5 Things to Look for in a Technology Partner

By: Marco
October 3, 2022

As a top technology provider across the country, at Marco we have a somewhat unique vantage point. Like most companies, we take client satisfaction very seriously. However, that’s not where it ends. We continuously track what leads to a successful long-term partnership that grows even more valuable over time, and we make sure that’s exactly what we’re delivering.

Want to know if you’ll be happy with a technology in a year, two years, or five? Here’s what we’ve learned, and I’m happy to share it.

SEVEN THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A MANAGED SERVICE PROVIDER

1. THEY LISTEN

They should also be able to listen carefully to your pain points and be able to recommend custom solutions that address them. One of the most frustrating things about providing technology solutions is that no matter how complicated a solution is, it’s really just a tool designed to solve a problem. And like any other tool, the best tool depends on who will be using it, and for what purpose. People love to search for things like “the best business printer” online, but you should be wary of providers that are a little too eager to answer this question without getting to know you first.

Also, there are a few industries that are known for their excessive use of acronyms and jargon. Technology is one of them, but that’s not an excuse for unclear client communication. In addition to being able to listen carefully to your needs and translate those needs into recommendations, your provider should also be able to speak to you in plain language about what they’re recommending and why.

If you skim over some of our Technology Insights blogs, you’ll get clear answers to all kinds of FAQs and simple explanations of common acronyms. It’s how we roll. We provide these not because we want our clients to have to read up before they can talk with us, but we like to empower our clients to make technology decisions with confidence.

2. THEY BELIEVE IN YOUR TECHNOLOGY GOALS

You are an expert in your organization. Your technology provider is an expert in, well, technology. However, they should also be experts in determining how to best apply their expertise to support you. And that conversation begins with understanding what you want to achieve.

There are almost endless options and strategies when it comes to applying technology solutions. Your provider should be able to recommend the precise combination to help you hit your goals. If they can’t do this, they might not be a good fit.

3. THEIR OFFERINGS ARE BUILT TO SCALE

Organizations that reach their goals tend to grow, and that brings change. If your technology partner is doing its job, at some point, you might outgrow your existing infrastructure and need different solutions.  

However, one thing you don’t want to outgrow is your technology provider. Sometimes, smaller outfits lack the depth of staff and resources to meet the needs of growing organizations. If that’s the case, consider partnering with a technology provider that’s poised to grow with you.

4. THEY MAINTAIN LONG-STANDING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

One way to get a feel for how a technology partnership will work for your business is by inquiring about their existing client relationships. How long do their partnerships tend to last? Do companies stay with them for three years? Five years? How about 10+ years? The length of a technology provider’s client relationships will provide insights into the longevity you can expect if you partner with them.

We’re very proud of our long-term client relationships, and you’ll find a healthy collection of case studies on our site.

5. THEY MAINTAIN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

Take a look at a potential technology provider’s strategic partnerships. It’s not just a brag book. Strategic partnerships often mean a technology provider can provide you with more competitive prices and best-in-class support on products and services from those companies.

Some partnerships mean more than others. For example, Marco has achieved Gold Partnerships with Cisco and Microsoft. To earn that special distinction, technology providers must prove their expertise in various areas of business and technology through ongoing professional development and skill assessments.

6. THEY ARE FOCUSED ON SECURITY

Cybersecurity is one area you do not want to cut corners or use a technology provider that does. Marco’s experts always keep your security top of mind and will make recommendations that are in line with recommendations from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to safeguard your systems and data.  NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology; its Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a set of standards, guidelines, and best practices provided by the US government to help organizations manage their cybersecurity risk.

One easy way to know if your technology provider takes your cybersecurity seriously is if they have a SOC 2 report. SOC stands for System and Organization Controls. Obtaining a SOC 1 report means that a third party has verified that a technology provider meets its commitments at a certain point in time.

To be fair, most managed service providers have obtained a SOC 1 report. If they haven’t, that should be a red flag. However, few have obtained the SOC 2, which means that a third-party audit has verified that a technology provider maintains its commitments over a period of time. We’ve achieved a SOC 2 report for our Managed Print Services and Managed IT.

7. THEIR SERVICES ARE INCLUSIVE AND OFFER WHAT YOU NEED

Although the relationship components are extremely important, it’s always going to come down to whether or not a provider has the services your business needs now, and in the future. Taking the time to inquire about a given provider’s support desk structure, approach to strategic planning, technology assessments, 24/7 monitoring, disaster recovery services, and security services will pay off in the long run.

Furthermore, today’s technology is much more interconnected. For example, it’s not always readily apparent whether a device is truly malfunctioning or whether your network is to blame for an issue.

We’ve all probably had experiences as homeowners getting caught between two companies that blame each other for an issue, with neither one accepting responsibility for addressing it. You don’t have to experience that frustration at your office. One technology provider that can do everything is one number to call when things go wrong, and one company that will take responsibility for making that problem disappear.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT BUSINESS IT PARTNER

One way to see if a business IT partner is the right fit for you is to hire them to do a technology assessment. An assessment is a cost-effective way to give you far more insight into your current technology, including what’s working well for you and where upgrades might be especially helpful. It will also give you some insight as to how a technology provider communicates, how their experts approach problem solving, and how they might be to partner with long-term.

If cybersecurity concerns are top of mind, you might ask if a provider also offers a more specific cybersecurity assessment. This assessment will identify any vulnerabilities in your system and provide a roadmap of what upgrades are needed ASAP and which ones can wait. If your organization hasn’t kept up to date with current cybersecurity solutions, this assessment can be especially eye-opening about current threats and ways to keep your data safe that don’t drain productivity.

At Marco, we believe that technology should always make your life easier, not harder. So if you’re having a hard time finding a provider that’s the right fit, our experts are always happy to demystify tools, systems, and confusing tech speak. If we can be of help, let us know!

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Topics: Business IT Services