Gartner predicts that IT spending will increase by 5.3% to reach $4.6 trillion in 2023.
That’s because large businesses plan to spend big on digital initiatives to reduce overall operations costs and save money. They might cut back in other areas in response to the economy, but not IT spending.
If you’re a small to mid-sized business, you can’t compete with bigger companies that have IT budgets.
You can hire IT support services to help you manage your network, provide tech support to staff, and keep your systems operating as efficiently as possible.
Finding the right IT support service provider is a challenge for businesses. How can you be sure that you have the best provider to meet your unique business needs?
Keep reading, because you’re about to learn 10 tips to find the best business IT support services in your area.
1. Assess Your Business Needs
The reason why it’s hard to find a good IT service provider is that IT management services look different for each company.
Your business has unique needs, and if you don’t know what they are, you won’t find a provider to match them.
Go through your business and look at the pain points. Are there projects that get held up because of IT issues? Do you handle tech support requests from your staff? Do you have an existing IT department that’s putting out fires all day?
Learn how software gets updated and how often your network goes down. Calculate how many devices get used on your network.
You’ll be able to come up with a list of priorities for the IT service company to handle. That makes it much easier to find the right company that can handle your needs.
2. Experience and Location
You would think that with technology being what it is, you can hire IT support services from anywhere. That’s not the best option.
Technology enables remote access to computers and devices to diagnose issues. Yet, there are some issues that just can’t get handled remotely.
You want to have IT support close to your main office. They can stop by quickly to diagnose and repair issues quickly.
IT support services should be knowledgeable in your industry. Some industries like healthcare and finance have special privacy requirements.
A company that doesn’t understand what they are could put your business at risk by mishandling sensitive data.
Not only that, the IT support service team can make recommendations to improve your systems based on what worked for others in your industry.
3. They Can Work With Your Existing Systems
There are business IT support services that specialize in working with certain systems.
You might come across a provider that’s knowledgeable in SalesForce. Another provider works with AWS or other cloud services.
These areas of expertise are great, but only if you have those systems or plan to migrate to them. In the meantime, you want to have a service team that works with your existing systems.
Your servers might run Linux or another operating system that’s not Windows. Many companies know and understand Windows, but they might not know Linux.
That will only cause frustration for you and the IT service team because they don’t know how to manage it effectively.
4. Certifications and Awards
Certifications and awards are highly impressive. That is until you realize that they can get bought to make people and companies look better than they really are.
It’s up to you to get a list of the service providers’ certifications, vendor partnerships, and experience. You can verify the certifications by contacting the companies that provide them.
It’s also helpful to get references from potential partners and contact them. Ask them about their experience working with the company and if there’s anything they’d do differently.
5. IT Support and Security Protocols
Small and mid-size businesses lost on average $212,000 because of cyberattacks. These attacks didn’t happen to those businesses, but to their third-party vendors.
IT security is a major threat to all businesses. Check to see how the IT service provider handles security in-house.
If they don’t have a detailed security policy, chances are they’ll be a threat to your business. They won’t be able to protect your business from outside threats, either.
Find out how they handle security for their clients. Do they recommend software? Do they train employees to spot phishing scams?
The more involved a company is in security, the better it is for your business.
6. The Services Are Scalable
Do you expect your business to grow over the next few years? Maybe you expect to reduce staff to survive the economic crisis.
You need to have as much flexibility in your plan as possible to get through unpredictable times. The IT support services you choose should allow you to scale down or up if you need to without worrying about breaking a contract.
7. You Ask the Right Questions
How can you be sure that you have the best IT support services? Have a list of questions ready to go as you interview and meet with companies.
Your business can suffer an outage at any moment. You don’t expect your service provider to be on call 24/7, but you do expect them to have the plan to handle these moments.
Ask how off-hours issues get handled. You might learn that off-hours support isn’t included in your plan and there are significant costs to weekend and overnight issues.
Find out how issues get tracked and escalated when they get called in. Be sure that the system is airtight so nothing falls through the cracks.
Will the support service company work with your vendors, such as a hosting company or ISP? This could be necessary to diagnose and resolve network issues.
8. Proactive vs. Reactive Approach
It’s highly likely that you have a reactive IT plan in place now. In other words, you don’t fix anything until there’s a problem with it.
That approach costs you time and money. You don’t want IT support and services to repeat the pattern.
They should take a proactive approach. That means updating software, maintaining servers, and developing a long-term strategy.
The best IT support services anticipate issues and fix them before they affect your business. They can also spot technology trends and advise you as to where your IT budget should go.
For example, they might recommend implementing artificial intelligence or a cloud migration to make your systems more efficient.
9. Onboarding Process
The best IT support services not only take a strategic approach, but they’re well organized. They have a thorough onboarding process for new clients.
It’s important to know what that process looks like so you can set your own expectations. You might expect an IT company to start playing with your network right away.
Their process could take a couple of months to get that far. They need to assign roles and responsibilities, perform a site audit, and then make recommendations.
The IT support services that you hire should also have a clear plan to handle issues and questions. You should know who to contact, the expected response time, and the tracking methods.
10. Contract Details
At this point, you’re negotiating a contract with an IT managed service provider. Read the details of the contract carefully. This is where you learn if your conversations are all talk and the provider really doesn’t meet your requirements.
Look at the scope of work section of the contract. This details the services they provide and ask if there’s anything not listed that you expect them to do.
You may learn later on that additional services cost more right when you need them. Having to come up with the extra cash in an emergency won’t help you at all.
Look at the pricing structure and make sure it matches your expectations, whether it’s a flat rate or an hourly rate on retainer.
In the end, you want to have a provider that is a strategic partner that can provide helpful tips, and keep your business secure, and operating efficiently.
Find the Best Business IT Support Services
IT support comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s rare to find a company that takes a one-size fits all approach to providing support.
That’s why you need to start with your business needs before you look for IT support services. Be sure to ask the questions presented here and follow the other tips in this article.
You’ll be able to find an IT support service provider that’s a perfect match for your needs.
If you learned a lot about IT support services and want to know other great tech tips, head over to the Technology section of this site.