As a small business owner, time spent on IT support can end up taking time away from the things you need to do. You need to spend your time managing and running your business, without getting caught in an IT trap or the vicious break and fix cycle, which can drain financial resources, management time, and your patience. Whether it’s taking care of nuisance computer repair issues or hiring a managed services provider to handle all your IT, professional IT support can be a critical factor in small business success.
Types of Services Offered:
Use professional IT support for as many or as few services as you need. If you have a dedicated IT person on staff, you may only need advanced tech support. If you fly solo, look for managed IT services to provide software support, troubleshooting, computer repair, server maintenance, and other solutions. Professional tech services can set up a VPN or virtual private network, monitor network safety and security, and perform data backup.
With professional computer support, you can choose between remote support or on-call assistance. The right managed IT services firm will have employees on call during your business hours that have familiarity with the services you use. Remote access service through chat, email, or telephone helps your employees troubleshoot quick problems without pouring over a manual. If a problem arises, look for on-call IT support to get the technicians into your office to manage maintenance, computer repair, and troubleshooting. When possible, a computer repair company may offer same-day appointments designed to get your business back on track as soon as possible.
Some computer support services offer a range of professionally managed IT support programs, to help small businesses find the right level of technological help. Choose from annual plans that ensure all of your needs are met, so you can remain as competitive as possible. If your small business isn’t tech-driven, an incidence plan may be a better fit. These types of plans ensure that you get IT support when you need it, on a per-incident basis. Pay a one-time fee when you need help, then don’t pay again until the next time something goes wrong. Managed IT services don’t have to be expensive, so choose the level of support that works well for your business.
The right solution for you will support the type of equipment that you employ, and be familiar with market options should you add additional functionality. Look for IT support services with knowledge of:
- Microsoft Windows Servers
- Microsoft Exchange Servers
- Microsoft Small Business Servers
Additional areas to consider include:
- Voice over IP (VoIP)
- Tablet security
- Smartphone security
- Security threats
- Spyware, malware, and virus cleanup
- Data backup
- Data recovery
- Network support
If you are a Mac office, make sure your tech support firm is Apple-friendly. Additionally, ensure your IT support company is based in the U.S. and keeps standard business hours that mirror your own hours.
Time savings won’t be the only small business benefit to choosing managed IT services. Unless you’re a tech whiz, you may not have the ability to diagnose and fix sever errors, equipment malfunctions, and other problems on your own. Failure to act promptly to correct the problem can make matters worse. Additionally, if you’re not a tech pro, calling the shots under duress can be extremely stressful. If you ask one of your employees to handle it because you think their tech skills are better, this puts them in an awkward position if they cannot fix it – and may make matters worse. Sometimes, outsourcing is the best option for all of your employees.
Finding a Firm
Look locally for tech support firms that are geared for small business. When you find potential matches, ask for client references. Check the references, then pick a provider that has a reputation for excellent customer service, fast response rate, and knows the equipment you use. Local Chambers of Commerce can also be great referral sources, and checking with your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau is a good way to investigate a potential supplier’s track record.