As the number of small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) needing quick IT resolutions has soared, the demand for outsourced IT support has grown rapidly. There are no surprises here, as outsourcing IT support comes with many great perks. Cost-effectiveness is a top one. It takes less time and money to call in trained professionals to deal with problems than it does to train your own experts.
If you already have an IT team in-house, a outsourced team can share some of their responsibilities. This gives you access to a fresh set of expertise while taking the load away from your team. It can also complement their skills.
But this can only happen if you get your outsourced IT right. Get it wrong, and you risk demoralising your current employees, playing way more than you need to, and issues getting late. If you’re considering a provider without the 9 features below, walk away.
1. Unlimited calls
Far too many IT support companies offer a contract that provides a limited number of calls. If you were expecting 24/7 support, you’ll have to schedule and budget for it. Otherwise this can lead to unexpected, expensive charges. Make sure you are aware of any restrictions on IT helpdesk access and all additional charges are clearly communicated ahead of time. You want your helpdesk access to feel like a natural extension of your team, so unlimited calls and availability are the only option you can afford.
2. Proactive monitoring
It’s critical that when issues come up, your IT support provider has the resources and the technology to provide an early warning on your critical IT services. They need to be able to tell you about any issues before they become a problem for you, and this means knowing about them before you do. This gives them the ability to diagnose the issue and resolve it.
3. Remote technology
Aligned with proactive monitoring, these are the perfect support tools that provide fast and efficient issue resolution. As the name suggests, this technology allows support providers to remote in to users’ devices, servers, switches and routers. They can fix issues quickly. The ability to get alerts of issues and quickly jump on the network and devices and resolve issues without delay is essential for any company that wants the fastest possible IT support provision.
4. Their own talent
Some providers don’t have the right levels of expertise, so difficult issues become long and drawn out. They ignore issues they can’t handle, try to suggest these are chargeable items and then outsource to someone who can fix them, or spend an eternity researching and bombarding the wider IT community with requests for help. So make sure they have in-house expertise at all levels.
5. Managed backups
It’s critical for every IT support company, to offer policies that secure business critical information. Whatever the eventuality, be it fire, water damage or theft, it’s vital your business can get up and running again quickly.
It’s beneficial to be working with a company who’re based near you. If someone needs to come in for support, education or installation, they can. This also helps with procuring hardware and software. Getting this locally can help you to avoid costly delivery charges and delays to your installation process. What you want to avoid is a PO Box in the company’s address. So if a provider says they're based in Central London but they’ve only got a PO Box here, ignore them.
As your company grows, you’ll need your IT support to be able to keep up with demand. If they don’t offer you that scalability, you may find yourself paying for solutions that can’t be provided for. Alternatively, you may find yourself downsizing and needing less support, only to find your provider won’t budge their prices. If this is the case, you better get out of there.
8. Communication with your internal team
If you’ve taken up an outsourced IT team to backup your internal one, or compliment its skills, make sure you make that clear. A lack of communication here could see your internal team feeling demoralised or resentful. They may think ‘What’s the point in us if you’re just going to outsource everything?’ Collaborate with them, and your outsourcing process will become better with their input.
Avoid an IT Disaster
We consider all of the above features to be vital when outsourcing IT support. Avoid just one of them, and it can make day-to-day business miserable. Use them, and enjoy the benefits of cost-saving and new expertise.
If you need any more advice on selecting an IT support company, we’d be happy to help you. Get in touch today.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published as 'Outsourced IT Support London - 6 Must Haves & Key Considerations' in November 2015. It was updated in September 2018.