How To Find The Right IT MSP For Your Business
IT Support for Small Businesses and Firms
When do you think about getting IT support? Like many business owners, you may only think about it when you’re experiencing IT problems, need advice, don’t understand how something works, need help for something outside your skill set (like adding or deleting new users or licenses), or when you’re worried you’ve been hacked. It’s a cost of doing business that, badly handled, can cripple your business.
Alternatively, when managed properly, IT support is simply a tool that helps you get the most out of your small business or Firm. A service that smoothly supports your team do their day to day jobs without you, as owner or Practice Manager, being distracted by ongoing IT issues. And it should be something that doesn’t make you or your Accounts department fall over backwards every time you get invoiced!
Really, good IT support is like background music. Something that runs in the background, makes your workday more pleasant and efficient, and that you can choose to ‘turn up’ at any time you want more from it.
How Do You Get Good IT Support?
A couple of things effect the quality and level support you can receive.
- What you need.
- Technical capabilities.
- Delivery capabilities.
What Support Your Small Business or Practice Needs
Do you know what elements within your Firm or office requires, or may require, technical support? Things such as managing the lifecycle and security of your IT devices, servers and photocopiers, data backup, internet, hosted (cloud) services, line of business apps, online conferencing, phones and phone lines, keeping track of software licensing and helping employees who don’t like or understand technology?
What level of support do you need to manage those things? Whatever you decide has flow on consequences to your schedule. Aside from capital expenditure decisions and future planning, what level of involvement do you want to have in handling day-to-day IT issues? Do you want to be over every conversation and in charge of troubleshooting IT and communication, or would you prefer someone else to handle that?
Perhaps you are currently the ‘go to’ person for IT issues in your business, or it’s someone else in your team. Maybe you use someone you can call “whenever” to fix matters as they arise, such as a local IT ‘geek’, a friend of a friend or a family member of an employee. This may work for you, but please keep in mind three important factors.
- If, as owner or manager, you’re the ‘go to’ person, is fixing IT issues the best use of your time?
- How often are matters arising? Are problems getting resolved, or do they keep recurring? Are you losing more money in downtime than you’re saving by not having efficient IT support?
- (Please, this one is really important!) Please make sure your confidential and crucial business data is being backed up! If you don’t have a data backup system, please order one today! If you do have one, please make sure today that your backup system is working! Don’t accept assurances, get proof! Click here for my foolproof tip you can do to check your backup system is working. If something goes wrong, it’s not ‘backup’ that matters – it’s being able to recover your data! (Learn how the company I work for, itro, monitors backup and disaster recovery solutions to ensure they are always )
The fast-changing, interconnected world of IT and communications and increased need for cyber security means anyone looking after your IT must have more than “a knack” for technology. Whatever size business or Firm you operate, the changed landscape of IT security means you need a wide range of technical skills backing you to successfully manage and support your team.
Unless your business or Firm is at a size or profitability where you can maintain your own in-house team, by far the cheapest way to access specialised skills across networking, cloud capabilities, cyber security, hosted systems, conferencing, internet and telecommunication connectivity, data management, managing third party vendor relationships, and more, is to partner with a Managed Services Provider.
I work with a team of skilled engineers and I can assure you, not one of them would tell you they would prefer to be solely responsible for managing every aspect of a business’s IT needs. Good IT support relies just as much on being proactive as being technically capable, especially with cyber security. Having a team of engineers to bounce ideas and experience off is ideal for proactive management!
Systems and devices need to be constantly updated to stay ahead of cyber threats, and engineers need to make sure they are keeping up to date with new tools and technologies to keep their clients’ systems working efficiently and their data, devices and stakeholders cyber safe. The Australian Government has provided some excellent questions you should ask of your Managed Service Provider to assess their personal commitment to cyber security alertness, and what level of protection they are offering to your systems. Refer to the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Questions to Ask Managed Service Providers here.
Remember how I referred to IT support as ‘background music’? Something that runs in the background, that should make your workday more pleasant, and that you can choose to ‘turn up’ at any time you want more from it.
