What is IT support and how can it help you?
While technology plays a massive part in all our lives, both at work and home, the world of IT support can still be a bit of a mystery to anyone not working in the sector. Even if you’re relatively tech-savvy, the jargon spouted by a lot of IT companies makes it hard to understand what we actually do or how we can help, beyond handling everyday computing issues.
But today, IT support isn’t just about fixing problems: it’s evolved to cover a whole range of complex and strategic needs. It’s about helping you to get the most out of your technology, ensuring that you achieve your business goals, and providing you with a team of tech experts who speak your language, and who are dedicated to keeping your business secure and up to date.
A good IT support team will be able to:
- Identify what you need from your IT set-up, both now and in the longer term
- Work out the right hardware and software for your business, design a network that’s secure and efficient, and get everything up and running for you. And if you already have an IT set-up, they’ll review what you’re using, check how well it’s working and recommend any improvements you might want to make
- Monitor your system usage and identify any problems, apply instant fixes and build longer-term solutions
- Develop and execute an IT security strategy
- Support your business continuity planning and develop an IT disaster recovery plan
- Run ongoing IT training for your staff
- Manage users’ day-to-day queries and requests for help
Depending on your company’s size and in-house resources, you might be able to handle some of these tasks yourself. But outsourcing them to an IT support company offers some major benefits:
Help your staff to focus on their work
Even the most basic IT tasks can be distracting and time-consuming. And even if your team can handle everyday IT jobs, wouldn’t you prefer them to spend their time working on something more productive and even if your team can handle everyday IT jobs, wouldn’t you prefer them to spend their time working on something more productive and valuable to your business?” Outsourcing your tech needs to a dedicated IT team allows your employees to get on with their day jobs.
Solve problems ahead of time
If you only tackle IT problems when they surface, they’re likely to slow down your business, no matter how fast you get them fixed. But real-time, 24/7 monitoring of your IT network allows an IT support company to spot and solve issues before you even notice them. And they can also carry out diagnostics on your network, to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
Strengthen your data security
In a world of constantly evolving security threats, it’s harder than ever to protect sensitive information – both your own and that of your clients or customers. One of the best ways to safeguard your data is by using an IT support company with specialist knowledge and experience of the latest cybersecurity issues. They’ll test your systems’ resilience to hacking, viruses and other malicious attacks, fix any vulnerabilities, and stay on the lookout for any attacks or emerging risks.
Use technology more strategically
IT is a complex and constantly changing landscape, full of new business opportunities to explore. But it’s hard to see the bigger picture when you’re also handling all the other demands of running a business. An outside IT support company, with up-to-date knowledge and insight into the latest developments in the sector, is perfectly placed to help you develop and implement an IT roadmap to achieve your business goals.
Get expert guidance
IT is a complex and highly specialised field, where – without the right guidance – it’s only too easy to make bad, and ultimately costly mistakes. But by partnering with a good IT support company, you gain access to the knowledge and experience of a whole team of certified experts. With their help, you’ll be able to avoid any potential pitfalls and develop a robust, efficient IT system that’s tailored to your needs.
Make sure you’re supported 24/7
Even if you have a dedicated IT engineer or team, there may be times when they aren’t available – for example, because they’re unwell, on holiday or tied up with other projects. Bringing an external IT support company on board, as well as or instead of your own team, gives you the peace of mind that someone will always be available to keep your IT systems running, no matter what happens.
Only pay for the help you need
For a lot of businesses, hiring an in-house IT engineer simply isn’t an option. Either they can’t afford another full-time member of staff or wouldn’t have enough work to keep them busy. And if you don’t have any IT expertise yourself, how do you know what to look for in an engineer, and how to oversee their work or develop their skills? Even for larger companies, the cost of hiring and managing a skilled, in-house team of IT professionals can be prohibitive. So financially, it often makes more sense to use an external IT support company that can provide as much help as you need, whenever you need it. There are a number of support models you can choose from, depending on the size of your company and the number of staff using your technology:
a) IT Service Desk
A team of experts at the end of the phone, who can either fix a problem for you during a call, or – if they can’t solve it remotely – send an engineer to your office.
Pros: This kind of “break-fix” support model tends to be cheaper and is useful for solving day to day IT issues you can’t handle yourself. If your tech needs and set-up are fairly simple, this can be a good, cost-effective option.
Cons: A Service Desk won’t be able to proactively support and maintain your IT set-up. So if you have a major issue like a server failure and are being billed by the hour, this can prove costly.
b) Dedicated IT Service Desk and Technical Consultants
Because you always see the same engineers, they get to know your systems inside-out and gain a better sense of your IT needs. Based off-site, you can get access to them through a ticketing system managed by the Service Desk. And depending on the type of contract you have, you can also arrange for them to make regular, scheduled site visits. Sometimes, this type of contract also includes proactive maintenance and more strategic support, like security and disaster recovery planning.
Pros: The extra support offered by dedicated engineers helps you to use technology more strategically. By seeing you regularly and building a relationship with you, these engineers get to know your business and are therefore better placed to help you develop an IT roadmap. And because your set-up is being proactively managed, you’re less likely to see major outages.
Cons: This level of support is going to cost more, so you need to feel confident that your business will benefit from this level of strategic input. And that you have an IT budget that allows you to invest in technology.
c) Your own in-house IT team
Engineers who are based at your office and who, although part of your team in every way, are employed by the IT support company. So you have all the benefits of a permanent, full-time team or member of staff, but without any of the HR obligations.
Pros: If you have a large and complex business and you are growing rapidly, this model will provide a higher level of support. An in-house team will be able to support your employees faster and they’ll have a detailed understanding of your business operations, so they can contribute to your wider operational plans. Also, if any of the Engineers are absent due to holiday, training or sickness etc it would be the IT Support company’s responsibility to provide cover so you’ll never be without a fully resourced team.
Cons: While this level of support is a lot more expensive, you’re also getting a much higher level of support. To get the best out of this kind of team, they need to be included in your company’s day to day operations. And it’s also important to ensure that your IT support company hires people that fit your organisational culture to avoid employee churn.
So what’s next?
Okay, so you think you think you could benefit from some outside IT support, and you’ve got an idea which model would best fit your needs and budget. But how do you choose the right IT support company, from all the options out there?
The main thing is to do your homework on any company you’re considering – for example by asking them to provide client testimonials, looking at their qualifications and how long their business has been running. As well as checking their general expertise and reliability, you also need to decide whether they’re a good fit for your business:
- If you’re not an IT expert, do they talk your language, understand your issues and explain solutions in a way you understand?
- Do you like them on a personal level, and feel that you’d work well together?
- Can they demonstrate a track record of supporting businesses that are similar to yours – companies of a similar size, for example, or in the same sector?
- Do they have special expertise in the operating system you use – i.e. PC or Mac? (A lot of PC companies claim to also support Apple, but don’t know it well enough – which can cause issues down the line).
And lastly – never rush into anything. When you approach an IT support company, it’s always best to start with an initial conversation about what you’re looking for, then follow up with a face-to-face meeting where you can talk about their proposal in more detail.
Of course it goes without saying that we’d love you to choose us but we don’t want to be pushy so why not give us a ring or ping us an email. We’d really like to hear from you and have an initial chat about your IT challenges.
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If this is you get in touch!