You’re probably highly reliant on your IT systems, you need them to be running smoothly in order to carry out the work you need to do on a daily basis. As your business has grown you’ve bought new computers, added printers and scanners, maybe even purchased a server. You’ve now got a bit of a conundrum; you haven’t got the time to be the ‘go to’ person for the IT in the business and you certainly can’t afford a full-time IT Manager.
IT Technical Support In Larger Organisations
If you’ve ever worked in a big organisation you’ll have had an IT department. If you were having any kind of computer problem you’d call them and they’d sort it out. They were there to ensure the company runs smoothly.
You might be having trouble sending or receiving emails, problems printing or you might have forgotten a password but there was a department dedicated to those support jobs and sorting issues out. They normally did it over the phone but occasionally they’d come to your desk and sort whatever problem you had.
IT Technical Support In Smaller Organisations
In smaller organisations having a dedicated in-house technician isn’t practical. There just isn’t the amount of support jobs to justify the cost and the average salary for an IT Support Technician can be high.
In those circumstances most companies find outsourced technical support is the answer to look after the company computer systems. Outsourced IT Support, often called Managed IT Support, is basically an inhouse IT support department shared across a number of small businesses.
With outsourced IT support companies get access to a wider range of skills and knowledge, from individuals with IT related qualifications and previous experience, than they could if they tried to develop an IT job role inhouse.
They sort out computer problems, advise on new technology, configures hardware, with a team of support technicians all with IT related qualification and experience.
It’s a fixed cost each month and it’s a weight off your mind. But how does it actually work, what should you expect and how much is it likely to cost?
What Managed IT Support typically includes
Have an issue with your computer, printer, internet connection or anything else to do with your computer systems and networks? A helpful, friendly IT support technician is available to solve technical issues (and not so technical one’s!), providing technical support during normal working hours. In addition to fixing issues the service desk will also deal with things like setting up new users, installing and configuring computer hardware and software updates and dealing with third party providers such as broadband or software companies.
Most problems with business information technology can be solved remotely but occasionally technical issues need an IT support technician to go onsite. Generally this would be more complex problems with hardware or network problems where physical access to the hardware and additional skills are needed for the job.
This should be included in the agreements and not subject to additional charges.
IT BUYING SERVICE
Save time and have your new equipment sourced for you – without having to visit multiple websites and try and understand RAM, SSD’s, CPU’s and Operating Systems! You’ll be advised on the best systems for the individual based on the role they have in the business and there will be a standard setup, so systems can be shipped straight to you, plugged in and be ready to use.
There should be basic level of security services included in your plan. Basic security would generally include antivirus and email filtering services . It is a very specialist area dealing with cyber security and providers may have a separate team with additional skills doing the job of looking after your security. This may vary depending on the size of the provider.
DEDICATED ACCOUNT MANAGER
Your own named individual who will keep in contact, visit you regularly in face-to-face visits, and discuss your unique business needs. They will also discuss how technology can be used to achieve your goals.
HOW CAN IT SUPPORT BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS?
As a business owner, you always look for ways to improve efficiency and cut costs across the whole company.
IT support can help you do both. Here’s how:
1. SAVE TIME AND MONEY ON IT PROBLEMS
When something goes wrong with your company’s information technology, fixing it can take a lot of time and money. With Managed IT Support in place you get help solving problems quickly and efficiently for a fixed monthly fee. Customers also benefit as their team of IT support technicians will be maintaining computer systems, so companies with IT support suffer fewer technical problems in the first place.
2. GET MORE FROM YOUR EXISTING TECHNOLOGY
If your users are not using all the features of your current hardware, operating systems or software, you’re not getting the most from your investment. IT support can help you better use what you have to get more value for your money. Our experts have in-depth knowledge of IT systems and can provide ongoing training to improve your skills and help your business make the most of an investment.
3. STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY
The world of IT is constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up. With IT support, you can get help keeping your existing systems up-to-date and take advantage of new computer equipment and capabilities as they become available.
4. PROTECTING YOUR DATA AND MAINTAINING COMPUTER SYSTEMS
Data security is a big concern for businesses of all sizes. Especially those with more complex technical environments. Technical support managers can help protect your data and computer systems from threats like viruses, malware, and hackers. A maintenance engineer can check for any issues via remote monitoring.
5. IMPROVE EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY
Employees can work more efficiently when they have access to the software, tools and information they need. An IT support professional can help you improve productivity, they will configure computer systems to help employees to be successful. As well as playing the support role your support team will be able to advise you on new infrastructure and new software that can improve efficiency and productivity, even in large businesses.
6. REDUCE DOWNTIME
If your computer systems, software and networks go down, it can cost you time and money. An IT support specialist can reduce the downtime of your computer networks by providing rapid problem resolutions. Fixing information technology quickly and making sure the business can provide its services to it’s customers is paramount. Because support maintains your computer systems and networks the chance of a problem occurring is also reduced.
7. CONTROL YOUR COSTS
With a fixed monthly cost for your support and an IT Roadmap telling you when your equipment needs replacing you are in complete control of your costs. Whatever technical problems you are experiencing your provider will have an IT industry professional on hand to support you.
Choosing An IT Support Provider
Managed Service Providers or MSP’s deliver IT support and they all basically work the same way. You’ll hear a lot about proactive vs. reactive support and how one provider is different, or offers something unique. We’ll come on later to what ACTUALLY makes the difference between providers but don’t believe the hype when it comes to the rest it’s largely, erm how to put this politely…..
Reactive or Proactive Support?
