Hiring IT: outside the box questions
Let’s come to terms here – the magical wizards that fix all the blinky lights can sometimes be hard to talk to. Especially if you find yourself hiring IT from an outside source, tech-focused people can often have a hard time breaking subjects down into manageable, relatable chunks. To make your life a little easier, here’s a few considerations for hiring IT.
How easily can this company translate technical discussion to understandable ideas?
Too often, us tech folk are sequestered away to server closets and basements. That’s a fine fit for people who are technically minded, but an intersection between the systems we service and the people who use them is often forgotten by IT vendors.
Sure, we can show up on time and fix the problems. The crucial next step, however, is explaining what went wrong and what we’ve done to fix it. A valuable skill in any IT vendors arsenal is the ability to break down highly technical aspects of the job into byte-sized (couldn’t resist) components so that the front desk staff can understand what is actually happening when they click on that unknown attachment.
One of our core philosophies is that end users should be the very first layer of defense in a cybersecurity stack. They are, after all, the people responsible for actively filtering the spam that does manage to get through. Hosting cybersecurity workshops or lunch-and-learn team meetings with a focus on computer skills is a great indicator of an IT vendors ability to render all of that technical know-how into easily understood language for the rest of your team to digest.
How deep does your security stack reach?
Some companies rely on set-it-and-forget-it appliances to manage crucial infrastructure assets. For example, sometimes IT providers will roll out an anti-virus install and call your office ‘secure’. Other times, a script will be written to copy your data to a USB key and label it a ‘backup’.
While both of these examples have a kernel of truth to them, your IT provider should have a stack of offerings that complement each consecutive layer of their plan to – for example – secure your office.
A wise business owner would ask to see how deeply the IT vendor is ready to dive on the topic of backing up your crucial customer data.
Sure, an offsite, online backup is great. Can an on-site backup piggy-back on that plan?
Is there a RAID in the server you are installing?
Questions about the depth of an IT provider’s offering will tell you if the vendor you’re dealing with is ready to scale with you. As your business grows, so too should your technical assets.
What is your internal incident response policy?
When the digital excreta hits the oscillating blade machine, you want to know your IT vendor has your back.
Asking about your IT vendor’s internal policies might ruffle a few feathers. Some providers might not let you peruse their big red policy binder, but you should be able to tell from a short conversation if formal steps are in order to deal with massive problems at your IT vendor’s business. A steady incident response policy should clearly outline the steps staff must take in the event of a severe problem.
An IT vendor that will be responsible for maintaining your uptime while you’re in the throws of a crises should be able to do the same thing for themselves – anything less is a tell into a less-than-organized management system.