As a growing and developing business it may be the right time for you to consider outsourcing the management of your IT to an IT Support Provider.
There are many types of services associated with an IT Support Provider and when it comes to choosing an IT provider it can be tricky.
In this introductory article we would like to give you guidance and advice on what to expect from a professional IT Support Provider.
How important is IT for your business?
This might seem like a ridiculous question considering that we are in the 21st century; we all know that computers and IT play a crucial role in how we operate and manage our businesses.
You probably rely on IT every single day: from basic word processing and admin through to more complex stock ordering, and operations and sales workflows.
It’s therefore important that you have the confidence that your IT is going to work when you need it the most.
Unfortunately, most business owners don’t really appreciate the value of their IT systems until something goes wrong. This can be a painful way to learn.
When your IT systems, computers, emails, servers, software and networks aren’t working properly your business will slow to a crawl.
Downtime for businesses these days simply isn’t an option, and having IT experts at your disposal will give you peace of mind.
This is where your IT Support Provider adds value – by looking after your IT for you.
Searching for an IT Support Provider
When you start your search you will probably do one or both of the following things:
- Ask someone you trust for a recommendation
- Search Google for local IT Support Companies
When is it the right time to outsource your IT?
It’s difficult to know exactly when the right time is.
However, here is some guidance to help you recognise when it might be the right time:
- Increasing amount of time on IT issues
- Network and Server downtime
- Requirement to upgrade hardware and software
- Slow and underperforming hardware and software
- Increased security issues
- Challenges with email
- You don’t know what do in certain situations (i.e. lack of knowledge)
It could also be that you have had a incident recently that has forced you to think about what you would do if the worst happened and you had no access to your data or computers
The smarter businesses at this stage would look into outsourcing the management of their IT and focus on looking after their clients and doing what they do best.
What to look for when choosing an IT Support Provider and Partner
Regardless of who you choose you will be looking for an IT provider that’s:
- Has a good reputation, and
- would be an IT partner for you rather than just a supplier
There’s no doubt that a good working relationship with your IT provider will add value to your business.
If you choose the right provider there’s a good chance you will stay with them for a long time, and they will support you as your business grows.
Therefore, getting it right at the start is really important.[related article – how to move IT provider – to be written – link placed in at a later date]
Managed Service vs Break and Fix
Without getting too deep into pricing and service provision there are generally two types of IT services your business can make use of.
Break and Fix service – out with the old
The most common type of service that businesses seek is called break & fix.
This simply means that if an aspect of your IT breaks down, you can call out your IT Support Provider to fix it for you.
The whole philosophy of break & fix means that something has to go wrong before any action is taken.
Unfortunately, this also results in most businesses falling behind on data backups, security updates and IT infrastructure upgrades, and therefore increase the risk of downtime and losing their data as a result.
IT provisions within businesses with a break and fix arrangement are typically in a poor state of maintenance and this regularly results in poor performance and lower productivity.
Managed Service – in with the new
Break and fix is now no longer the only or best option for small to medium businesses.
Instead of following the ‘old school’ and more traditional break & fix model, your business is now able to take a more proactive approach to managing IT by outsourcing to a ’Managed Service Provider’.
Your IT Support Provider will remotely monitor your IT to prevent any major issues before they occur.
related article – what does an IT provider do? – to be written; link placed in at later date]
7 aspects to consider when looking for an IT Support Provider
- Do they understand your business and your needs? – A professional and proactive IT Support Provider will first of all take time to understand your business needs. The IT decisions that you make now should aid your growth. Therefore it is important to understand how your business is planning to develop and what your future growth plans are.
- IT Assessment – It’s normal to expect your potential IT Support Provider to initially assess your current IT situation. This will allow your IT Support Provider to get to know your business and you can get to know them a little more too.
- Case studies and testimonials – A well-established IT Support Provider will provide you with access to independently verified testimonials and case studies from current clients. You should be able to access them from their website and have the ability to contact them for a reference.
- They do what they say they are going to do – Unfortunately a lot of businesses are let down at the start of the process a deadlines start to slide. As with any professional business, as a minimum you will be expecting them to do what they said they were going to do.
- Polite and professional – It’s true that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The team working for a professional IT Support Provider will have clean uniform and be easily identifiable as a representative of the business.
- Premises – A professional IT Support Provider will have operating premises. We would advise that you visit their premises to see how they operate. You should expect it to be clean, tidy and well organised. You don’t want to find your provider to be in the ‘shoemakers shoes’ scenario – you want to be working with someone that practices what they preach.
- Qualified and competent engineers – Expect senior IT engineers to have relevant qualifications and at least 5-10 years experience. It may also be worthwhile asking if they have had relevant experience working in your industry sector.
Is it time to speak to an IT Support Provider?
We hope that this introduction to what to expect from an IT Support Provider helps you to make a good decision when choosing a provider to look after and manage your IT provision.
- What to ask when choosing a support company – IT Donut
- Choose and manage your IT Supplier – Business Gateway
- Do you have further questions about how an IT Support Provider can help you?
- Do you currently have a specific IT related issue?
- Do you think your organization could benefit from working with an IT Support Provider?
Let us know in the comments section below.
Have a great day!