For IT support to be easy, any IT provider you partner with needs to be able to deliver its services in a way that works for you and your team. The following are some common delivery capabilities that make getting IT support easy:
- Hours of support
- Cost of Support
- Easy to Understand
- Remote Support
- Proactive Support
- Right Fit
Hours of Support
This is a simple one. Check that your Provider’s standard operating hours match with yours. Also check what support is on offer outside of your Provider’s standard operating hours (eg, after hours, public holidays, etc), and what extra charges may be incurred during those times.
Something else to consider is whether you need 24/7 IT Support. For example, if your business operates across multiple time zones, paying for 24/7 support makes perfect sense however, 24/7 may not offer your business enough benefit to justify the added cost.
Your choice of IT partner to manage your systems and security can also impact your need for 24/7 support. Please refer to my comments further down, under ‘Proactive Support’.
Cost of Support
Whilst some businesses like to work on a reactive ‘break and fix’ relationship, frequently the best way to avoid bill shock and transfer responsibility of managing your IT to your Provider is through having a Managed Services Support Plan, for a set monthly fee. If a Provider is asking you to sign a contract to engage their services, always check the fine print (please refer to ‘Related articles’ links at the end for more information and tips).
The company I work for, itro, manages IT support services for businesses and Firms ranging in size from single practitioners, less than 5 employees and up to 100 employees through our two different Managed Support Plans.
In addition, itro offers a unique Self-Managed Support Plan designed for inhouse for IT Departments. Called, ‘itro Self-Serve’, this Plan is designed specifically for in-house IT Managers with limited resources. We ensure you retain full ownership and transferal rights of your systems and data. To learn more please contact [email protected] for more information.
Easy to Understand
One of the simplest things to make IT support easy is being able to call a local team of engineers who speak plain English. I recommend you find out where a Provider’s first call support responders are located – locally or at an overseas call centre? Whilst overseas call centres offer the benefit of crossing time zones, local engineers have the benefit of understanding the local culture of your team and operating under the same Australian business laws as you.
2020 has been a brutal year for teaching businesses the importance of being able to run their operations and team remotely, and reports indicate that Australian businesses are unlikely to ever return to ‘normal’ staffing levels in the office. It’s imperative that your devices, systems, communications and security can be managed remotely, whenever required, and that your IT Provider can supply your remote workers with internet, hosted phone, conferencing and collaboration tools that work reliably wherever they are located.
itro’s talented, local engineers will give your team the support, internet connectivity and cloud tools they need to do their jobs from any location.
Proactive support takes into consideration your existing and potential business needs to save you money! Managed IT Services is meant to be about transferring the risk of managing IT from you to your Provider. The importance of receiving proactive support and advice cannot be underestimated. At itro our responsibility to our clients is to be constantly alert to identify new opportunities, threats or potential issues that could impact your Firm or business so we can advise you on how to take advantage or avoid issues before they become a costly problem, such as data theft or issues arising outside of business hours.
Something else that plays a big part in getting good IT support is having a good working relationship with your Provider. To do that you need to pick a Provider that fits your culture and what you value.
Your business values as a Practice Manager, business owner or senior management not only shape your view of ‘success’, but also the type of partnership an outsourced IT Provider can have with you.
For example, if you are looking for ‘cheap and cheerful IT’ using consumer grade hardware or unlicensed software, or are willing to overpay for subscriptions and services under the guise of ‘24/7 support’ and complex contracts, itro is not the MSP for you. Think about things that you value in your existing working relationships, why they work so well, and use that to create an outline of what values you want a Provider to live by in working with you.
The Right MSP for Your Small Business or Firm
Hopefully I’ve provided you with some practical ideas, links and tips on how you can get the right IT Support for your business or Firm. Partnering with the right MSP (Managed Service Provider) gives you get a team of IT engineers whose whole purpose is to maximise the efficiency and security of the devices and systems of your small business or Practice. Having the right ‘background music’ – IT support – frees up your team to focus on what they need to do to keep your business profitable.
itro has been managing IT for businesses and Firms for over two decades. We do not lock our clients into Fixed Contracts as we want our clients to stay with us because they love the service we give, not because they are contractually trapped.
If you’re looking for a new IT Provider, unhappy with the service you’re currently getting or just discovered your data backup isn’t working, please give itro a call on 1800 10 3000 or email [email protected] today. We’d love the opportunity to work with you.