How to Choose Your IT Consultant

BACKGROUND

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
– Derek Bok, President of Harvard University 1971-1990

The same can be said of IT Support. Starting a technology project, even as small as the purchase of new equipment, can be made less costly by including qualified computer support personnel from the very beginning.

Finding and hiring IT Support doesn’t need to be a costly endeavor fraught with land mines. This article. provides a checklist to help make just the right choice.

SEARCH STEPS

STEP 1: SEARCH

Your first step is to locate IT Support with appropriate training and certification. The most common for OS X are Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP), the initial credential, and Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC), the highest credential. For windows, A+ is the standard, with Network+, Security+, and CASP being advanced credentials. Demanding current credentials ensures that your IT support professional meets or exceeds industry standards of excellence.

STEP 2: INTERVIEW

Once you have your A-List of certified IT Support professionals that meet your initial criteria, it’s time to interview each to determine who makes the best fit for your project, business, and personality. Listed below are suggested questions as a starting point. Included are answers for Mintz InfoTech, Inc.:

Qualifications

  • What certifications do you hold? Sure, there are plenty of certified people in all professions who are not competent. There are also a few without certifications who are competent. But success in life is about playing the odds. If you are having a heart attack, and two people rush to your aid–one a board-certified cardiologist, and the other a high-school graduate who says they are a skilled surgeon, which will you choose?
    • MIT: macOS 10.1-10.11 ACSP and ACTC, A+, Network+, Security+, CASP. No one in New Mexico comes close to matching this skill level or certification.
  • Education:
    • MIT: Marc Mintz, President and CIO of MIT is the only New Mexico IT Consultant to hold the coveted MBA-IT. This credential ensures that not only are you receiving the very finest technical support, but that IT consultant understands your business, and how to best implement technology to your competitive advantage.
  • How long have you been in business?
    • MIT: Marc Mintz, President and CIO of MIT, has been serving New Mexico for over 25 years–longer than any other New Mexico IT consultant or technician.
  • Can provide references for large business, small business, home business, and home users?
    • MIT: We are happy to provide references for a wide range of IT environments. Some of these may be found on Google+ and Apple.

Skills and Specialties

  • What type of services do you provide?
    • MIT: As your Virtual IT Department, we provide comprehensive service, support, and consulting. From initial needs assessment, to hardware, software, server, and network installation, followed by on-site and remote support. We continue to reduce your total cost of ownership with end-user training and continuous system evaluation.
  • What is your specialty?
    • MIT: We specialize in providing the absolute finest customer service, unparalleled macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS IT consulting and support.
  • Is your focus the consumer or business market? Providing consultation and support for the home/consumer market is dramatically different than for the business market. Businesses must ensure the security and integrity of their data, have minimal downtime, and continuously improve their competitive advantage through the intelligent use of technology.
    • MIT: We have been serving the New Mexico and national business market for 30 years. Marc Mintz, President & CIO, has published 10 best-selling cybersecurity books, which are used in STEM and college cybersecurity courses.
  • Do you offer remote and/or on-location service?
    • MIT: We offer 24/7/365 on-site support, remote support, and telephone support for all clients.
  • What are your hours of operation?
    • MIT: We are open with certified IT consultants available 24/7/365.
  • Do you offer training or ongoing services?
    • MIT: Marc L. Mintz has been consistently rated one of the nation’s finest trainers for both end-user and IT staff, including selection by multiple technology enterprises to provide world-wide field engineer training.
  • How do you remain up to date with current technologies?
    • MIT: Our senior staff spend 2-4 weeks each year attending continuing education events. All staff are required to maintain current certification, and validate updated skills with at least 2 new certifications yearly. For 25 years we have maintained a higher level of training, skill set, and certification than any other New Mexico IT consultant.

Business Practices

  • Will you provide a written or verbal contract that outlines your services, terms, and timeframes?
    • MIT: We always provides a Service Level Agreement detailing all aspects of our work prior to providing services.
  • Will you provide a complete plan that identifies specific goals and milestones for the project?
    • MIT: For large projects we provide a detailed plan for all steps, timeframes, milestones, and parts and labor costs. These are available for real-time review via any browser-capable device. For service and support, we provide estimates prior to the start of any work.
  • How do you charge for your services: Hourly or by project?
    • MIT: For large projects, we charge by the project. For consulting, service and support, we charge by the hour. For training, we charge by the hour for unstructured small groups, and charge by the training for structured large groups.
  • What are your rates? Do those rates differ depending on the type of project or service?
    • MIT: Our rate for on-site and remote service and support is $150 per hour, billed in 15-minute increments, no minimum. We also offer up to 33% discounts for purchases of time blocks. Though large projects are billed on a per project basis, their rates are based on this hourly rate. We are confident you will find that the total cost for our services is lower than the competition due to completion of work in less time, work done right the first time, and our 100% satisfaction guarantee.
  • What are your billing practices? What are your payment terms and preferred methods of payment?
    • MIT: All service and support payments are due at the time of service. We accept personal and business checks, and all major credit cards.
  • What products do you sell?
    • MIT: Mintz InfoTech, Inc. is a true full service IT Consultant. Our mission is to create or recommend the very finest solution to your needs. However, we do not sell products as this creates a conflict of interest. We also do not accept commissions from any of the manufacturers, developers, or vendors we recommend.
  • How do your rates compare with competitors?
    • MIT: Rates for Certified IT Support range nationally from $75 to $300 per hour. In New Mexico the range is $75 to $175 per hour. When selecting Mint InfoTech, your actual costs will be on the lower end, due to our ability to consistently complete work in a shorter time frame, provide remote support to eliminate waiting for an on-site visit, and preventive maintenance to reduce downtime - all of  which contribute to a significantly lower total cost of ownership!

STEP 3: HIRE

With interviews completed, it is time to select a consultant based on the best overall combination of skill set, certifications, budget, and personal fit!

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