Knowing When to Upgrade Your IT Support
27% of small business in the United States have no IT support, and an even greater percentage aren’t aware of what their current IT company (or person) provides. Most small businesses struggle with making a change to their IT support because sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t or the degree of friction appears too great, perhaps overwhelming. Let’s face it, a business simply cannot run without integrated technology in 2021. Technology is woven into almost every aspect of today’s business, from communications to marketing to collaboration to efficiency. This means most small businesses require a solid technology platform to remain competitive. Understanding the scope of IT services is key to making sure an IT Service Provider remains a trusted extension of the business, partnering with key representatives for operation, growth and protection. If you’re unsure if you have the right IT Service Provider, learn the right questions to ask to make certain your business is well positioned for the benefits and advantages technology can bring, not to mention the necessary compliance with state regulations. Just how does a small business figure out the true value of IT Support? Is it based on the number of (or lack of) issues, outages or perhaps cost? Is the least expensive the right choice or is dependability more important?
Many small businesses have no guidelines to help understand the effectiveness of their IT Support, leaving many in the dark and possibly accepting risks they are unaware of.
To begin, start by understanding the pricing, scope, contracts and Services Level Agreements / Objectives (SLA / SLO) of your current IT Support.
PRICING We all know the quote, “You don’t pay the plumber for banging on the pipes. You pay the plumber for knowing where to bang.” This speaks directly to the fact that you should not pay IT Support for their time, but rather their value. IT Support pricing should reflect the quality of service supplied and the level of ability assigned. Depending on the business, an inability to resolve an issue quickly may prove detrimental. It’s also important to understand the scope of services; A Helpdesk is quite different from comprehensive Managed IT Services. Understanding what you pay for and what you receive from your IT Support is essential toward positioning your business for success.
There are many sides to IT Support, from Helpdesk Services to comprehensive Managed IT. Understanding what is – and what is not – within the scope of your IT Support is key to understanding any exposure your business may have. For example, many IT Service Providers offer cybersecurity services, but this may or may not include authoring policy documents, meeting compliance with state regulated mandates for protecting client data or supplying phishing tests to employments several times a year. Don’t wait to learn if something is in scope because by the time you learn it is not, it may cost a lot more than imagined.
CONTRACTS A good IT Service provider will use a contract or Master Service Agreement (MSA) to set the bounds of the support relationship, set up protocols for carrying out the included commitments and to supply an efficient way to resolve any disputes that may arise during the engagement. An MSA protects both parties and is a key part toward understanding the value of IT Support. Avoid any restriction or longterm commitments that prevent your business from moving to someone else any time you want. After all, if an IT Service Provider stands behind their work, they don’t need to force your loyalty. It’s also just as important to know what is NOT included in your Tech Support contract. If you don’t have a contract with your current IT Service Provider, you run the risk of losing support when you need it most and the ability to hold your provider accountable.
SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENTS (SLAs) and SERVICE LEVEL OBJECTIVES (SLOS) Service Level Agreements and Service Level Objectives are rarely given sufficient attention when reviewing IT Support. This is a mistake because SLA & SLO terms are a critical part of understanding what to expect from an IT Service Provider. An SLA is an agreement to meet a specific goal. An SLO is an objective to meet the goal, subtle difference, but important. Both clarify expectations in measurable terms, keeps the IT Service provider accountable for delivering on their promises, and keeps focus on customer service.
The components of a good SLA are:
Service: The service the IT Support provides. For example, after-hours response time.
Measurement: A metric that quantifies the service commitment. Using the response time example, the amount of time you should expect a response from the provider, perhaps 2 hours or 20 minutes.
Penalty: If the IT Provider does not meet the agreed commitment, the penalty is spelled out and clear to all parties. Using the same example, if the IT Service Provider doesn’t respond to an after-hours issue within two hours, the penalty, for example, is a credit of a percentage of the contract fee returned.It’s important to know what to expect in terms of response time from your IT Support Provider, especially because each business has unique needs.
Choosing the right IT partner is a crucial part in the foundation of your business. If you are unsure of your just how effective your IT Support is, we can help? When well-planned, a transition is more straightforward than you may believe. Our team of experts are always available to consult with you and ensure the right choice for your unique business. Contact us.