This Is What Great IT Support Looks Like
Before the coronavirus pandemic, companies contemplating the merits of working with an outsourced IT support provider were uncertain about the security and privacy of cloud computing.
The majority of companies that tested the waters only dipped their toes in but didn’t wade in beyond ankle height.
IBM reported companies that have opted for cloud solutions generally only migrate around 20% of their data. The predominant trend has been to establish an on-premises-cloud hybrid model.
A report published by Deloitte indicates that the trend is unlikely to change over the next year despite the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic. Work from home solutions could become the “new normal”.
The reality for companies of all sizes is a need to establish a working model that enables remote working policies to run smoothly. In addition, cybersecurity protocols need tightening to ensure your business network is effectively protected against the threat of cybercrime.
Experts of industry predict managed IT services provide the best solution. Investors have forecast the managed services market to grow by 12.2% in the next six years.
It stands to reason that moving forward, businesses will lean on the expertise of experienced IT consultants more than ever. The Internet of Things (IoT) is on the brink of exploding, Big Data is a valuable asset and technology is responsible for powering sales, customer support, marketing, accounting, productions and manufacturing.
In short, today’s organisations rely on technology so you need technology that is reliable. Moreover, you need an IT support team you can trust to ensure your business remains operational, competitive, scalable and secure.
In-House IT Team v Outsourced IT Support
When C-level executives think of an IT support team, the ideal solution is to have in-house experts that understand your business, are immediately available and resolve issues swiftly.
With an in-house team, you have more control over your data, response times are prompt, the quality of work is high and problems are corrected quickly.
At least that is the dream. The reality is often very different.
There are few IT professionals with the expertise to handle the broad range of issues that typically arise in any one enterprise. In-house personnel are often tied up trying to remedy complex problems they have little knowledge about and are not available to fix minor issues quickly.
When an IT professional says, “have you tried turning it off and on again,” they’re basically saying, “I’m too busy to fix that right now, do it yourself.” Placing a bandaid on IT issues is rarely a long-term solution.
The average company needs at least three to five IT professionals. To build an IT support team in London that has the knowledge, expertise and the time to respond quickly and effectively will cost upwards of £150,00 -£250,000+ a year.
Even a small firm will need a least one experienced IT professional and they demand £60-70,000+ per annum and are not likely to have all the skills, experience or alignment with Business goals they need.
When it comes to your computer system, there is no room for compromising quality and expertise. Unless you fill the right roles with the right individuals, you will probably not get value for money.
The shortage of talent in the IT industry is a growing concern for the UK economy.
“All in all, an approximate tally of 600,000 computing vacancies combined with the general lack of technical qualifications and experience could cost the UK up to £63 billion a year in lost productivity, experts calculate.” ~ Entrepreneur Handbook
Technology is changing at a rapid pace. Another burgeoning expense is the ongoing training and educational development on-site IT engineers need to fulfil their role successfully.
Whilst adding at least one IT professional to your team can be beneficial, building an entire team is not a cost-effective solution for most UK businesses.
Outsourcing IT Support
Partnering with a managed IT Support and Service provider gives you access to experienced IT professionals whilst eliminating the heavy costs associated with building an in-house team of IT Support Engineers and Senior Technical Staff.
It is often the case that outsourcing IT support results in faster response times and quicker resolutions which ultimately results in less downtime. This is because they DO NOT want to lose your business, and adhere to strict service level agreements and other KPI’s. The time it takes to resolve IT issues plays a crucial role in the productivity output of your operations, and you businesses will not tolerate tardy performance.
An experienced and reliable IT solutions provider will have advanced IT Support technologies, sufficient resources and the expertise to ensure your computer system is operating at optimal performance and aligned with your Business goals and strategy for the vast majority of the time.
Outsourcing IT support and having someone else manage your IT Services gives you access to 24/7 IT support and monitoring, and an array of IT services that can identify potential issues before they become a problem. Moreover, all the costs of this hardware and expertise are covered by the IT support company. You only pay for the services you receive.
Enterprises that are looking to scale quickly can leverage an outsourced IT services company to support your growth strategy. They will have experience with other high growth businesses, know what works best and the pitfalls to avoid. Managed IT support is far more cost-effective, far more valuable thanks to the Business experience of the provider and frees up revenue to invest in other areas of your business.
IT support companies also have the technologies and the know-how to reduce the risk of a data breach. With cybercrime, a growing concern for businesses of all sizes, using the expertise of IT professionals adds an extra layer of protection to your IT infrastructure.
