Small and medium sized businesses utilize technology as much as large corporations. Often, small and medium businesses need to be more responsive and agile when it comes to technology to compete in local markets or against larger competitors. Unfortunately maintaining an adequate level of tech support can be very difficult for smaller companies because there simply are not enough resources available to handle the tasks.
Should your business outsource IT support? There are some key items to consider:
• Do you have a plan in place for backup systems and data?
• Do you track and monitor important tasks like backups?
• Will your company grow in sales or customer volume in the next one to three years?
• Will you add staff in the future? Will they need PC’s, laptops, printers or other devices?
• Do you plan to utilize mobile technology or remote connections for business on the road?
• Are there new technologies such as tablets, mobile apps, or cloud storage that would help your business productivity?
• Does your staff regularly need support or help with their devices or software?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is time to consider a solid IT support partner to help your business to keep moving in the right direction. There are many IT support companies to choose from. How can you pick the BEST tech support partner for your business?
• Consider current and future needs – will your use of your website increase? Will you be installing new accounting software? Do you expect your salespeople to access systems remotely? Make a list of the needs that you are aware of and what your expectations are for tech support.
• Count troubles – what types of IT related problems have you experienced in the last year? Are you currently having network or system performance problems? Have there been any outages or data loss? Are you concerned about security? Note those issues for your tech support partner to address.
• Certification verification – your tech support partner should be certified in areas that your business needs. If you utilize Microsoft products, then your tech support partner should have the appropriate Microsoft certifications. The same would apply to network devices, databases, and software applications.
• Communications – your tech support partner should be easy to work with and communicate well without a lot of tech-talk.
• Calculate service – as part of the service level agreement (SLA), your tech support partner should outline how they can respond to your issues as well as how they plan to monitor and update your systems when needed. Will they perform daily backups or server maintenance? What data will be archived? If there is a problem, who do you call? How fast will they address the problem?
• Cover privacy – your tech support partner could have access to sensitive information, and should have as part of their agreement a privacy and security policy that will restrict use of corporate information for anything but to support your business. Also make sure your tech support partner will comply with your security and password policies, and help you to solidify your business systems to prevent viruses or hackers from intruding.
• Check reputation – do your research and make sure the tech support company can handle your business and is there for the long run.
• Confirm expectations – review the proposal and verify that the SLAs will address your company’s needs. Discuss payment options including subscription services and the term of the agreement.