02 Feb What to look for in your IT support
Almost every business in the world relies on some form of IT for vital business functions. This reliance is only going to grow as time goes on, so it is essential that your technology is capable of streamlining – and automating – your work processes.
Businesses rely heavily upon their IT infrastructure to get their work completed to the highest possible standard. Therefore, it must be managed, maintained, and allowed to evolve organically with your IT needs at the time. With the conversion to remote work that most of us have gone through due to Covid-19 – this necessity has been further accentuated.
Your IT provider may already be doing a good job of giving you the tools you need, but, regardless, you must regularly review your provider. It is essential that you hold them accountable for any issues.
The consequences of poor IT support
Downtime – that is all we need to say! It can spell disaster, and businesses all over the world are constantly spending money on ways to avoid it. Poor performance, downtime, or misaligned configurations can be far more damaging than business owners think. As the old adage goes ‘time is money’ and this is such a true statement, because time wasting and interruptions, regardless of the reasoning behind them, will be silently costing you money. Frequent IT delays or outages can even influence staff morale, which we have all experienced – the frustration when the system won’t do as it’s told can really affect our attitudes toward work.
Customers can learn of your IT woes too. There are many scenarios that could unfold involving IT that could hinder the customer experience. An interruption to your operations could delay production or delivery of products and/or services to customers, which will not only cost you financially but on a reputational standpoint too.
Consistent IT issues could cause clients to take their business elsewhere. Customer experience is by far the most important element required to ensure a successful business – you must always aim to not just meet but exceed their expectations.
Why do people switch from their existing provider?
Contrary to popular belief, often it has nothing to do with their existing provider doing a bad job – but instead is predominantly down to the fact that a lot of IT providers don’t bother with establishing a relationship at all. Sometimes it’s down to laziness. But the most common reason is that business owners think ‘it’s too much trouble to swap’ – they are gravely mistaken.
No excuse is good enough to stay with an unsatisfactory support provider. Let’s explore some of the reasons business owners choose to search for a new, capable, IT partner.
Lack of communication
As we said, a lack of communication – or the complete nonexistence of it altogether – is the most common reason why business owners decide to switch to a new IT support partner. It is fair to say that most tech-minded individuals are inherently poor at communicating on a personal level – that doesn’t take away from the outstanding job they do at finding fixes and implementing new tech within your business, but, unfortunately, just implementing it isn’t enough. They should be communicating properly with you and guiding your team through how to use their tech effectively and safely too.
This leads to a lack of two-way understanding; your expectations will not be met and you will fail to comprehend the actions being taken (or not) by the IT provider, and the provider will be failing you through lack of communication when they have not adequately explained the situation or the remedy.
Lack of forethought
A lot of IT providers have a tendency to continue supporting your past needs and demands – but do not even think about your future requirements. Of course, the business’ hardware, software, and IT services are the immediate concern to every business, but this shouldn’t affect the future.
Lack of industry knowledge
Providers are always pushing tech – how new it is, what it can do, and how cheap it is – but they rarely apply that technology to industry-specific settings. It should be a minimum requirement for your IT provider to give you a personalised service by tailoring services and applications to the workflow requirements of your specific business and industry. Disregarding these needs leads to an uncomplimentary relationship between you – the client – and your technology.
Insurance policy style support
A lot of IT providers will deliver as little support as possible. Instead of being proactive and seeking out potential problems and opportunities with proactive maintenance and management, they merely react to an issue once it has already become apparent – doing this alone will likely mean that they are not meeting their promises of ‘taking ownership of your business IT landscape’.
Now that you know what makes a poor IT provider, we will go into detail about what you should be expecting from an IT provider.
Let’s take a look at what your IT provider should be doing for you.
What your provider should be doing
As much as we spent the earlier part of this article listing the negatives of the majority of IT providers, there are the select few out there that possess the necessary skills, core competencies, and service values that you not only require but deserve for your money. It can be a real challenge to find the right provider for you, and is made even more difficult to identify with them all claiming to offer a standard of service that trumps the competition.
Here are the key features to look out for in your current, or any new prospective, IT support partner to ensure you get what your organisation is going to need to excel and develop with IT as the powerful ally it should be.
You need to be clear on the way that your support is structured, and know how they rate the issues you present them with. The structure of the Helpdesk (or Service Desk) can make all the difference to the speed and quality of service you receive day-to-day. Providers will usually operate in one of two ways. Most will answer calls, which will simply log a ticket for you and note some of the details, then going further they may – depending on the individual’s technical prowess and experience – begin to triage your issue. Some other providers man their phones with technicians who can immediately begin a triage and, in some cases, suggest a solution to your problem there and then.
Good providers identify the severity and nature of the problem you present them with, then, once having done that, they instruct the technical team to act accordingly. A lot of good providers structure the triage on a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line of support basis, allowing your issue to be assigned to an appropriately skilled engineer who immediately knows the severity and urgency of your issue, in turn enabling them to start an effective fix.
A provider that lacks structure in the handling of new service requests – and therefore fails to triage cases properly – will likely cause you to suffer delays. A much better system is for a properly triaged case to be issued directly to an appropriately experienced technician.
We all know how important it is to get to know the people that we are working with, so the first thing to do is to find out your point of contact and who will be managing the relationship between companies. You need to know whether you will get on with them, and whether you see a beneficial relationship forming, because having an interpersonal relationship with your point of contact needs to be a priority. It can be the difference between a relationship that works and one that doesn’t.
Good IT providers report as much as possible back to you. There should be some sort of asset management to help with road mapping, and they should report on their hours and the level of support that they are providing your team. The information in these reports is invaluable, because it will allow you to evaluate the service level and relationship with your provider, as well as ‘handing you the keys’ to your IT systems, and thereby giving you the ability to plan for the future.
A good IT provider will be in contact with you constantly. This communication should let you know who can escalate your issue, and who will look at the best methods of initiating future plans for the business. But, most vitally, it will show you how their support team will keep you updated on any service requests.
A good provider will have effective account management skills and the good communication skills to match – they will take total control of your IT landscape. That is not just in regard to issue remedying, but also reviewing and considering any new strategically aligned technology and forward thinking that will be beneficial to the growth and development of your organisation.
Your provider should be as familiar with your sector as you are. Every business is affected by GDPR (a body of legislation for data protection) but many other industry compliance and regulatory obligations also exist that could possibly have an impact on how you use your IT.
Obviously, a computer is a computer regardless of the sector in which your business resides. But, having an IT partner that has industry knowledge will give you an edge over your competition – with the ability to resolve issues fast, they should know your particular business applications that you choose to use, while also possessing a foundation of knowledge that will better enable them to anticipate and forecast your IT needs as your business evolves.
These are some of the many ways that your IT partner should be covering all bases when it comes to not just IT support but development too. Going through this list will give you a good standing to feel supported and confident that your IT future is bright.
Modern technology to help you thrive securely
Technology is pivotal to your business and we want you to understand the value it provides when it is allowed to work seamlessly with your operations on the most updated tools available. Apogee values transparency and simplicity – we provide the IT support you need. Within this support is the guarantee that your technology is secure against all manner of cyber threats, that it is operationally beneficial to the way you run your business and is always updated to the latest version. We will work alongside you and guide you into a secure, brighter future with technology as your ally. Contact us now to find out how we can help you.