At a time when professional services firms are more dependent on information technology than at any point in history, IT services providers need to rise to the occasion. The worst thing for your professional services firm to discover down the line is that your IT company isn’t actually as well-equipped to serve your firm as they claim to be – or, even worse, that they aren’t actually fully invested in the success of your firm.

Every practice manager, partner or director knows that finding a reputable IT services partner to steer the digital architecture of your firm in the right direction is a difficult, laborious process. Not all IT companies are created equal. If you don’t do your research, you could end up paying for more security and service than you’re actually getting.

But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. The best way to determine whether an IT company is a good fit for your organisation is to ask them direct, well-thought-out questions. Here are three queries any Perth IT services company you have in your corner should be able to say “yes” to. If they can’t, you shouldn’t be working with them at all.

1. Will you proactively manage my professional services firm’s network?

There are two types of IT companies. The first is the type you call up when there’s an outage in your network, your server finally gives up the ghost or your e-mails aren’t sending for some reason. They show up at your firm, charge by the hour, (hopefully) fix the issue and leave. This is, understandably, an attractive option for many small to medium professional services firms with tight budgets. Why pay to fix something if it doesn’t appear to be broken?

The problem with this line of thinking is the fact that, without a dedicated team of professionals working on your network every day, things get missed. No one’s really taking charge of driving the technology of your firm into the future; no one is looking to optimise your processes and give your team the tools they need to do their best work. Security becomes a low priority because it’s assumed that everything is fine – until it suddenly isn’t.

Any managed IT services or managed IT support provider worth their salt won’t wait for your system to fail before they take action. Instead, they’ll proactively work to keep your network running at its highest level – security, optimisation and everything else. When you crunch the numbers and really break down the cost of an outage or digital crisis, it’s easy to see how this approach will help you in the long run.

2. In the event of an issue, can you give me a guaranteed response time?

When you and your team are in the trenches, putting stress on the network while you go about your operations, the last thing you need is a long outage. These blips in service bring productivity to its knees, frustrating your customers and costing thousands of dollars. So you need someone on your side that can give you a definite time frame of when they’ll be on the scene in the event of a crisis. If an IT company dodges the question when you ask them for this, run for the hills – they’re not a company you want on your team.

3. Do you have extensive knowledge of the best practices for my industry?

Even if an Managed IT Services Provider is solid and experienced, that doesn’t mean they’re experienced in your particular line of business. You need someone who’s worked with firms like yours for years, with tried-and-tested methods for addressing industry-specific concerns and streamlining workflows. If your Managed IT Services Provider can’t answer this question with a definitive “yes” and provide examples and insight into how they stay abreast of your field, keep shopping for an organisation that can.