Construction businesses today need it all: access to their software from anywhere and on any device, secure data, and processing speed that can keep up with construction’s hectic schedules. At the same time, many contractors are faced with aging hardware, little or no full-time IT staff, and slim budgets for system upgrades. It’s no wonder contractors (65% according to the 2017 AGC and Sage Business Outlook) are outsourcing their IT infrastructure.
You may already have made the leap to cloud IT hosting, or are just considering making the move for all, or part, of your IT operations. Either way, it’s important to make sure you work with a cloud hosting provider who will give you the technology, service, and guarantees you need for your construction business. Here are the top five things you should consider when evaluating a cloud hosting provider:
1) Application delivery platform
A hosting service should give you a variety of options to choose from to best suit your needs. Look for a platform that provides one-click access from your desktop, easy file transfer, and the ability to access information from any device.
Speed is also a consideration. A hosting service should deliver your applications and information quickly. You may even be surprised that it’s faster than running systems locally on your own hardware.
This is an area that you should really dig into and ask some tough questions:
- Does the provider offer an uptime guarantee in its service level agreement? Will you be compensated if the guarantee isn’t met?
- Can the provider ensure business continuity if something goes wrong on its end? How many data centers does it have? Are data and virtual machines mirrored?
- What about disaster recovery? How often will your data be backed up? Can the provider easily restore your data? Will it cost you more money to get your data back?
Don’t forget about your support experience. How quick will the response be when you call or submit a support ticket? Are support staff available 24×7, 365 days a year, or is there a limit on support hours? Where is the support staff based (U.S. or overseas)?
Also, check if the provider is certified on the software you want hosted to assure you have that added level of system knowledge.
4) Self-service access
Outsourcing your IT doesn’t mean you give up total control. Ask if you have administrative access to your servers and whether you can easily get to billing information.
Is the provider certified by a credible third-party? Look for SOC 2 data center certification and the highest standards for PCI compliance.
Finally, check how long it will take to get up and running. Are there extra costs for expedited setup? Some service providers will even offer a free trial, a great way to get a feel for the provider’s service.
Outsourcing your IT can save you a lot of headaches and reduce costs. It just takes a little due diligence upfront to make sure you select a cloud service provider that will go above and beyond to give you the best service possible.