How to Buy IT Services for your Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Small to Medium-sized Business

How to Buy IT Services for your Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Small to Medium-sized Business

As the owner or manager of a fast-growing business in the greater Toronto area, you know that in order to keep your business up and running smoothly, you need a responsive, reliable and honest managed IT services partner.

But how do you evaluate them to determine if they know what they're doing and will provide good service before you buy? To help answer this, here are the top 10 questions you need to get a resounding "YES" to before you let any IT service provider touch your network:

  1. Do they answer their phones live, or do you always have to leave a voice mail and wait for someone to call you back?

    Our Answer: We answer our support line live 24/7/365 in about 3 minutes on average. Why? Because many of the CEOs and executives we support work outside normal hours and find it the most productive time they have. If they cannot access their computer network AND can’t get hold of anyone to help them, it’s incredibly frustrating for them, and they are wasting their valuable time.

  2. Do they insist on remotely monitoring your network 24/7/365 to keep critical security settings, virus definitions and security patches up-to-date and PREVENT problems from turning into downtime, viruses, lost data and other issues?

    Our Answer: Yes, our remote network monitoring system watches over your network to constantly look for developing problems, security issues and other problems so we can address them BEFORE they turn into bigger problems.

  3. Is it standard procedure for them to provide you with written network documentation detailing what software licenses you own, critical passwords, user information, hardware inventory, etc., or are they the only person with the “keys to the kingdom”?

    Our Answer: All clients receive this in written and electronic form at no additional cost. We also perform a quarterly update on this material and make sure certain key people from your organization have this information and know how to use it, giving you complete control over your network.

    Side note: You should NEVER allow an IT person to have that much control over you and your company. If you get the sneaking suspicion that your current IT person is keeping this under their control as a means of job security, get rid of them (and we can help to make sure you don’t suffer ANY ill effects). This is downright unethical and dangerous to your organization, so don’t tolerate it!

  4. When they offer an “all-inclusive” support plan, is it TRULY all-inclusive, or are there “gotchas” hidden in the fine print?

    Our Answer: Our “all-inclusive” support plan is just that – all-inclusive. One of the more popular service plans offered by consulting firms today is an “all-inclusive” or “all-you-can-eat” managed services plan. These are actually a good thing because they’ll save you a lot of money in the long run – HOWEVER, make sure you REALLY understand what is and isn’t included.

  5. Do they INSIST on monitoring an off-site as well as an on-site backup, or are they letting you rely on outdated backups?

    Our Answer: We do not allow our clients to use tape backups because they are incredibly unreliable. We make sure all of our clients have either our Sentryon Cloud Backup solution, which performs a daily off-site backup to our secure Canadian data-centre, or better still our Sentryon Managed Backup BDR solution, which includes near-instant server fail-over protection in case of a hardware failure or other disaster.

  6. Do they INSIST on doing periodic test restores of your backups to make sure the data is not corrupt and could be restored in the event of a disaster?

    Our Answer: We perform a monthly “fire drill” and conduct a test restore from backup for our clients to make sure their data CAN be recovered in the event of an emergency. After all, the WORST time to “test” a backup is when you desperately need it.

  7. If you were to experience a major disaster, do they have a written plan for how your data could be restored FAST and/or one that enables you to work from a remote location?

    Our Answer: All our clients receive a simple disaster recovery plan for their data and network. We encourage them to do a full disaster recovery plan for their office, but at a minimum, their network will be covered should something happen.

  8. Is their phone support Canada-based or outsourced to an overseas company?

    Our Answer: We provide a help desk staffed by Canadians and make sure the folks helping you are friendly and helpful. We consider this one of the most important aspects of customer service, plus we feel it’s important for keeping your data secure.

  9. Do their technicians arrive on-time and dress professionally?

    Our Answer: Our technicians are true professionals that you would be proud to have in your office. They dress professionally, show up on time, and if they cannot (for some odd, unforeseen reason) will always notify the client immediately. We believe these are minimum requirements for delivering a professional service.

  10. Do they insist your network have a business-grade firewall, or do they let you use a basic home router and say it’s “good enough”?

    Our Answer: A basic cheap home router is not sufficient to protect the network of a business from today’s online world full of hackers and cyber criminals. A business-grade network security appliance does much more than a basic firewall, with features such as active intrusion detection to alert someone if a breach has been detected, checking incoming data for malware and viruses, and web filtering to keep your staff off job boards and Facebook, and much more.

To see the full list of questions you should be asking, and OUR answers to them, please download our full educational report here: IT Buying Guide