Technology has shaped the accounting industry into what it is today. With innovations released year after year, the industry can get difficult to keep up with. You might run into new security issues or perhaps you’d like to get your hands on new tech which further protects customer information. That’s what Managed IT services providers (MSP) are for. Not all CPA firms are capable of having an IT department that could fulfill all their business needs.
Choosing one can be quite difficult, especially if this is your first foray into looking for an IT partner that’s compatible with your business. With so many companies providing different services, you must narrow down your choices based on a few important factors.
Here’s how you can make sure an MSP is the right choice for you!
Know Your Requirements
Before you pick an IT firm, you must know your requirements. If it’s security issues you’re looking to prevent, such as fintech fraud, look for a company that focuses on cybersecurity. Or if it’s a cloud-based system you’re after, choose a vendor that specializes in cloud-based solutions. Some MSP’s even specialize in both cloud and cyber security solutions! By knowing the requirements of your firm, you save time in searching for the right IT firm.
Consider Their Availability
Before deciding on your firm of choice, it’s wise to check their overall availability. Choose a firm that’s willing to go the extra mile for your business. Ask these kinds of questions of the MSP when considering what would be best for your company in the long run:
- Are they only reachable for support at certain hours of the day?
- Do they always have someone available to speak to, even after-hours?
- How long does it take for them to respond to minor to urgent issues?
- How long from that point would they take to have someone working on your case?
Most of all, a well-developed MSP would have the forethought to have redundancies in place so that if there are on-site issues after hours, they can be dealt with remotely with 24/7 IT Support & consulting. So, if you’re picking between two firms that provide similar services, you should pick the one that would have better availability, and above all responsiveness, to your business.
Are They Reliable?
Evaluating a company’s reliability may be difficult, but there are a few ways for you to determine how reliable an IT company can be. First, you have online reviews for that. Read through individual reviews and find out their strengths and weaknesses. From this information, evaluate if the IT firm is a good fit for your accounting needs. Another way to see how reliable they are is by asking them questions.
It can be as general as asking them about how they can keep up with the current technology landscape. Or, you can go as specific as asking them how they deal with issues on organization and security. For instance, you can ask how they can efficiently design a server rack with optimized cable management. Their answers and response times from these are telling of their reliability.
Your choice should also depend on the capability of the firm to handle your growing business. Knowing your annual needs should be a good start when determining if they’re right for your organization. Other information you can look into is the company’s size. Do they have enough engineers available to handle IT problems? Can their support staff handle your concerns even you aren’t in the office? These are what you should be looking out for. It’s a plus if you have info on your forecasted growth, too. That way, you’ll know if your partnership can stay strong in the long term.
Experience, Experience, Experience!
Experience matters, and that’s a fact. Before finalizing your decision on the IT firm you’d like to work with, check their track record. Review the credentials of the professionals involved with the company. Take a look at their educational background and work experience so you can see if they truly have the qualifications. Read on past issues they’ve handled through case studies and see if they could cater to your company’s specific industry’s needs. Do they have any data compliance certifications, such as SOC, FINRA or SEC, to prove they actually do have the processes in place that they claim they do? And lastly, be sure to check their experience with previous accounting firms. With this information, you can filter out which companies are suitable for your business. After all, experience is the best teacher.
In any industry, building and maintaining connections is key. Take a look at the company’s website. Have they partnered with reputable companies in the past? If they’ve worked with established organizations, it’s safer to say that they are a reputable firm. On top of that, that means they can handle larger-scale issues.
How Seriously Do They Take Cyber-Security?
While some MSP’s do offer cyber security services, others hone their specialties to the point where they’re considered a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). These IT providers offer services such as:
- Penetration Testing
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Written Information Security Planning
- System & Patch Management
- Identity Access Management (IAM)
- Data Compliance Reporting
- Social Engineering Trainings
And most importantly for any firm that provides tax preparation services, a truly polished MSSP can offer WISP services, or Written Information Security Planning. Not only just for the IRS requirement, having a business continuity plan in place for your data in the event of a security issue can be the difference between your firm staying afloat or complete disaster.
Choosing an IT for accounting firm going into the New Year takes time. That’s why you must ask them about the services they provide so you’ll know if the company’s compatible with yours. Don’t forget to read reviews online and examine other case studies, especially if they’ve had experience with other accounting firms. It’s just as crucial to look deeper, so to pick the right firm, consider all these factors and start planning your 2023 IT partner strategy today!