Although some technology manufacturers have invested in support help desk operations, with increasingly complex networks in place, smaller businesses run the risk of having to phone through several help desks before getting to the root of the problem. If the fault lies within the network, businesses might face the problem of having to call their network provider, phone line provider and internet service provider to find out where the problem lies.
While manufacturer support lines are often ideal for equipment-specific queries, many businesses won’t find all the answers they need to solve the problem in a single phone call. However, many help desks are able to put customers in touch with local IT service providers to solve more complex issues.
Choosing an appropriate partner
Regardless of size, every organisation need to come up with a methodical and strategic approach for maintaining its IT infrastructure. It is inevitable that an organisation using IT will face an associated problem at some stage, despite the claims of product reliability and user-friendly interfaces. The days of simply rebooting a PC are long gone and end-users have grown increasingly reliant on having their problems solved as soon as they happen, but some problems can still be too complex to take care of by an on-site IT department.
In recent years there’s been an increase in the different IT service and support models offered to businesses, so it is important for organisations to choose their specialists wisely. Today, suppliers are keen to offer businesses their own support and there are also an increasing amount of IT service providers.
Many service specialists now offer one-off fees, or ‘pay as you go’ deals for maintenance, but the danger is that the consistency and – more importantly – the urgency of help is not always up to scratch. Smaller businesses in particular are so reliant on IT that it is important they consider 24/7 service, ideally from a local provider. This approach ensures that businesses are safe in the knowledge that any issues are responded to with urgency and with the top-level customer care.
Even though many organisations have internal IT teams or managers in place, businesses should still look into added support. IT services specialists are capable of working with internal IT teams and managers, to harness the potential of the equipment and can work to complement the existing technology requirements.
Choosing the best technology support company can seem tricky, so decision makers should start by assessing what the business needs are. Aspects that organisations of all sizes should look at are the provision of proactive service and what type of cover is provided under specific contracts. It is absolutely imperative that companies choose the right package and service levels to meet the requirements of their business.
One of the major pitfalls for businesses is basing the decision purely on price and this often leads to service levels that are not in tune with the actual requirements. The problem is that many SMEs only think of technology when there is a problem. To avoid such issues cropping up in the future, companies should contact their preferred IT service provider and discuss a thorough strategy on how to approach technology. Most of the reputable service providers are able to sit down and provide an audit on what the business’ technology needs are and how to maintain the existing infrastructure.
To map out how technology and the business integrates, IT Managers and Directors should be looking at the overall aim of the business, what the staff need during the working day and if there is a requirement to perform more effectively, whether by sharing information or improving workflow.
Another point for businesses to include in their IT service plan is software licence agreements. Most reputable service providers will be able to offer services that monitor and ensure that all software licences are up to date. It was not long ago when The Business Software Alliance announced that it has fined a UK company a record £250,000 for software licence infringements.
There is a plenitude of aspects that an IT service contract can cover. Whether it is from remotely monitoring networks and ensuring that problems are rectified before they affect the bottom line of the business or offsite data back-up in case of an unexpected catastrophe that might hinder businesses from operating. For smaller businesses without the resources to run an IT department, service contracts and service providers are key. IT services can alleviate the pressure on the in house IT teams and ensure that systems run smoothly and profitably.
Businesses can avoid unnecessary problems associated with IT services by sitting down with their chosen provider and discussing the various options available. IT services can deliver significant benefits to the business and can solve problems either remotely or by site visits from trained professionals.
Benefits of IT Services:
• Better service levels – commodity solutions tend to have many thousands of users, so any bugs are quickly noticed and fixed. In addition, utility-type suppliers can afford to maintain well-staffed telephone help lines, and invest in the technology to reduce customer down-time as well as a faster fix in case of system break down.
• Better security – utility-type suppliers are likely to keep up-to-date with best practice in IT security. In contrast, lone IT technicians might overlook some important safeguards.
• Lower costs – it can be cheaper to buy from large utility-type suppliers because their fixed costs are spread over a large number of customers. This allows them to reduce prices while still investing in development and training.
• Relevant expertise – utility-type suppliers have a wider pool of IT technicians so they can send different experts to deal with different types of jobs. In contrast, smaller IT operations often become ‘jack of all trades’, rushing from one type of problem to another, all of which might be unrelated to their particular area of expertise.
It is important for businesses to know that all their IT concerns are answered under one roof and one support contract. Businesses looking for IT support should weigh the benefits of having a support contract against one-off payments and the quality of service. Where support contracts may seem like a big investment, for smaller businesses’ having just one telephone number to contact for support is often worth it.