Spring is here and the desire to undertake some serious spring cleaning isn’t limited to just the home. Businesses can also take advantage of this traditional focus on getting organized and starting fresh by re-thinking their IT support services plan. To help, we’ve provided you with 5 critical questions that you can ask yourself about your IT solution and whether or not it's as good as it could be.
How is Your IT Support Services Team Performing for Your Business?
In order to answer that question, you have to first understand what a modern IT support services model looks like and compare it to what you have now. However, if you are still doing exactly what you did 10 or even 5 years ago or you don't even have a team to speak of, then it’s a safe bet that you are missing out on some opportunities for increased productivity and efficiency. So you are definitely going to want to read on!
Much has changed within the IT industry and the results are very positive for businesses. Not only has technology become more accessible and more affordable for organizations of all sizes (and budgets), but it has also gotten easier to implement expert network management that is the equivalent of having an in-house IT department (but without the price tag).
The industry calls this Managed IT Service, and you can learn more about it here. Or as we say, it’s really like having that trusted “IT guy” just down the hall…only better. Better because instead of just that one “IT guy” (or gal!) you are getting the diversity and experience of an entire team. They are just a call or click away and they are keeping watch over your network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
But we digress…
For this post, the objective is to provide you with some information to help you determine if it’s time to re-think your IT support services model. So here goes:
1 – Is Your IT Support Reactive or Proactive?
There was a time when our collective reliance on technology was small enough that having an hourly Service Technician on speed dial for when something broke down was sufficient.
But those days are long gone. If all your IT guy does is put out fires, it's time for a new IT solution. (Side note: if all your in-house IT Director has TIME to do is put out fires, then outsourcing some portion of his/her functions to an IT firm can be very beneficial as well.)
Proactive support (that actually works to prevent things from ever breaking at all) IS the "new black" when it comes to IT management. And news flash…it’s also what prevents costly downtime for your business. It’s the preventive maintenance that stops small issues in the background from becoming major system-wide issues later on. Preventive maintenance is pretty much the unsung hero of IT.
The kicker here is that if you don’t know what you don’t know about systems maintenance, then this critical part of the process can get completely missed, seriously jeopardizing the health of your network and frankly, your business.
So if you aren’t there yet, then add "Research a new IT Support Services Solution" to the top of the old To Do List this spring.
It’s 2016 and there is no excuse for not giving your network – the engine that drives your most critical business functions – the attention and preventive maintenance that it needs.
2 – Is Your Current IT Provider Responsive to Your Needs?
Time is money, and when things go wrong with your IT and it creates downtime – because they are machines and they will sometimes fail or die or do things that can’t be predicted – the one thing you want first from your IT provider is for them to respond quickly. And with a sense of urgency towards getting the problem resolved that matches your own panic and/or frustration over the time and money you are losing while you are offline.
At Corsica, we think that for any IT team that provides IT support services (like we do), a customer network going down should feel just like one’s own network going down. (Brag alert: It’s why we have an average response time of less than 1 hour on HelpDesk tickets.)
Second to your provider responding quickly of course, is that you want quality service. If an IT team responds super-fast but ultimately can’t fix the problem, then they may as well have not responded at all.
3 – Is Budgeting for I.T. a Scary and Mysterious Process? Or More of a Wild Guess?
There is absolutely no need to endure this anymore.
Fixed fee pricing models for IT service plans are now common among IT service providers. What you pay each month is primarily dictated by the number of systems and workstations being managed. And while plans do vary from provider to provider, it’s pretty standard practice that all normal service requests, HelpDesk calls, systems maintenance, deployment of network security measures like patching, firewalls and anti-virus software, and data backups management are covered under that 1 monthly fee.
To see an example of what we mean, check out our IT Service Plans – we have 4 plan options and you can clearly see what is covered under each and what isn’t.
So if you’re currently getting nickel-and-dimed, then shop around. Profiles in Baltimore is a perfect example of this – they were working with a managed IT service provider, but finding that most of what they needed was not covered under the plan they were on. They switched providers and one of the biggest benefits for them now is knowing that when they need help, they just call us. No wondering what it will cost, no wasting time troubleshooting the issue on their own, and no more billing mysteries.
