for you. We’ve published several articles in our Kelser Learning Center that compare our offering to that of our competitors.
Learn how Charles IT and Kelser measure up to each other based on publicly available information from each organization’s website.
If you are ready to begin the conversation or have questions, click the button below and one of our IT solutions experts will reach out to schedule a 15-minute exploratory call to see if we are a good fit to work together.