Ryan Stickel

By: Ryan Stickel on November 21st, 2023

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4 Most Important Things to Look for When Choosing an IT Company in DC

Technology Strategy | Business Strategy | Outsourced IT Support

So, you’re in the DC-Metro area, and you’re trying to decide which IT company is right for you. You know technology is valuable to your business operations, so you want someone who is up to the task. While you might have a pretty good idea of the type of IT company you need, there are a ton of options, and you still need some help differentiating between all of them. What does a good option look like?

Luckily, your search brought you here!

Before we start, we have to note that we are an IT company serving Western Maryland and the DC-Metro area, so there’s some obvious bias here. Plenty of what we talk about in this article will be through Innovative’s prism, but we understand that we and other MSPs like us are not for everyone.

This article will be a great guide for you if at least a few of the following are true:

  • Your business is mature (or is working toward being mature).
  • You invest (or plan to invest) in IT.
  • You value cybersecurity.
  • You see a role for technology in your business growth.
  • You want a business partnership to help you with some or all of the above.

If the above doesn’t quite describe your business, that’s okay! There are a ton of great options out there that can cater to your needs.

Above all, we try our best to be fair to everyone. You came here because you’re trying to make an important decision for your business, and it doesn’t help if you leave here ill-informed with a cheesy sales pitch. Now that we’ve got that clear, let’s dive in!

1. Capacity and Efficiency

While you’re looking for an IT company that is the right size to serve your business, what you really need is capacity. Depending on the efficiency of their processes and scope of their other services, one MSP with 50 employees may have more than enough capacity to support 200-300 clients, while another can only support 100-200 similarly sized clients.

All this is to say that employee count isn’t going to give you the answer you’re looking for when determining if an MSP can adequately support a business of your size and scope. It’s also important to remember that no matter how many team members they have, those team members still need to be able to handle a wide range of technology issues that your business might encounter and do so in an efficient and effective manner.

Sure, plenty of IT companies in the DMV will be able to handle general day-to-day issues, but what about when things get more complicated? If your server goes down, are they able to quickly spring into action to get you back up and running without negatively impacting the service other customers are receiving? Even if they are, is it a one-off issue or one that’s reoccurring?

If your business has specific needs for PC configurations or application integrations, is your IT company equipped to handle those?

These are things to consider when searching for an IT company. They are there to ease and prevent technological headaches whenever possible, not cause them. Be sure to talk with possible candidates about their Service Level Agreement (SLA), issue resolution times and success rates.

2. Accountability

Your IT company should be extremely effective at what they do, but we’d be lying if we said everything is always perfect. In the world of technology, there are always going to be unpredictable and unpreventable issues. These issues should happen infrequently, but they will happen.

What you want from your IT company in times like this is a willingness to own these issues and resolve them in a timely manner. If they’re taking ownership of your technology, they need to be able to take ownership of the mistakes.

It’s very easy to brag and boast when things are going well, and rightly so. But you can’t claim the good and then sweep the bad under the rug. That shows a lack of accountability and is a massive red flag for an IT company.

Accountability always starts with leadership. If an issue causes significant downtime for your business, who are you hearing from at the IT company? Sure, a tech could get you on the phone and explain what’s happening, but what about the leaders? You want to hear from the people in charge because they’re the ones who really own this at the end of the day.

These are important conversations to have not only during your IT hiring process, but regularly throughout your partnership. We’re always talking about accountability and leadership here at Innovative, so much so that we created an entire podcast about it.

3. Industry Knowledge

In the tech industry, change is always happening, and the last thing you want is for your business to be blindsided. A responsible and proactive IT company will keep its clients in the loop about these changes. You can’t just wait around until the last minute.

For example, if there are new or changing cybersecurity insurance requirements coming up on the horizon, an IT company that’s in the know would be able to alert you sooner rather than later.

During your IT hiring process, it’s entirely fair to ask these companies what they’re doing to keep up with the latest and greatest. See if they’ve attended any industry conferences lately or if they participate in any peer groups. These are a couple of great resources to not only stay up to date on best practices and new solutions, but also to get a feel for what’s happening in the industry and impacting clients everywhere.

IT leaders who aren’t in the know might offer you less efficient tools than what is available. If you’re a business that wants to leverage best-in-class technology, you probably won’t want to work with someone who’s behind the 8-ball on this stuff.

Just like accountability, these will be ongoing conversations that continue long after your partnership begins, and it all goes back to good leadership. If they’re always keeping up with new technology, odds are they’re passionate about it.

4. Account Management – A Real Business Partnership

Your relationship with your IT account manager is crucial. They shouldn’t just be someone who checks in from time to time to try and sell you a computer. They should, and can, be so much more!

Above all else, your account manager should be your advocate. The world of technology can be very confusing and costly. You don’t want to feel like you’re on an island. Having that knowledgeable person available for questions and feedback is crucial.

Of course, part of your account manager’s role is to sell you things, but it shouldn’t be aimless. They shouldn’t sell you “junk,” for lack of a better term. They should work with you to devise a long-term, strategic plan that fits within your budget and helps achieve your business’ goals. This is done through long-term relationship-building. It is a business partnership, after all.

Your relationship with your account manager should be comparable to that of a CIO (or vCIO). You want to work with a skilled professional who can help you make big decisions about technology in your business, while also understanding the business itself.

That combination of IT and business expertise is the secret sauce to what makes a good IT partnership. You don’t want tech knowledge without business acumen, and you don’t want a businessperson who lacks technological understanding. That account manager or vCIO making decisions in unison with your business leaders will lead to a successful partnership.

Ready to Discuss?

With this knowledge at your disposal, hopefully, the picture will start to become clearer as you choose your MSP. If you read this article and liked what you saw or felt like it was speaking directly to you, and are located in the DC-Metro area or western Maryland, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Innovative. We’d love to chat with you about your business.

Not a fit for us? No worries! We understand that we’re not for everyone, and there is definitely an MSP out there who can fulfill your needs.

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