Selecting an IT Service Provider for Non-Profit Childcare Organisations
Is your administrative staff getting overwhelmed with IT issues? Perhaps it’s time to consider looking for an outside service provider to handle the IT for your non-profit childcare organisation. A good service provider can take the IT issues off your hands, make them more efficient, and save you money in the process. Routine tasks will be done effectively, and IT emergencies can be handled by experts to minimise downtime, and allow your childcare professionals to focus on their time with the children. However, it’s important to ensure that the IT consultant you select is the right company to handle your childcare organisation. You need be able to trust in the provider you work with. So, to help you determine which IT consultant is the best fit for your organisation, here is a list of questions to use when interviewing them.
Questions to Ask When Hiring an IT Service Provider for a Childcare Organisation
1. What is the Company Culture?
Seeing eye-to-eye with a supplier or consultant is a key factor in working together. Therefore, getting to know the company culture can help you learn more about who they hire and how they operate. You can ask about what they value and prioritise, and how they hire and train their employees. You can also spend time interviewing the representative that will be your main contact. Other possible issues are levels of training and certifications as well as security needed when operating a childcare organisation.
2. What Kind of Facilities Do They Have?
Seeing the offices of your potential IT service provider is helpful in assessing their professionalism, responsiveness and legitimacy. It’s important that your IT provider understands the reliable and secure services you need for a childcare organisation. While at their office, you can get a feel for their experience, expertise and the behaviour of their staff. Does it seem like a well-mannered work environment? Are the offices in line with other companies in the industry? Are they taking the time to get to know your non-profit childcare organisation or treating you to a one-fits-all proposal?
3. What Calibre References Do They Have?
Most companies can get their largest customers to give them references if they’ve been in business for a while. The best references for you are from other childcare organisations who will understand the issues that you face. When you call the references, talk to more than one person there who deals with the IT service provider to get a better understanding.
4. What are Their Competencies and Specialities?
IT consultants train in specific systems and processes. They should have a list of certifications they have earned as well as an ongoing training plan to keep staff up-to-date at all times. Ensure that they are familiar with regulations your non-profit childcare organisation is required to comply with. Find out whether they offer an inclusive price or flat rate or if each service is priced separately. Does their pricing include network monitoring, software patching, hardware installation, server upgrades, or is there an extra cost for some services? What do they outsource and who do they outsource it to?
5. Do They Have a Guaranteed Response Time?
You should expect an IT service provider to offer a guaranteed response time for the times you have a problem with your IT system or website. Sometimes this depends on what level of support you are paying for. However, be wary of anyone who promises a quick resolution to any computer problem. Even though that sounds good, some IT issues are take longer to diagnose and fix.
6. What Happens in the Event of a Disaster?
Disaster planning is crucial when it comes to any organisation, and doubly so when discussing computer records. What is their plan if a natural disaster affects your organisation? And what if it hits their business? How quickly would you be able to recover your records and your hardware? How well would they protect your interests?
7. How Do They Log Your Calls?
When you do have an IT issue that’s causing problems, it is frustrating when you don’t get ahold of the person you need to fix it. Ask how they log your service call. Do they have a call priority system and someone available 24/7? Or is there a way to contact your service representative via email or chat? These are all very important questions when your computer system is down.
8. Are They Compliant in the Childcare Industry?
Your non-profit childcare organisation must comply with industry standards and government regulations. Does the company offer service-level agreements as to their compliance to Australian data privacy regulations and NDB scheme? Reputable IT service providers will list their compliance standards in all their informational materials. Compliance is a crucial factor for their business as well as yours.
9. How Much Do They Use Automation?
Technology has made it possible for routine IT tasks to become automated, making it quicker and easier for monitoring systems. In fact, automation means that tasks don’t get missed and issues are evident much earlier. This leaves time for humans to focus on higher-level issues and work on improving your service. Discuss how they can save your organisation time and money by automating routine tasks.
10. Do They Provide Remote Management and Monitoring?
Modern IT service providers can check on the state of your IT network, computers, and servers remotely without needing to visit your premises. Often they can update your system remotely too. This meshes well with a childcare organisation’s need to protect the children in their care. It can also speed up the resolution of issues in your IT system, and cut labor costs.
11. How Will They Improve Your Organisation?
This is the crux of the matter when it comes to hiring a managed service provider. They need to fit seamlessly into your organisation, and grow with you. Look for information on how they fit into other clients’ entities, and how they get along with other childcare organisations’ staff. Discuss how they will improve your efficiency and reduce your IT costs. What part of your workload will they take on, and what will your staff retain? These answers may vary depending on what you want, but in the end, if the ROI is positive for your organisation, then you are doing the right thing.
Published on 22nd July 2019 by Ian Brady.