42 percent of business owners admit that they don’t take full advantage of technology. 94% aren’t even sure how to use the apps they already have. These statistics underpin the sad prediction that one in five small businesses will fall victim to a cyber-attack this year, and 60% of those attacked will close their doors within 6 months. It shouldn’t be surprising that IT is the second most outsourced business function behind accounting. In total, 37% of small and mid-market businesses outsource IT and a further 52% are currently shopping for providers.
But how do you pick the right IT provider?
Searching for a strategic IT partner is a perilous adventure. You’ll step knee-deep into a soup of buzzword acronyms, and you’ll certainly find yourself drowning in vague marketing campaigns, hefty promises, and generic phrases like “preventative,” “proactive,” “holistic,” and “end-to-end.” Unfortunately, between the cookie-cutter websites and dime-a-dozen blog posts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of commoditization.
The deciding factor too often comes down to price under the misconception that IT providers all provide the same services. This aligns with the age-old adage, “All things being equal, price prevails as the dominant differentiator between services.” But, here’s the question: how do you know all things are equal?
Here’s the truth: managed IT services aren’t all the same. In fact, behind the vague promises and marketing videos, there are some critical differences that separate managed IT providers. In your search, here are the foundational items you should evaluate when you compare IT providers:
1. Preventative Safeguards
Every IT provider claims to offer “preventative” or “proactive” services. But do they really? Or are they simply tossing this industry checkmark term into their marketing game?
There’s a big difference between proactive solutions based on technology and proactive solutions built on the combination of technology and strategy. For example, it’s easy to monitor systems for issues. Technically, you could use a plug-and-play monitoring solution run by AI scripts to “proactively” monitor for data breaches. But that’s not tangibly proactive. It’s simply a way to access understood threats (i..e, pre-programmed threats) before they make an impact. What about the threats you don’t understand? Those require people and strategy—not technology alone.
To be truly proactive, providers must employ a careful mix of human intelligence and tech intelligence.
Ideally, a proactive human resources team trained in information technology should pour over your unique threat vectors, analyze tickets and ticket volume, and develop one-of-a-kind solutions built with best practices to reduce your ticket load. And we do mean unique—customized per-client! Every legal practice deals with original, unique-to-them threats. Technology should spot threats, but IT officers should digest those threats to create strategic safeguards and continuously align your systems with security best practices. Any threat leakage should be measured, identified, and absorbed to prevent future issues.
There isn’t an IT provider on the planet that can completely mitigate your issues. However, IT providers who are truly proactive—not just plugging in canned technology—significantly reduce your IT issues.
To be clear, once an issue hits your business, the value of having an IT provider plummets. The average cost of downtime is over $5,000 per minute. The most cost-effective and valuable IT provider is one you barely notice until your scheduled risk reduction meetings.
You don’t want an outsourced IT provider; you want an outsourced IT partner. There’s a big difference. A provider provides the same solution to all clients, plugs that in, and drops by once a quarter to discuss a smorgasbord of non-personalized tech and a copycat list of standardized procedures. An IT partner works one-on-one with your business to develop hyper-personalized solutions that align with your practices.
Your IT partner should directly respond to security audits, build systems to mitigate the threats that are uniquely targeting your business, and help you handle your requirements (not the general requirements of your industry). On the same subject, though, industry is crucial. You don’t want a partner that works in too-broad of a capacity.
Over a quarter of law firms experienced a security breach last year. The law industry is rife with cybersecurity threats. It has everything to do with an overall lack of security posture combined with a wealth of private client data. The methods employed by threat actors when targeting law firms respond to the way firms specifically move, store, and use data. If you work with an IT provider that services any-and-every industry, your security will be misaligned.
3. Around-the-Clock Capabilities
Hackers don’t shut their doors at 5 pm. They operate 24/7 around-the-clock. Shouldn’t your IT provider offer the same hours? Yes, but not in the way you think! Your IT provider probably won’t have their lights on at 1:00 am — but they better have monitoring and safeguard solutions in place to handle issues that pop up at that time. Your goal isn’t to find an IT provider with 24/7 phone support. After all, you’re probably asleep at 2:00 am, unaware of an early morning breach.
This is a marketing ploy used by IT providers; they outsource their phone operations overseas, claiming to offer 24/7 support, but all they really have is an offshore phone answering service capable of opening an ever-wonderful “support ticket” on your behalf.
Let’s flip the script: what you want is 24/7 mitigation capabilities—not a phone support line. Your IT provider should offer proactive solutions that contain and mitigate breaches at 2:00 am, not a talking headset to field your sleepwalking questions. The headset can do nothing about your data loss, financial loss, continuity disruption, or reputation damage.
4. You-centric Support
Without sounding cliché, you’re searching for an IT partner that understands your needs. When you find that, it feels like you’re their only customer—not a number. Your IT provider strives to make sure that your problems don’t recur. You want a provider that steps in and provides support that actually means something. This may sound like an intangible, but it’s not.
Preventing recurring issues saves you time, money, and (most importantly) stress headaches. A law firm thrives when its staff is productive and able to keep up with the demanding workload placed upon them. Not only do slow, problematic, unreliable computer systems put restraints on timely work completion, but it causes massive frustrations that impact the culture and livelihood within a firm. Vertex has developed its service offering to maximize user productivity through reliable computer systems and knowledgeable support staff who provide timely responses with a focus on reducing recurring issues.
Our team actively analyzes incident tickets to find long-term solutions to prevent them from reoccurring. We spend one day per month at your firm, aligning your computer systems with best-practices to increase security, reliability, and consistency. Vertex continuously augments documentation about your systems to ensure every one of our technicians can quickly and effectively resolve issues to keep your staff more productive.
Although we don’t provide a boxed 24/7 customer service representative, we do include something that matters in the moment: emergency after-hour support to respond to problems that may happen to your staff during evenings and weekends. We measure client satisfaction with every support incident to make sure we deliver the highest level of customer service—keeping us above a 99% incident satisfaction rating.
Vertex is Here For You
At Vertex, we don’t just provide world-class technology or best-in-class proactive risk mitigation strategies; we align our practices with your law firm’s specific needs. The truth is: you have options. We know that. We won’t throw buzzwords at you until you believe that we have a secret arsenal of tech that no other provider has. We also won’t pretend that we’re the only IT provider in Toronto. But we do offer one thing that’s unique: our capabilities. We blend strategy, people, and technology in incredible ways.
Vertex puts IT security at the forefront of our service offering. We bundle a wide array of security software systems into our plan to ensure you have core-components in place that protect your systems and client data.
We understand that security systems aren’t enough on their own and therefore dedicate proactive resources to your account to continuously align your systems with security best practices. Regular meetings are conducted with stakeholders at your firm to make you aware of potential risks and to discuss IT strategies to reduce them.
We respond to security audits and build your systems and processes to align with those. We understand that if your systems don’t pass those requirements, you can’t compete against firms whose systems do.
Are you ready to create a holistic IT ecosystem at your law firm? Contact us.