Small businesses have a lot going on. The many demands of customers and suppliers can take up a lot of time and effort. Sometimes essential support structures like your IT are taken for granted. Tech is used daily in most operations but it’s often the least understood side of the business. Sometimes growth happens so quickly that you find yourself managing a larger company with inadequate start-up level tech and support. In other cases, quality IT support doesn’t show up on the agenda until the computer crashes and essential customer data is lost. Whatever your situation is, it’s likely that you could see an improvement with support, including smoother operations and better data security if you partner with an IT support provider.
Choosing the right IT support team can be a daunting task. It’s a decision best made before you need urgent help. There are key features to look for in a good provider. You don’t have to understand the jargon, as the right team will explain things to you clearly. Look at the following ideas and be sure to ask your potential IT support providers about them. Their answers will help you to choose the best fit for your business.
What do you need?
Before you start looking at what different IT support providers offer, you should ask yourself what type of support your business really needs. Here are some very broad questions to get you thinking.
- Is your digital environment secure? How do you know?
- How do you store your data?
- Do you have backups in place?
- Do you have an internal network that needs managing?
- Is your hardware up to date and maintained?
- How many users do you have, and will you need to add more in the future?
- Are you using licensed software, free online editions or subscription model programs?
- If something goes wrong currently, how do you address it?
- Do you have an onsite IT expert, or do you call someone on an as-needs basis?
- Do you have a plan to grow your IT infrastructure in line with expansion plans?
IT support can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. When you have a clearer understanding of your current situation, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate what different providers are offering. A good provider may be able to show you ways that support can make your business more secure and more efficient that you hadn’t considered.
In business, time is money. If you have a problem with your website or your email system, it can affect sales instantly. If you notice your systems have been infected with malware it must be acted upon immediately. Ask about how quickly the IT team will respond to an initial report. Also look out for a projected resolution times – this is how soon the team aims to have most issues resolved.
It’s often beneficial to find out where the IT support company is based. Local firms will be able to provide you support in your time zone, and with relevant knowledge and understanding. This knowledge may extend to local regulations that apply to doing business online, such as the GDPR. If you hire support that’s based nearby you may have access to on-site support services if your situation requires it.
Is the IT company the right size for your business? Large international firms have plenty of prestige, but they don’t always offer the same quality of service to their smaller clients as their larger ones. Find a support provider who understands the challenges that small businesses face, and who treats every client as important and valuable. Personalised service often comes from smaller, dedicated teams.
Ask about how client interactions are handled. What is their approach to customer service? Do they have dedicated engineers assigned to your business? Are support calls treated as a valuable opportunity to solve problems and provide excellent service? Find out if the IT support team reaches out proactively to clients if there are known cyber security threats or improvements to be made.
When you’re researching your potential providers, seek out testimonials from satisfied clients. Do they publish case studies of how they’ve help similarly sized businesses achieve goals? Seek them out on their website, and if they aren’t available, ask for them. Some IT providers may have clients who are happy to discuss their successes with interested businesses.
Find out if the IT support companies hold any third-party accreditations with software providers. Holding external qualifications indicates they have specialist staff and expert-level resources to support specific brand name software in addition to regular IT support services. While they aren’t necessary, they do show an additional level of dedication to quality of service.
Your budget will influence your decision-making process. Ask for explicit information about which services are included and excluded inside a package price. Depending on your needs, an IT support company may be able to tailor their packages or suggest which level of assistance is right for your business. Some companies offer annual subscriptions while others offer month-to-month options.
How do you plan for your business to grow or change over the next 12 months? Can you accurately predict your needs in this flexible economy? Find out if your IT support is responsive to the changing needs of your business. Can you access lower or higher levels of support as needed? Are there fees for reducing or increasing support levels? Can the team offer support for office expansion or relocation?
About EC-MSP, your IT support partner
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support with establishing an IT support partnership, or any other IT support issues, contact us today to see how we can help.