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What are some key points to consider when hiring an outside firm to handle an organization's network

What are some key points to consider when hiring an outside firm to handle an organization�s network management needs? Our business is investment management with approximately 45 employees.
Clearly delineating tasks between organizations is key to obtaining a good outsourcing firm to maintain and manage aspects of the overall enterprise. What you want to do when evaluating firms is identify those key areas and/or breakdowns you have in your current infrastructure and ask the firm what they will do to meet these needs. For example, if you have a problem with users not having the applications on their desktops to adequately do their jobs, ask the firm what timeline and processes are in place to request installation of particular applications. Ask about agreed upon timelines for the installation of network services, cabling, and maintenance routines. Most importantly get it in writing that the company will provide 24/7 (or an agreed upon) support facility to assist with outages or problems on "their side of the fence". Also make sure there is an escalation process to ensure that your needs are met in an adequate time frame. If you are looking for companies responsible for ensuring the users have software installed and upgraded, make sure that the firm has a very good process for rolling out applications to the desktop. They should be able to predict what time, when, and how long it would take to roll out an application. They should also be responsible for ensuring virus updates are applied to all known workstations. They should also be able to tell you which workstations have what software for inventorying purposes. These are just some of the questions and ideas toward ensuring the firm you hire will be able to provide the services that you need to ensure the stability of your network and improve your overall productivity.
This was last published in October 2005

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