5 questions you should ask when assessing a support partner

Whether you’re assessing an implementation partner for a new Sage system or you're looking at a new partner for an existing solution, we look at the questions you should ask a prospective provider to ensure you get the best support service for your business.

Your business management system is only as effective as your technical support provider, as even a well-implemented solution can bring your operation to a standstill should you encounter an unexpected error.

To ensure you choose the right support partner, here are five questions you should ask about their service - and what you should look for in their answers:

1) How large is their support team?

As with any business, partners naturally look to expand and maintain their customer base. But as they implement more and more sites and grow their active customer base - each with their own issues and requirements - additional demand will be placed on their technical support department.

But if a reseller fails to expand their support function in step with their customer base, providing a responsive, receptive, high-quality service will become increasingly difficult.

As a prospective customer, assessing the size of your prospective partner's support team will provide an indicator of their ability to provide rapid and responsive feedback.

2) Are they transparent about their services?

It’s easy to be misled by talk and numbers when assessing a prospective reseller and their support function. But some resellers back their ‘talk’ with transparency - a sign of confidence in the quality of their capabilities.

This might present itself in the form of regularly published reports, detailing response statistics and user feedback. Other resellers may go further, providing a ‘live’ feed of their response times, ticket volumes, resolved issues and customer comments.

If such transparency is available, this will allow you to assess critical support function factors, such as response time, update frequency, technical knowledge and closure feedback. If customer comments are typically positive within that feed, it's a positive indicator that the support partner is able to provide a quality service.

You can also ask about their service level agreement, or SLA, which should detail their expected response times and provide further insight into the quality of their offering.

3) Do they offer multiple services?

Technical support will primarily focus on rectifying technical issues, such as bugs or software conflict issues.

Some resellers also offer additional services. As your business grows, your requirements become more complex, and having the option to access those services in the future will mean your partner is able to support the growth of your business, should you feel it's required.

These additional services might include outsourcing critical aspects of your system management to that reseller - management that might other be conducted by your members of staff.

Crashes and bugs are inevitable even in the most well-designed, well-implemented and well-tested software. What isn’t inevitable, though, is the standstill your business can come to should this happen – not with the right support function in place from the right reseller.

4) Do they have a dedicated support team?

Not all support partners necessarily offer a dedicated support service. Instead, their support service might be provided by their implementation consultants - consultants who are working on implementing systems for other customers.

That means their resources are split between providing two very different services, both with their own unique demands. If your partner has a dedicated support team, however, they’re more equipped to provide an effective and responsive support service.

5) Are their accreditations up to date?

With so many prospective support partners to consider, every measure of distinction matters. 

Staff accreditation is one such point of distinction. This means ensuring the partner's support staff receive regular training and have up-to-date knowledge of your system - an effective support function should be equipped with a breadth and depth about your business management solution. 

Assess whether or not their expertise applies to solutions you might use in the future, too. Your requirements might change as your business grows, and continuity of service will mean that your prospective partner, who should develop a thorough understanding of your business, will be able to support that growth in the future.

Be diligent when assessing a support partner

Don’t be afraid to approach your selection of support partner with the same level of diligence, patience and caution applied to your ERP system selection process - because an effective support function can maintain the integrity of your back-end business operations when the unexpected happens, or provide critical ad-hoc guidance in the early stages of system adoption.

Get in touch to find out more about Datel's support services - or read more about the importance of understanding your service level agreement from Datel's support director, Debra Leland.