With 2017 well under way, it’s the perfect time to review your IT Support contract to ensure you’re receiving the best value through the coming year.
According to recent research, 72% of UK businesses suffered 43 hours of downtime over the last year.
The cost of this downtime is estimated to be £521 per employee, for a total nationwide loss of 149 million hours and £12.3 billion (with a b)!
Even if you have only experienced half as much downtime, it is easy to see how important it is that you have a solid IT helpdesk backing up your business.
In today’s post we’re going to lay out some simple questions to ask IT Support providers when reviewing your infrastructure this year
1. What is Your IT Support Experience?
We’re all for giving young businesses a chance, but you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to stake your business and reputation on a company who has only been around for five minutes.
Before digging into the details, be sure to ask:
- How many years have you been around?
- Do you have any clients in my industry?
- Can I speak to any of your customers?
As many as 50% of small businesses fail within their first five years.
Consider also that the managed services industry is an overcrowded market. Stick to providers who have been around for five years or longer if you want greater peace of mind.
Team structure is another important factor because very large organisations experience a gulf between junior and senior staff.
The sweet spot will be a company that is big enough to provide a quality proactive service, but small enough that senior talent works ‘in the trenches’ with the rest of the helpdesk.
2. What Security Measures are in Place?
Check out this video and then tell us that security isn’t important!
Naturally, you will want to ask IT helpdesk providers what encryption and authentication protocols they have in place.
The following are also worth asking:
- What are your physical security measures?
- How will you back up my data?
- Tell me about your risk management strategy
A risk management strategy is something that any provider worth their salt will implement as this plays into the increasingly proactive nature of the IT services industry.
Your provider must help you not just help you when things go wrong – they must proactively ensure that attacks and faults don’t even occur in the first place!
3. What SLAs are Available?
Any business owner will be hyperaware of hidden costs and sneaky fine print.
A clearly written service-level agreement will ensure you don’t get caught out.
It goes without saying that you will want to ask helpdesk providers things like:
- Is the given price really the entire cost?
- Will you proactively monitor my systems?
- Are contracts rolling or will I be tied in?
It can typically take 4 – 6 months to really gauge the effectiveness of an IT support provider, depending on the size of your organisation.
Nevertheless, alarm bells should be ringing if a company immediately insists that you sign into a three-year contract with no flexibility.
Confirm beforehand what will happen the level of service you will receive, as well as what kind of exit path is in place if you decide to change providers in the future.
4. How Do You Service Your Customers?
This is similar to the topic of SLAs.
Customer service is more important than ever for business-to-business relationships, so it’s well worth taking a minute to ask what each provider holds as its core values.
Small and mid-sized IT support providers can often provide a more personal or bespoke service, but be sure to ask:
- Will I have an account manager?
- Is your support team on-site or do you outsource?
- Do you regularly train your staff?
Continual improvement and development of staff is vital in an industry where technology is advancing such a dizzying pace.
A great IT helpdesk company will stay up to date with advancements in technology and practices so you don’t have to.
5. How Will You Manage My Business as it Grows?
Forcing a square block through a round hole is not going to work for very long in business.
Your IT Support provider must provide enough flexibility for your business as it grows and evolves throughout the duration of your contract.
Make sure your provider can answer the following questions:
- Will you provide an IT Roadmap for my business?
- How do your contracts allow for scalability?
- Can I change my plan mid-term if needed?
An IT Roadmap is a great way of ensuring a bespoke service that is specific to your business.
A senior technician should take the time to sit with you and discuss what your plans are for the coming months and years so that there are no surprises down the line.
Another benefit of planning ahead is that an outsider’s perspective might actually provide some insights and ideas that you hadn’t considered outside of the IT arena.
Call us today to discuss your IT plans for 2017 and you’ll quickly see that we tick all the boxes!