Recently, we published a piece on how to evaluate an internal IT team. Here, we discussed how to assess your employees based on their customer service skills, system uptime, communication skills, and organization and time management.
When it comes to outsourced IT teams, though, the story changes a bit.
For one thing, you can’t exactly pull your on-site engineer into an annual employee evaluation if she’s not actually your employee. For another, outsourcing implies a much different work dynamic that needs to be measured accordingly.
Below we’ll work through how to best evaluate your outsourced IT team’s performance. Some of these elements will be similar to those characteristics you’ll want to look for in an internal team, but others are very specific to the nature of outsourcing.
How to evaluate your outsourced IT team
To get a sense of how well your outsourced IT provider is serving you, evaluate them based on these core factors:
- Customer Service. How does your outsourced team make you feel? Does it seem as though they genuinely care for your well-being? Do they take an interest in not just your technology, but your business and your people? Do they have the processes and procedures in place to provide you with reliable and responsive support? Do you feel as though you are high on their priority list, or that the firm is frantically working to fight fires for their collection of other clients?
- System Uptime. You are paying a team to keep your system running so that you can focus on your business mission. If there are interruptions, do they respond swiftly and efficiently? Are you kept informed of what happened, and how they’ll make sure it won’t happen again?
- Communication. It’s an unfortunate reality that tech industry in general doesn’t teach IT people how to talk to their customers; it’s not that these people don’t want to explain things in a way that makes sense to you…it’s that they often don’t know how. Does your outsourced team know how to effectively communicate with your staff? Do they keep you informed of technology changes, issues that are happening with the system, and projects and solutions that you should consider? Do they make you feel comfortable with and confident in your systems?
- Transparency. Do you know what your team is doing? Do they make documentation and records available to you? Is there some sort of client portal where you can access open tickets, view system status, and request service? Do they openly share problems that they’re having, and how they plan to resolve them for you? Will they let you see (redacted) samples of their work for other clients, or how they store their documentation of your systems? A good outsourced provider will feel like a partner, not a vendor; you shouldn’t feel as though there are barriers between your organization and theirs.
- Follow-Through. In an outsourced scenario, your provider is the one who has generally set the expectations by way of their proposal and their contract. Whatever promises they made, and whatever bar they set is what you need to measure them against; whether they’re balancing multiple clients or not, you absolutely and 100% need to receive precisely the services and support that you signed on for. And, on the more tactical side, compare your budgeted, contracted hours to the actual hours used; your provider will also set expectations as far as your investment, and you need to be sure that any significant disparity is accounted for.
As you can see, it does not necessarily take any technical know-how to be able to evaluate whether or not your outsourced IT team is a good fit for your organization. Hopefully this will help give you a sense of where your provider falls, and where you might have some room for improvement.
In the end, it comes down to finding a provider that not only has proven technical expertise, but who will take the time to forge a strong and genuine partnership with you and your people.
Good IT is one thing. Good service is quite another.