Many small businesses lean on an employee or friend “who knows a bit about computers” to manage their IT needs. But if you’re serious about your business’s growth and longevity, you need to get serious about IT support by either hiring an IT professional or using an outsourcing firm. The cost will pay off the first time you get the blue screen of death.
Small business companies spend billions of dollars each year on IT support, yet most of them don’t have a thoughtful IT support strategy to ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck. The following seven tips will help you get the most from you provider of technical support.
7 Tips to Get the Most From Your IT Support Provider
1. Establish a relationship with a provider.
Dig your well before you are thirsty. Don’t just call an IT support provider when you have a technical support emergency. Get to know one while sailing is smooth and build a stable relationship with them. This will help them get to know you, your needs, and your systems during a time of relative calm, which is easier on everyone. That way when you really do need them, they’ll be prepared and able to help you as efficiently as possible.
2. Treat your IT support provider like a part of your team.
As a continuation of tip No. 1, treat your IT support provider as a part of your team, not just a vendor. The more you are open with them about your goals, priorities, and concerns, the more they will be able to help you. Show them the trust and respect of a professional, and they will bend over backward for you.
3. Be clear about your expectations.
Every business has different needs and expectations. Some can’t afford any downtime and are willing to pay to be up 24/7, while others are just fine if their computers don’t work for a few hours and don’t want to pay higher rates to ensure uptime. Be clear about your expectations, so your service provider can align their service and costs with your expectations.
4. Let them monitor your systems.
IT support professionals have access to amazing remote monitoring and management tools that let them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. These tools can monitor the health of your systems and alert your IT support team of a possible problem before it becomes a disaster. This decreases costs and the likelihood of computer downtime.
5. Find someone with experience in the hardware and software you use.
You don’t want your IT support specialist to learn on the job while you are picking up the tab. Find someone who has experience in the majority of the hardware and software you use. At the same time, be realistic and understand that your technical support team may not have experience in everything you use; tell them that you’d like them to make the investment in learning the technology at their cost as a sign of commitment to a long term relationship with you.
6. Find a provider that does remote support.
Ninety percent of IT support issues can be resolved over the phone or internet. Find a service provider that is staffed to provide effective remote support so you can minimize the costs and wasted time associated with waiting for a service provider to drive to your office.
7. Find a provider that offers managed services
“Managed Services” is a term used by IT support providers to describe an ongoing IT management relationship with a client that generally includes the proactive management of the client’s technology (versus just reactively responding when something is wrong) for a flat monthly fee. This combination of proactive services on a flat monthly budget can really benefit small businesses by removing some of the costly surprises that come with working with a service provider on an hourly basis.