The main concerns when partnering with IT consultants is how much control you have over your data and the level of flexibility you will have over your IT infrastructure.
Clearly, an element of trust is involved. The level of service offered by IT solutions companies can also be called into question. Unfortunately, providers that are not on top of their game leave a grey cloud (pardon the pun) over companies that do offer great IT support. Look for a provider who provides detail reporting of activities, uses accountability software with their team (such as time-tracking) and has checks and measures in place to assure great service.
When you’re searching for a reliable managed service provider, look out for any red flags. Knowing what to look for in an outsourced IT support team and which companies to avoid is highly advisable.
Benefits of Outsourcing IT Support
- Significant cost-saving vs an in-house team
- Advanced technology to manage systems at scale
- 24/7 support and monitoring of your infrastructure
- Enhance productivity, benefit from their experience with other clients.
- Faster response times and with Strict Service Level Agreements.
- IT Expertise and Business Experience
- Innovative infrastructure
- Proactive monitoring and technology reviews
- Data compliance support and being able to act as ‘gate keepers’
- Enhance Cybersecurity with a suite of software and process
- Predictable billing without the HR headache!
Great IT Solutions Providers Build A Personal Relationship
The level of customer service should be your first priority when partnering with an outsourcing IT company. A remote IT team must be prepared to understand your business needs and enable you to achieve your business goals.
Building a rapport with an outsourced IT Support Team takes time, but firms that provide a personal service geared towards your needs is a key factor in building trust.
The digital age has spawned faceless companies. Unless you get to know the cloud company that is handling your data and managing your IT infrastructure, sharing your data with strangers can be unsettling.
During the enquiry process, quiz potential partners about how responsive they are, how many clients they have and how long they have worked for them. Contact their clients and get references to enquire about the level of service they receive.
You want to be assured that an outsourced IT support company has a genuine concern about the success of your business. Larger companies tend to be less attentive and do not provide personalised services.
You will know whether you are working with a great IT support team if they:
- Take time to learn about your business, really listening to your concerns, wants and need, reviewing your existing IT infrastructure and providing easily understood solutions that meet your requirements
- Have a clear understanding of your business needs and the goals you wish to achieve
- Return your calls promptly
- Are quick to respond to critical issues
- Resolve IT issues swiftly
- Deliver bespoke solutions for long-term growth
- Follow up to check resolution is working okay
Of course, the reverse is true. If you’re working with an IT support company that does not deliver the bullets above, look for another IT outsourcing company that delivers the service you deserve.
When measuring the responsiveness of an IT service provider, it’s important to recognise that not all technology-related issues will be resolved swiftly. You should expect them to respond to your call promptly, but resolving critical solutions may not always be a quick fix.
Complex issues will naturally take longer to find a solution. Creative IT engineers may identify a short-term solution whilst the bigger issue is resolved if it is available.
When choosing an IT support company, it’s important to distinguish between “a friendly bunch” and a team that actually care about the success of your company.
Anyone can appear friendly when they are canvassing clients. Being friendly doesn’t always accumulate to being reliable and delivering a personal service.
Reputable IT outsourcing companies offer a 60-90 day opt-out clause if you are not satisfied with the level of service. This clause guarantees high-quality IT solutions. If you are not offered a get-out clause or are locked into long contracts, take it as a red flag.
When an outsourced IT support company wants to bind you to a long-term retainer contract of say 36 months, there is no incentive for them to offer an ongoing personal service because their invoices are guaranteed for the term of the contract, even if the relationship is mediocre at best..
Your IT Support Consultant Should Accept Accountability
A good reason to build a personal relationship with your outsourced IT consultants is to ensure they are accountable for the service they provide.
For example, to satisfy GDPR compliance, you want to be assured you’re company has done everything in its power to ensure data privacy and data security is protected.
An IT solution company that will not accept responsibility for a data breach they should have prevented, does not have your best interests at heart.
When you outsource components of your technology to a managed service provider you should not be held accountable by the authorities if something that is not in your control goes wrong.
Due diligence is required to ensure your outsourced IT provider keep abreast of regulatory compliance updates, invests in the latest technologies, and keep you informed about developments that could impact your business.
Before signing a contract with an IT support provider, insist on a strategic roadmap that provides sufficient levels of technical support over the long-term and check that it aligns with your business goals and anticipated growth.
You always need to work inside your budget and the goal of a good IT partner is to provide value for the funds you have available. Look for long-term benefits in the initial proposal and avoid outsourcing companies that suggest short-term bandaids.