The way ‘reactive support’ works is outlined below. It’s also commonly known as break/fix. What happens is this:
- Something goes wrong
- You call a helpdesk and describe the problem
- The helpdesk responds and provides either remote or onsite support
- The issue is diagnosed
- Issue is fixed
- You get on with your day
Now a lot of providers are claiming this is the ‘old’ method and that proactive support is completely different, revolutionary and amazing. It’s very clever; using various bits of software and hardware the MSP monitors your systems and fixes potential problems BEFORE things break. Amazing eh!?
So, when you come back from a holiday your system will be ready with a new, super strength password already set-up and digitally implanted in your brain because the MSP has read your mind, knew you’d forgot your old password in the whirl of tequila and flamenco that was your week in Marbella and has been ‘proactive’.
No proactive system, no matter how good, will eradicate the need for reactive support. A large proportion of the issues that we encounter originate with user error. Machines cannot read minds (yet!) so reactive support is here to stay, no matter how MSP’s package it.
What’s the Proactive bit then?
Proactive support is great. We’ve examples of when monitoring systems have spotted software problems early and solves technical issues before they hit the users. There is little or no downtime, potential disaster is averted.
However, the MSP needs to be big enough to have invested in the solutions to start with, needs to have enough suitably trained staff to programme the hardware and software correctly and interpret the information that they spit out, and have the resources to carry out the pre-emptive fix.
Regular monitoring and maintenance is going to make a difference. If the oil light comes on in your car you get it checked out. You don’t ignore it and wait for the engine to blow up. Proactive IT is kind of like your cars regular maintenance and servicing schedule.
There is also another element to proactive IT and that looks at forward planning. The MSP should plan regular meetings to discuss where you are going as a business and how technology can help you get there. These meetings should help develop an IT Roadmap. This is a document that plans future investment. Whether this is replacing out of date equipment, moving from a server to a cloud solution, or beefing up security.
These Business Reviews should mainly focus on you. Yes, there should be some discussion about the service that the MSP is providing. Things like Customer Satisfaction, performance against Service Level Agreements etc. And there certainly should be discussions around what’s being done to sort out any reoccurring issues.
However, a ‘proper’ MSP will want to understand you as a business and what it can do to help you achieve your business goals. One thing to keep an eye on is if these meetings only take place when the provider has something new to sell to you. If meetings are sporadic and just focus on the MSP talking about their latest new service this is NOT a Review Meeting.
So, you know what reactive IT is, and you can be sure that 99.9% of IT service companies do it pretty well. You also know what proactive support is, there will be differences in quality here. So ask for references and speak to the MSP’s existing clients, you’ll get a real idea for how proactive they are.
But there is another differentiator…….
The simple, biggest differentiation between MSP’s. The people who deliver the support. You can be pretty sure that technically they’ll be up to scratch. MSP’s don’t employ people who know nothing about computers. It’s the ‘soft’ skills that make the difference, things like communication skills, organisation skills, and common sense.
Is bigger better? Very good question and one that’s impossible to answer. A one or two man band will get to know your business and it’s IT really well. You’ll be one of a small number of customers so you’ll have a nice, personal relationship and you’ll speak directly to the top technician when you call.
Of course, that’s if you can get hold of them rather than the generic call answering service that they use.
And they’ll fix you problem quickly – provided that the problem falls within the scope of knowledge they have. Which as there are only two of them is limited. Oh and provided no other customer happens to have a higher priority issue. Going back to the proactive elements of the support they’re unlikely to have the equipment, skills or time to provide a proper package of maintenance and monitoring – this can cause major problems if, for instance, they miss a software patch.
Does Bigger = Better?
At the other end of the scale there are the big boys. These are essentially call centres with scripts and checklists. Getting through to someone with actual technical knowledge can be a challenge. And as for someone knowing who you are and what you do, just forget it.
In between sit people like us. 15-30 staff, a wide range of knowledge with the team of support technicians, with a small enough customer base to have a personal relationship and understanding of your business, but big enough to ensure you can get through to someone. Small enough to care, big enough to cope (we’re trying it out as a tagline, what do you think?) But we’re not perfect; we have higher overheads so we we’re more expensive than the micro-MSP. Even with a larger headcount we still get busy and sometimes things don’t get fixed as quickly as you (or we) would like. Holidays, sickness and paternity leave impact greatly as they probably do on your small business.
So who do you choose?
Whoever fits you best. Talk to a few providers, of varied sizes, and work out what’s the most crucial elements FOR YOU. Accept that, as with everything in life, there are compromises to be made. Decide which one’s your willing to make. You’re heading into a long-term relationship and you’re trusting the company you choose with systems that are absolutely vital to your business. We’d recommend you visit your shortlist and meet the actual people you’ll be talking to. We’d also say whatever you do don’t choose purely on price. The lowest price and the best value for money ARE NOT the same thing.
How We Can Help
Your IT Department are an Award Winning outsourced IT Support and Managed Service Provider. We’ve been operating for well over a decade and take care of IT for more than 120 businesses. Our clients include law firms, accountants, construction firms, manufacturers and recruiters. If your business uses IT we can support you!
Based close to the M1 on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border we are ideally placed to provide IT Support Nottingham, IT Support Leicester, and IT Services to business across the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire.
If you’d like to speak to us about the kind of support solutions we provide we have a number of ways you can contact us;
Book an initial call in our online calendar: https://calendly.com/angus-yourit/book-a-call
Fill in a contact form: www.your-itdepartment.co.uk/contact/
Or simply pick up the phone and call our friendly team on 0115 8220200.
We can’t wait to hear from you.