Proactivity, forethought, expertise – What your IT provider should be providing
Out with the old, in with the new
Technology has made the world a smaller place by opening the doors, both in normal daily life and in the world of business. Tech is now at the forefront of operations for businesses across the globe. Years ago it was only the mega rich corporations that could afford to utilise technology to its full potential but that has all changed, and it is now intertwined into most of our work lives no matter the size of the business. Smaller businesses are gradually realising that, with the help of technology, they can dramatically improve the levels of efficiency their team are able to produce – and that same tech can help them to ensure compliance to their own regulatory bodies.
Let’s break this down for those not familiar with the term IT support.
IT support – What is it?
IT support is the process of managing and maintaining IT across a business. The length that support goes to is completely dependent on your provider and what the technological services are that they offer, but, on most occasions, it will consist of support from a Helpdesk that offers a reactive solution to your problems.
We will now dissect your current IT situation and explore what more should be being done by your provider in order for you to get a service that will benefit not just the IT in your company but your organization as a whole, now and into the future.
The current state of IT support
Poor or non-existent communication
The individuals in charge of finding fixes and working out strategies for the future of your IT as and when requested are masters of their craft, however, unfortunately, what they often lack is the communication skills to match it. This lack of communication often leads to a poor relationship – or at the very least a confusing one – between the customer and the provider; because the provider will have little knowledge of the organization they are working with, the goals they have, and the way in which they carry out their business, and the customer will have no idea if their expectations are going to be met, or if the action taken (if any at all) is right for what they hope to achieve.
Contractually limited availability
It is hard to believe, but some providers limit the amount of call outs you are entitled to within your monthly allowance according to your contract – this is simply ridiculous as there is no way of knowing how many problems your system is going to have in a month. An IT provider that provides a service such as this is not a good one.
Reactive not Proactive
Most IT providers act like an insurance provider and this is not good enough. IT providers are clever – they use words like ‘proactive’ to spike your interest and increase your chances of buying – when, in reality, they have no intention of providing proactive support.
So, what should an IT provider be doing as part of their service?
What IT support should mean
Service level agreements (SLA’s)
A Service Level Agreement consists of the terms of service agreed by you and the provider, which are the minimum service parameters that your provider will abide by according to the contract you both signed. These parameters can be personalised, but they are often based around response times, reaction times, and grading levels according to the urgency of the assistance you need. You must know what you are signing up for! It is essential, because, without knowing exactly what you are committing to, you run the risk of the agreement not meeting the support needs of your organization and being stuck with this unsatisfactory service for the duration of your contract.
A proactive strategy born out of clear thought
An insurance policy style IT arrangement is not appropriate in today’s modern world. All good IT providers will micromanage the technological landscape of your organisation, so pay special attention when they are doing this – you can quickly tell whether your IT support will be managed with a proactive or reactive approach. All good providers will have an overall proactive approach – don’t get me wrong – reactive strategies and plans are essential in the eventuality of unforeseen circumstances, but the main points of their strategy should centre around forethought and proactivity.
Once having broken down your business into easier to manage sections – this usually happens by department as there is already the infrastructure in place to work from – they examine your workflow and change the way tasks are carried out if they pose a threat to the cyber security of the organisation. This is also a process that allows for preparation in the eventuality of an inevitable cyber-attack, allowing your IT support to limit the damage caused by a cyber attacker even if they can’t stop them altogether – ensuring that if the spillage is inevitable you have a mop at the ready for clean up so the entire floor doesn’t get wet.
Constant – and scheduled – communication
Easily the most important feature that weeds out the great providers from the good is the level of communication that they offer. A great IT provider will be in contact with you on a structured and agreed timetable – and, if necessary – off schedule. I’m not saying you should expect a call every day to see how you are getting on and if they can help – but you should look out for clear effort being made to get to know you, your team, your vision for your company, its history, and the ethos that it all functions by. It is only by making an effort with all these things that will ensure the IT solutions they implement will be right for your business – not only now but into the future. Ideally, your provider will have worked with other organisations in your sector before and therefore be familiar with some of the challenges that you all struggle with. If this is the case they will be familiar with the regulations and compliance obligations that businesses in your sector must adhere to, allowing them to adjust their IT solutions accordingly. It is also important that – at the soonest opportunity – you speak with or meet the individual in charge of your account, as it is this stranger who will have free reign over the IT infrastructure of your entire organisation. Therefore, having a good rapport with them could be the difference between a prosperous future with IT as a powerful ally, or the alternative – a future struggling to keep up with your competition due to poor IT management.
Expect nothing less than a strategically aligned approach to your IT. It should help your team to complete their daily activities to a better standard, at a quicker rate, in a safer manner, or all of the above. Your IT provider should make every effort to intertwine your IT seamlessly into your existing workflow (where applicable), in the process enhancing some of the key points that make your business a success – efficiency, profitability, and communication.
In the following and last blog in the series we will delve deeper into what to expect from your IT provider, and reveal to you that, if done correctly, IT, with the right support, can revolutionise the way you choose to do business.
IT support – the right way
Business owners aren’t getting what they pay for when it comes to IT support – this simply isn’t acceptable. Our team offers a wide range of managed IT service plans specifically catered to fit your organisation’s needs whatever your budget. We utilise cutting edge technology to improve the efficiency of your business whilst simultaneously ensuring we adhere to your company ethos and the way that you like to do things. Get in contact and find out how we can work together to achieve your goals with IT as a powerful weapon in your arsenal.