Why Certifications Aren’t the Only Qualifications that Matter in IT

As IT professionals, we love our plaques and certifications. In fact, if you’ve been by the office of an outsourced IT team, you have probably noticed.

In fact, when you meet with a potential IT provider for the first time, or visit their website, you’re confronted with an enormous array of certifications: plaques and bullet points that show you that they’ve been to so many conferences for this many years running, or have successfully demonstrated their skill with a certain software platform by testing.

These are all good signs, of course, since it’s a good idea to have some outside verification of your IT provider’s skill. If you are going to be paying for them to keep an eye on your technology, then it’s a good idea to make sure they have worked with that kind of system before and know what to expect, much less how to resolve the most frequent problems.

Still, there are a lot of things that an IT provider’s certifications don’t tell you, and these other "details" can make or break the relationship you are eventually going to have with them. Here are a few things you can’t get from formal IT qualifications, but that you should look for anyway in any outsourced IT provider:

Their level of responsiveness. Just because someone can fix your problem quickly and efficiently doesn’t mean they’re going to. In every business, and especially IT, time is money, so take care to check up on an IT provider’s responsiveness before you sign any agreements.

Whether your IT provider has strong customer service skills. How many happy – or unhappy – customers they have will tell you almost everything you need to know about any technology company. Almost anyone who is trained in IT can find an answer to your problem relatively efficiently; it’s how they treat you and your staff along the way that will determine your opinion of them in the long run.

What an IT company’s billing procedures are like. Because it’s relatively simple to start an IT support company, lots of disreputable types are attracted. The last thing you want is to be tied to an IT provider who’s looking to make a quick buck off of your business, so make sure, in addition to talking to some past clients, you take a hard look at their billing policies and procedures.

What do each of these non-technical qualifications have in common? They are all of the things that will make you happy or unhappy with an IT provider’s work in the long run. Keep that in mind and don’t get so focused on certifications that you miss the big picture. Having an IT provider that is technically proficient is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important.

At itgroove, we believe certifications are important for ensuring one has the right breadth of knowledge (certification helps ensure someone who passes an exam has looked into areas they are weak and not just focusing on where they are strong).  But more importantly, I look for (and believe in maintaining) the following qualities in our staff:

  1. Aptitude and Attitude – if you don’t dig what you are doing, you won’t have the capacity to keep growing
  2. Beer Nerd’yness (thanks for the term Derry) – yep, if you can’t relate or hang with the guy, our clients probably don’t want anything to do with them either
  3. International Experience – most of our team has travelled and/or worked outside of Victoria.  This is important to ensuring they have a well rounded body of knowledge and experience that they can then apply to the local Victoria SMB market