How to solve short-term problems while planning for long-term success.

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Selecting the right IT partner: what you need to know.

We’ve all been there: a desktop or laptop crashes, bringing productivity to a halt. If you’re lucky, you have a tech-savvy friend or hard-working employee who will go the extra mile to try to keep computers in working order. Or maybe you know an IT professional who’s available to diagnose problems and resolve major issues.

The problem, though, is that when you really need assistance—at 4:00 PM on a Friday with a big deadline looming, say, or 8:00 AM on Monday when your inbox is full of important messages—that person may not be available to immediately respond to your request for service. What then? Now you and your employees aren’t able to work while downtime affects productivity and decreases revenue.

An IT partner is an invaluable resource—especially as cybersecurity challenges increase and the demand for help grows. Most IT support specialists claim to have the same goal: enabling business success by leveraging technology to solve everyday problems.

But how do you choose the right provider?

How do you know if a prospective vendor will maintain day-to-day operations, protect business data, and empower your employees to remain productive during the switch?

Maybe it’s better to stick with the lackluster support you know than risk everything on a fresh start. But here’s the thing: in the long run, proactive IT services cost far less than reactive or break/fix services.

That doesn’t make the process of finding an IT services provider less stressful. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to switch your lawyer or your accountant; your IT provider should carry the same level of trust. Here are a few characteristics of reliable guidance that any prospective partner should provide:

Identify areas that demand immediate attention. If you’re not backing up your data regularly (or your backup drive lives next to your computer), this critical need should be addressed first. Data loss can be devastating for a business, and many of the biggest cybersecurity issues, like malware and ransomware, can be avoided with reliable, remote backups to ensure business continuity and stability of all devices.

Implement proactive 24/7 monitoring of your systems. Does the IT services provider you’re considering specialize in a blend of proactive, preventative maintenance and around-the-clock monitoring? Does that provider have access to a national help desk and network operations center that utilizes the expertise of more than 800 knowledgeable technicians? If you have an emergency, resources like these should be available to solve any problem in a timely manner.

Suggest services that fit your budget and your needs. Proactive IT services provide better long-term value than reactive or break/fix services. But that doesn’t mean you should break the budget paying for them. Your IT provider should understand your realistic financial constraints and help you identify an appropriate course of action that solves short-term problems with a solution you can actually afford.

Deliver a real return on technology investment. Whatever you spend on reliable IT support, knowing whether the investment will pay off is important. CMIT Solutions offers fixed monthly costs for advanced solutions like ransomware prevention and data encryption. We do not push pricey products or the latest expensive software. Instead, we suggest realistic fixes that address today’s issues while planning for future success.

Develop long-term strategies for hardware, software, and support upgrades. No IT provider should ever recommend services that you don’t need or try to push expensive new software and hardware on your business. They should, however, work with you to identify areas where tech upgrades can better protect your business and improve day-to-day operations. Then, they should lay out a strategy to efficiently plan for and implement those upgrades across the coming months and/or years.

Listen, listen, listen. Beware of any IT provider who proposes solutions before you’ve actually outlined the problem. Any trusted partner should understand your overall business goals, your short-term concerns, and your long-term goals before suggesting ways to fix the problem. Once they propose solutions, focus on improving productivity, not just turning a profit. If you bring up an issue, wait to see how they respond before proceeding to the next step. Good client service should always put your needs first.

Provide advice about complicated compliance issues. Maybe your company is subject to HIPAA or FINRA rules. Maybe you do business in Canada and have to meet PIPEDA requirements. Or maybe you live in one of the 10+ U.S. states that have recently enacted more stringent data protection and privacy laws for all companies in all industries. It’s impossible to avoid such compliance requirements—and more important than ever now that one mistake can lead to serious civil or criminal penalties. CMIT Solutions understands the need for extra encryption, enhanced data backup procedures, and robust disaster recovery plans—no matter what regulatory body requires it.

Train employees on the latest cybersecurity guidance. Providing education and training about cybersecurity and data privacy can have a transformative effect on a company’s overall approach toward technology. Instead of treating it like a frustrating requirement, this type of training can be approached more meaningfully, with simulated exercises and interactive education enhancing engagement. When employees are more invested in cybersecurity, the business as a whole can benefit. That’s because your people will form a strong first line of defense protecting your company against common threats like phishing and ransomware.

A trusted IT partner can do a lot of things to help your organization. But first and foremost, it should work to clear up complexity, provide pragmatic technology advice, and give you peace of mind as you go about your day.

At CMIT Solutions, the most rewarding part of working with new clients is delivering trusted support where none existed before. Sometimes, an outside perspective is what your company needs.

We have more than 250 offices across North America, combining deep knowledge about every industry and business type on the market with a trusted local partner you can meet face to face. If you’re looking for expert advice, CMIT Solutions can help. Contact us today to improve your overall cybersecurity protection and get the guidance you need to succeed.

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