Key considerations for selecting an IT supplier

Firms should put together a checklist of requirements when choosing a potential IT partner, writes 3Kites’ Jon Howells

Keeping a supplier checklist can help decision-making easier Shutterstock

Selecting the right IT supplier is a critical decision for any organisation, as it can significantly impact the efficiency, security and overall success of your IT infrastructure. Before you start speaking to and reviewing suppliers, it is helpful to spend some time documenting your needs – a bullet point list is better than nothing.  

When reviewing your requirements be sure to consider past experiences and what improvements could have been made. Suppliers will be well practiced in explaining what they do, but make sure their service aligns with your requirements and don’t be afraid to update your list as you learn more about available options, without losing sight of the original goal. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but an insight into the process 3Kites follows when helping our clients select an IT supplier:

  • Experience – Do they have experience of covering the systems you use? Do they have experience within your industry? Do they have depth of experience (i.e. the supplier is not reliant on just one person within its organisation)?
  • Size – Will you be one of the larger clients, will you be one of the smaller clients? Depending on the level of interaction, the importance of the answer will vary. Ensure that the supplier can scale its services to meet your organisation’s growth and evolving needs. Can they scale to where you see yourself being before the contract is up (think three to five years)?
  • Security – Look for accreditations for the company and the service they provide. CE+ should be in place as a minimum for an IT service provider. Ask how they secure their own environment and how this approach will keep up with required changes, including staff training. And, how can they help you to improve your IT security?
  • Support – Understand how the service you are provisioning will be supported and by whom. Ask to meet the team that you will deal with once the procurement process is complete. Evaluate the supplier’s commitment to staying current with technology trends and innovations. How will you be kept updated with changes in the market that you should be aware of or could benefit from?
  • SLAs – Rarely do SLAs provide a financial return should a firm find itself receiving lower than expected service and it’s unlikely this is going to change quickly, but do consider how contracts can be exited if issues occur. A period of 30 working days for a supplier to rectify an issue before a contract can be terminated may be too long for your firm to wait.
  • References – Even with references the supplier provides, you never know what information will be devolved, therefore this is a key activity to undertake. Consider the supplier’s track record in delivering similar projects or services.
  • Costs – Ensure you understand the proposed costs, ask about hidden costs or knock on costs with other services you may have. Complete a total cost of ownership table for the length of the contract (including any one-off costs) when comparing suppliers – it is often surprising to see the difference in costs over a five-year period.
  • Added value – How can the supplier add value over and above your set requirements? Do they provide training, run networking sessions with aligned businesses or help you achieve your CSR goals?

Remember that this is about the provision, safety and security of your firm’s IT. It is no longer sufficient to simply accept a supplier’s response to questions regarding service and the ability to recover from system failures or cyberattacks. It is important to understand exactly how suppliers will be able to keep your business going when the unexpected occurs. If you can’t be sure of this, why are you signing up? 
If you would like further information about 3Kites’ IT supplier selection, help with managing an existing supplier, or any of the other 3Kites’ services, please contact Jon Howells on 07917 367872, email [email protected] or visit

Jon Howells is a director of 3Kites. This is the 33rd article in the series Navigating Legaltech


About 3Kites and Kemp IT Law  
3Kites is an independent consultancy, which is to say that we have no ties or arrangements with any suppliers so that we can provide our clients with unfettered advice. We have been operating since 2006 and our consultants include former law firm partners (one a managing partner), a GC, two law firm IT directors and an owner of a practice management company. This blend of skills and experience puts us in a unique position when providing advice on IT strategy, fractional IT management, knowledge management, product selections, process review (including the legal process) and more besides. 3Kites often works closely with Kemp IT Law (KITL), a boutique law firm offering its clients advice on IT services and related areas such as GDPR. Where relevant (eg when discussing cloud computing in a future article) this column may include content from the team at KITL to provide readers with a broader perspective including any regulatory considerations.

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