How to choose the right computer service

How to choose the right computer service

It is not easy to choose the right computer service. How do you go about qualifying the company or candidate and their support infrastructure? Finding a geek is easy. Finding the right computer professional with a team behind them is more difficult but worth the effort and will save you money. There are to many people who say they can work on your computers because they plugged in a few PC’s and made them share a printer at their Dad’s home office. Why take a chance by letting them practice on your computer system? This guide will help you find the right computer service.

First determine which areas of your business need Information Technology (IT) development and support. Defining your IT goals before you begin looking for experts will give you a list of the skill sets required. For example, your goals may be, one, to relieve Fred in Accounting from spending time repairing the computer system so he can be more productive by focusing on cash flow and two, install a Windows Exchange mail server so the company can share calendars and contacts. These are great goals. The first goal takes the complex, ever changing IT tasks away from Fred (who can make the company more money by doing the job he was hired to do) and placing it into the hands of an IT professional who is a trained expert, stays current with new; threats, technology and has vast experience in IT systems. The second goal will improve companywide communications and productivity.

Once you have the goals defined compile a list of technical skills needed. This can begin by listing the types of systems to be installed and maintained. An Example list:

  1. One Windows 2003 server that serves as a file and print server and also runs SQL.
  2. A Trend Micro Anti Virus/Anti-Spyware software.
  3. An NT and Veritas tape back up system.
  4. A custom production software that runs on a SQL database.
  5. QuickBooks is used for accounting which is shared off the Windows server.
  6. Sales users remote access the server via a Sonicwall VPN.
  7. A new Windows Exchange mail server.
  8. An Inter-Tel phone system.

The ideal IT candidate would be a company that has one or more experts with all these systems at your disposal when you need them. The reality of the IT workforce is that no one person will be found with all those skills at an expert level. One person may be familiar with some of them but it would take a team of experts, each one specializing in one or two of the systems to get a perfect candidate for your IT needs. Don’t despair, there is another answer. Instead of hiring one IT person hire an IT company that has experts on staff for each system.

To find computer professionals you could do an internet search for “computer service” +Arizona. This will bring up many companies that may suite your needs. Sorting them out is a bit harder. Another way to find a computer professional is to ask other businesses what IT company they use and then evaluate them yourself. Or you could simply contact an IT Outsource company to do the technical recruiting for you.

Now it is time to list the IT outsource companies that have experience with all of your systems and qualify them, their employees and their supporting infrastructure. Here is a list of questions to ask:

  1. How long have they been in business? Will they be around next year? They say most business fail in the first five years.
  2. Are they insured with General Liability and Workman’s Compensation insurance? Who pays if they slip and fall at your office?
  3. What is the collective education level? High school, college, Masters, PHD? Review each of the company’s employees that would be assigned to your account.
  4. Do they have additional training such as specialized courses for that system? i.e. Microsoft Courses, QuickBooks training, SQL programming.
  5. Are they industry certified in each system? MCSE, CCNA, QuickBooks Pro Advisor etc.
  6. Do they have customer references for each type of system?
  7. How much experience do they have with each system? i.e. How many Exchange 2007 mail servers have they deployed and maintained?
  8. How do they maintain a computer network? Are they reactive or proactive? Do they have tools to monitor and alert continuously such as managed network services.
  9. Are well are they organized? Do they maintain and provide documentation like a Network Administration Log?
  10. Do they offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA) guarantee? What type of response time do they have? Will they respond when you call or are they busy with someone else and you have to wait till tomorrow?
  11. Can you reach them when you need them? If your primary contact is unavailable is there a back up? Do they have multiple phone numbers of qualified computer professionals to help you?
  12. Do they have the tools to remote access your computer and make repairs while you watch (if you like).
  13. Can they train your users to use the new systems?

If the prospective companies can answer ALL of these questions properly then you have found the right computer professionals. Now you can make a better, well informed choice.

Written by Robert Delgarbino, MBA, BSIE, MCSE, CCNA, CSSA February 17, 2007  Robert@delgarbino.com


Here is a brief breakdown of some of the computer industry certifications and what they mean.

MICROSOFT CERTIFICATIONS

MCP – Microsoft Certified Professional
Anyone passing just one (1) exam, can be certified as a MCP
MCSA – Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator
Certifies a user’s knowledge in system administration of Microsoft Windows operating systems and is simpler than, but not a subset of, the coveted MCSE. The Windows Server 2003 MCSA is achieved upon passing five (5) exams.
MCSE – Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
Is the best-known and premiere Microsoft certification. It qualifies an individual of being able to analyze the business requirements for information systems solutions, and design and implement the infrastructure required. A MCSE certification does not imply that the holder of the certificate is any type of traditional, degreed Engineer. It requires passing seven (7) exams.
MCSD – Microsoft Certified Solution Developer
This certification is the highest level programming certification offered by Microsoft. A total of five (5) exams must be passed.
MCDA – Microsoft Certified Database Administrator
This is for database administrators, who implement and administer Microsoft SQL Server databases. The certification is appropriate for individuals who derive physical database designs, develop logical data models, create physical databases, create data services by using Transact-SQL, manage and maintain databases, configure and manage security, monitor and optimize databases, and install and configure SQL Server. This certification requires passing four (4) exams.
MCDST – Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician
Is a lower-level credential that demonstrates a technician can competently support end users and troubleshoot desktop environments running on Microsoft Windows. Candidates are required to pass two (2) exams.
MCT – Microsoft Certified Trainer
This certification is for individuals who intend to train users wanting to obtain any of the other certifications.