And it also bears repeating that if your current IT support services model is an hourly tech that you call for emergencies (i.e. we call our admin assistant’s nephew when something breaks, and he gets to it once he gets out of class), then you are also in need of a more complete and cost-effective solution. Because paying hourly rates to fix something only AFTER it breaks ultimately costs you more than investing in full-time professional management of your network.
4 – What is Your Data Backup Solution?
If your answer is back-up tapes, then stop. Just stop it. This is certainly a solution, but it’s NOT a good one. Data backups management has advanced well beyond the days of backup tapes. Ten years ago, they were modern. Now, they are not.
Today for example, you can install an appliance that acts as a backup server; if yours fails, you can switch over to the backup and be back up and running on that machine while your main server is repaired or replaced. Or you can opt for cloud back-up, which covers you in the event of a weather event or other emergency that damages your physical location. Or there is the hybrid approach – where you back up to an appliance and ALSO to the cloud.
Beyond that question though, there are many other critical ones when it comes to your data backups and by extension, your disaster recovery planning. For example:
- Are your data backups working properly? (Hint: the only way to know is if someone is actively testing them…and we do that for our customers.)
- In the event of a disaster (local or otherwise), what is your plan to access that data? (Because storing it is one thing; accessing it is another matter altogether.)
- What is an acceptable amount of data loss for your business…1 hour? 1 day? 1 week?
- What will the downtime created by a disaster cost you?
You can certainly do your own research and homework and planning on this topic - the SBA provides some great resources in fact. A trusted IT service provider can and SHOULD help you to navigate these questions and determine what is right for your business. So if you are already working with an IT provider, maximize that resource.
5 – Is your IT Service Provider a True Partner Who is Working With You Towards Greater Efficiency Through Technology?
If they’re not, they should be.
(And if you only have an hourly tech who shows up to fix things, we know the answer to this is no.)
Technology is ever-changing and it takes an expert to truly stay on top – and ahead – of this industry. As you are busy running, growing and managing your own business, you can’t be the one to also keep your finger on the pulse of all things technology. Nor should you be.
But if you are working with an IT support services team, then your account manager or primary contact there absolutely should be your trusted advisor when it comes to evaluating and adopting – or rejecting – new technology. It should just "fit".
Here is where we can really directly speak about our philosophy. We strongly believe that it only REALLY works for both us and our customer when we become an extension of their team. We want our accounts to turn to us when they have questions about migrating to the Cloud, or what to do about supporting a virtual workforce. We also ask them to listen when we make a recommendation for something that can help them, because we see it as our responsibility to identify (and solve) risks and opportunities for them.
We won’t tell you to go ahead and spend money on whatever you want or do whatever you think. We will work in partnership to evaluate the options, make recommendations for what we believe will work best for your business, and then implement the solution along with you so that it will be successful.
So if your current provider isn’t your IT partner, then demand it or go elsewhere.
Because doing what you’ve always done just isn’t going to help you to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. But worse than that, doing what you’ve always done could actually be putting your business at risk.
How Does Your IT Solution Rate?
It’s no secret that business today relies heavily on technology. It’s where and how we create, share and manage data. It’s how we communicate, both internally and externally. It’s how critical business functions like payroll, billing, inventory management, and even sales are executed. And it’s where that all-important customer data is stored and protected, among other things.
Therefore, evaluating how your IT environment is being supported is critical and something that every business should do on a regular basis. Maybe the exercise confirms that you are super-happy with your current IT support services provider. Perhaps your current provider is doing a good job, but asking a few pointed questions shakes them up so that they start doing a great job. Or maybe you identify an opportunity to save money and get better support. Any way you look at it, you’ve learned something valuable.
If Re-Thinking Your IT Support Services Has Left You Wanting More…
Well, you’re in luck! It just so happens that we are well-known for providing exceptional IT support solutions to a variety of small and medium-sized businesses. You can actually learn more by reading a few of our specific business case studies.
Even better, we’d be happy to provide you with a free IT consultation. Give us 30 minutes of your time and we will give you a no-obligation consultation with one of our experts. Request a call from our team today!