Would you rather be on the telephone for hours with an IT vendor that may be stationed in another state or perhaps another country, or would you rather do business with a trusted local IT expert that comes highly recommended from a colleague or professional organization? I hope that the latter choice is your preference, and if it is, then you are in luck because the Carroll Technology Council has a listing of local information technology professionals that provide a wide range of services from network design and maintenance to website design and hosting.

Technology applications, software and hardware are critical business assets. It is vital to purchase the right equipment and software for your company and maintain it, but how do you know what to buy? An experienced IT professional can give you guidance and peace of mind. Here are some things to consider when selecting an IT vendor.

Quality: Does the IT professional/company provide value? Professionals will often provide a free consultation to make a preliminary needs assessment. A comprehensive IT inventory may be recommended as a place to start an equipment/software needs analysis and develop a plan. Ask yourself — is the vendor just trying to sell you the latest equipment/software, or do they want to help you solve a real business challenge? Do they come highly recommended? A word-of-mouth recommendation is still the best way to find a good professional in any industry.

Cost: Today’s total information access allows us to price everything to get the best deal, but price should not always be the No. 1 consideration; consider maintenance, warranties and whether or not troubleshooting assistance is included.

Delivery: Can your vendor deliver what you want, when you need it? Are there expensive shipping charges, or will local delivery options be more cost effective?

Service alignment: Is the IT vendor someone that is familiar with your industry? Industry familiarization often saves time and may even help to improve operations because of extensive industry expertise.

Professionalism: Are you treated with respect and courtesy? The customer isn’t always right, but at the very least you should be able to express your ideas as an equal partner in developing your IT solutions.

Ethics: Is the IT professional reliable, truthful and honest? Do they do what they say they are going to do? Do they have a good industry reputation?

Existing relationships: Do you have any clients that provide the type of services that you need or previous business relationships with an IT professional/company? Working with one of your existing customers is a great way to strengthen that business relationship as well.

The Carroll Technology Council is composed of many information technology professionals and companies that have years of experience in many different industries. The best thing about CTC members is that they are local and accessible; they live and work in the community so you know that they want to maintain a golden business reputation. For more information about CTC members and their services, please visit www.carrolltechcouncil.org.

Denise Beaver is the Secretary of the Carroll Tech Council and is Deputy Director of Carroll County Economic Development. She can be reached at dbeaver@carrollbiz.org.