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Choosing the right service provider for your business

So you’ve decided it’s time to engage a service provider to support some or all of your most critical business functions, but realize choosing the right provider can be challenging. There are dozens of companies to choose from, which is why it’s extremely important to thoroughly research each prospect to find the right partner for your business. Here are nine areas to keep in mind when evaluating service providers.

1) Security and privacy

Make sure your provider is using leading storage solutions and taking precautions to protect your data.

2) Business continuity assurance

Natural disasters and other extreme conditions could impact the business staying open. Ask about business continuity plans and learn about their incident response time and how they plan to handle disruptions.

3) Provider stability and maturity

Don’t be afraid to ask for details about the company. How long have they been in business? How many clients do they have? What is their history and experience? Are there any financial concerns?

4) Quality and timeliness of work

Confirm that your provider delivers realistic deadlines and goals and does so without compromising the quality of the project. Set clear expectations about the level of service you expect and document them to ensure accountability and overall satisfaction.

5) Provider accessibility

Having a provider that is readily accessible will prove to be invaluable. Spend time in the beginning stages communicating your needs and developing a relationship with the company to confirm that they will be available when you need them most.

6) Communication and culture

How your provider communicates with your business team will be a strong indication of how well your companies will work together. Make time to interview the service team to ensure there’s a fit and confirm that your overall goals align.

7) Time to manage the relationship

It’s important to find a service provider who will be responsive to questions and needs. Some providers may have several clients; make sure the provider has an effective strategy and the capacity to accommodate your needs in a timely manner.

8) Sharing control

Weigh the benefits of working with an outside provider compared to leveraging in-house resources. Whether choosing a provider for part- or full-time support, confirm that they will work to support your goals, meet your needs and honor your mission.

9) Protection of intellectual property

Your intellectual property is like a rare jewel — it should be guarded. Do you have confidence that the provider will protect and maintain the integrity of your data? Confirm their information security policies are up to date and adhere to best practices.

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