IT systems and data management are critical for any business. Developments in software and cloud solutions have levelled the playing field in terms of how small and medium businesses can compete with big business in terms of access to top level IT, particularly with the holistic packages available from the likes of Microsoft. However, leveraging the power of these tools can behave its challenges.
Investing in dedicated IT support will not only give peace of mind in terms of security, implementation and day to day running good support will also ensure that the right solutions are in place to best serve your business needs.
IT Support may be outside the budget of many SMEs, but cost saving is far from the only benefit of outsourcing. Outsourcing your IT Support service will mean you have access to their experience across many business scenarios. Going to them with your business issue, they are likely to have ‘been there, done that implemented the software’ saving valuable time in project planning. Also, by their very nature, outsourced IT firms can be more collaborative and work across your business teams, avoiding silo working, with access to a wider range of the latest developments and solutions.
While outsourcing IT support is a ‘no brainer’ for most small and medium businesses, there are still pitfalls to be avoided. Spending time with your potential provider is by far the most valuable thing you can do to evaluate their services.
Things to consider & questions to ask when choosing your IT Support Provider.
- What areas of your IT operation do you need help with the most?
Before meeting with a potential supplier, audit your business processes, get your staff involved and have a clear idea of your needs. Once completed, talk with your potential supplier about how they can support all of your needs. Or, if you don’t know where to start, does the IT Support Company offer you an overall review of your internal systems, so you know which areas require improvement.
- How much contact do you require with an Account Manager?
Small business teams are often already stretched and asked to wear too many hats. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to IT (or want to). A flexible IT firm can tailor their services to provide the level of contact you require. So, if you wish to take an active role in all things Tech or just want the peace of mind that you have all the support you need and it’s ticking along in the background – talk to your provider about how you want to see day to day support working.
- What is your annual IT support budget?
IT is often one of the most significant investments a business will make after premises. Having an IT provider that can not only help you work out your budget but will help you make the most of it, too is essential. Talk about how your supplier can provide scalable solutions, is there a way they can help you avoid too many upfront costs by providing solutions and services that support you as your business grows. Again you want to work with a provider that is empathetic to your needs and provides flexibility with how you are billed. Talk to your provider about what would suit your needs, billing by project, retention, monthly usage, number of staff etc.
- What security concerns do you have?
Different industry sectors will have different security needs, with some having strict data management obligations. Even a simple business will be governed by GDPR rules or be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. A good IT provider will be able to help you audit your systems providing solutions for any weak spots identified.
- Response Times
Questions about response times are often open to misinterpretation. An organisation that boasts guaranteed response times should be viewed with caution. There are often many caveats to the guarantee, and an automated ‘we are looking into it’ ticket response is not the same as investigating and providing a fix response. Of course, a fast response time for a business-critical issue is extremely important, but a GOOD IT Support company will have longer average response times. The reason being a GOOD IT Support company will be monitoring systems 24/7 and eliminating the risk of business-critical issues through dedicated IT management. As an illustrative point, Yunatech has an average response time of 9 hours, purely because business critical incidents are minimal, with by far the majority of queries raised being low-priority to the client and involve coordinating with external vendors to design and deliver solutions. So instead of focusing on response times, it would be better to ask about their level of Proactive Support. This will enable them to proactively resolve all problems which arise rather than waiting for the problem to escalate.
The fast paced Tech industry has a notorious reputation for seeing support companies come and go as often as Microsoft Updates are issued. You want an IT Company that will support you on your business journey. Those with experience and history are likely to be those that have evolved as technology has developed, simply they keep up, those that don’t tend to be short lived. Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier how their own business has developed, it will give you an insight into how proactive they are with keeping up with the latest business solutions. Yunatech has been operating for more than 15 years, an impressive stat in IT Support circles, but what is more important and something we are immensely proud of is our average client retention period of 8.5 years and growing.
- Do they provide remote management and monitoring?
Remote management and monitoring can mean that any issues are often detected and resolved before any effect on the business or even before they have been noticed, ensuring business continuity.
Does your potential support provider have recognised accreditations and partnerships like Microsoft partner status?
- What do Other People Think
One of the most powerful signs of a good IT Support company is what their clients say about them. A GOOD provider won’t shy away from making introductions to existing clients so you can hear for yourself. Published Testimonials are easy to spot but look for independent reviews too.
- Complicated or Strict Contracts
Again, flexibility here is key, you should make sure you know whether you are tied into a contract or whether it can be cancelled at short notice. Good support companies don’t need to tie their customers into 3-year contracts to keep their business. But on the other hand, for some continuity and peace of mind, investigate whether there are cost savings to be had for signing up for a fixed period of time.
- Do You Like Them? – The Beer Test
Spending time with your potential provider is by far the most valuable thing you can do to evaluate their services. Talk to them, ask questions, make sure there is synergy between you. Ask to meet the team, would you employ them in your business? An outsourced IT firm should work as an extension to your existing team. IT solutions are a critical part of your business, and you need to work together with your provider and feel comfortable, that you need to get on well and feel trust.
If you use these questions as a framework for evaluating your potential IT provider it should stand you in good stead for picking a partner that will help your business grow.
If you would like to discuss how Yunatech fits this framework over a cuppa or even a beer please do get in touch.