Tips for recruiting IT support in your business
by Keris Lahiff
How much does your business rely on technology? For a lot of small businesses – especially for those with time-poor owners – technology plays a vital role and encompasses many of the different roles within the workplace.
“Your HR, accounting, payroll, procurement, sales order processes and so on are all run on the computer, not to mention your client database. And if you run an actual online business, it would be a disaster if something happened,” says Danielle Watts, Intel’s small business marketing manager and Switzer’s technology expert.
The importance of reliable help
To crisis-proof your business, investing in reliable IT support is a must-do.
“Investing in an IT advisor is critical given that 90 per cent of the work we do these days is computer-based,” says Watts.
What should you look for in an advisor? For one, dependability is a must – support should ease the strain, not cause further stress.
“Look for a trusted IT advisor,” says Watts, “somebody you feel confident in sharing your business practice with, somebody who offers you proactive advice when it comes to managing and securing your business.”
Types of support
IT support can be outsourced in a number of ways. Post sales support or monthly contracts with IT services, for example, help a small business manage their network, back up data, maintain protection against viruses and repair any issues, faults or failures should they occur.
When seeking external support, consider service levels, such as how and when support can be accessed. A 24-seven phone support line will be more useful than weekday-only services. Read the service level agreement (SLA), including the fine print, before signing up for any contracts – make sure you know what you are covered for, what they’ll be doing for your monthly fee and acceptable timeframes should disaster strike.
The alternative method is the break/fix model, where you enlist IT help as disaster strikes, though this can prove more costly as charges will be made hourly on top of the cost for new equipment – not to mention the likelihood of losing data if it has not been recently backed up.
Areas of support
Technology should assist your business as it grows. There are many areas in need of routine check-ups and updates.
Consider whether the IT support you enlist does the following:
- Data back-up – depending on your business, back-up might be required daily or even hourly. Also, look at what they offer in terms of sensitive data security and encryption services.
- Virus protection scans, including their action plan should a virus get through.
- Software updates and patches and, if so, how often and when. Any maintenance is preferable in the middle of the night so the network doesn’t slow down during your peak business hours.
- Assistance with hardware and software malfunctions, including remote management. This means that offsite technicians can access and ‘take over’ the PC, fixing it remotely.
- Regular reports on what they proactively did to ensure smooth operations and highlighting any potential issues to your networks that could cause future problems if untreated.
Given the amount of work conducted online and with the help of technology, investing in support for your network is invaluable. And, as your business grows and becomes more sophisticated, reliable support means the IT burden isn’t yours alone to carry, so you’re free to focus on your business’ strengths rather than being tangled in a web of wires.
Published on: Monday, October 11, 2010