Proactive IT Support Solutions
Preventing IT issues is a far better solution than curing problems when they arise. At the very least, you should expect an IT support company to take an interest in your existing technology and review whether it meets the demands of your business.
With the fast pace at which business technologies are advancing, the end date of legacy hardware and software can creep up on you. For example, Microsoft will no longer support Windows 10 from 2025. What does this mean for your business?
IT support services should regularly perform preventative maintenance on servers, networks, workstations and business-critical applications. Look for companies that offer 24/7 monitoring and takes action to prevent potentially disruptive problems.
During the enquiry stage, ask how much time your IT support team will dedicate to working on proactive tasks and what measures are put in place to prevent issues from arising.
Server network diagnostics is generally a standard service for proactive monitoring of your IT infrastructure. Other key services to look out for are anti-virus, patch management, cloud backup data recovery and disaster recovery.
IT Support Teams Need Relevant Skills and Experience
In 2013, Microsoft produced a report detailing how “involuntary IT managers” were appointed the responsibility of managing and the IT infrastructure of numerous small businesses.
IT generalists were risky in 2013. In 2021, the IT environment is far too complex to adopt a “do-it-yourself” approach. The average IT infrastructure comprising of mobile devices, desktops, servers, networks, software, cloud computing, virtualisation and the demands of cybersecurity.
For a DIY IT guy, today’s business systems are overwhelming.
Even a trained IT professional struggles to understand all the facets of a modern IT infrastructure in its entirety. This is why you need to hire a team of IT experts that specialise in different disciplines.
When you also consider the rapid adoption of IoT, cloud, and Big Data analytics as a major part of their digital transformation strategy, IT experts need to know how to manage the increasing burden on data centres.
Managed services give you access to a team of experienced IT professionals that have a wealth of expertise in multiple disciplines. And at less cost than a single in-house engineer and certainly far less than even a small IT team.
What’s more, an outsourcing IT company should have trained engineers that are up-to-date with the latest technologies and the width and breadth of knowledge required to effectively manage new products and services.
Great IT support essentially fills the technical gap that is not guaranteed with an in-house team – unless you are prepared to pay the wages experienced specialists demand and the training fees to maintain their ongoing education.
Cybersecurity is a top priority for businesses of all sizes. With malicious actors adopting increasingly sophisticated technologies and techniques, the number of IT security risks has multiplied in recent years.
There is a misconception that SMEs are immune to hackers. On the contrary, there are around 65,000 attempted cyber attacks on UK businesses every day – about 4,500 of which are successful.
The value of additional layers of cybersecurity cannot be underestimated – especially when you consider the severe penalties aimed at businesses that suffer a data breach.
In accordance with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), firms face fines of between 2 to 4% of their annual global income or up to £17.5m. Over 200,000 companies were penalised in the first year.
A reliable IT support service provides an extra layer of protection. Not only do they give you access to sophisticated technologies, 24/7 monitoring and scheduled reporting, they also act as your personal firewall.
During your due diligence, ask potential IT consultants how they handle your sensitive data to determine how competent they are. The best companies use encryption software, help you plan a data protection policy and train your staff on how to identify threats.
IT Support Company in London
IT support outsourcing is a viable and cost-effective means of growing your business. However, your potential to scale largely depends on your ability to adapt to emerging technologies and compliance regulations.
With knowledgeable IT consultants on hand to implement effective solutions and experienced engineers to handle complex network issues, you should expect to experience more agility, uptime and productivity.
Great IT support provides you with the tools and the platform to reach your objectives. Partner with a reputable firm you can trust has your best interests at heart.
Be wary of IT support companies in London that claim to offer support for your entire IT infrastructure. No matter who you partner with, you only receive the services you pay for. So make sure you know what services you need and which solutions you have access to.
It is not uncommon for companies to partner with an outsourced IT company under the illusion they are fully covered only to be charged additional fees to access a service that is not in your contract.
Do not sign on with an IT support provider that is not transparent about the services they will provide for the budget you have at your disposal. If you are clear from the outset, you will avoid conflict further down the line.
MicroPro is an experienced IT support company based in London. We also have offices in Kent, Surrey and Glasgow which is a testament to our support network and the level of trust we have earned from our clients.
We are also a certified partner of Microsoft and offer an all-in-one solution to help your business navigate common problems experienced by remote teams and give you the platform to capitalise on new opportunities.
For more information about what our experienced IT professionals can offer and the range of solutions we provide, contact a member of our friendly and knowledgeable IT support team. We will do our best to accommodate your business needs for the budget you have available.