If you are responsible for information technology in a small to medium-sized business with between ten and 150 employees, read on to discover why your company might want to consider changing its IT support arrangements. We also offer some advice about the points to check before making a decision, as well as useful tips to ease the transition.
Supporting Business Growth
For some managers and decision makers, the idea of changing an IT support contract may seem daunting at first. Nonetheless, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) can often gain by keeping their requirements and current provision under review.
By making the best decision for its future computing, a company can transition to a well-specified and finely tuned business information system that boosts efficiency and fosters organic growth. Additionally, the right IT outsourcing supplier will smooth the changeover, thanks to business awareness and expert technical skills.
Identifying the Need For Change
Businesses change their managed IT support for various reasons. Recently, the CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association), a non-profit organisation based in Illinois, USA, surveyed leading companies to investigate why. It found that the main reasons for leaving IT providers were:
- Cost. In today’s marketplace, companies seek competitive pricing and quality of service. In contrast, unjustifiable costs tend to sound alarm bells.
- Lack of expertise. SMEs need to avoid recurrent downtime problems, problematic security glitches and the crippling effects of data loss.
- Communication problems. Lengthy response times, failure to return calls and unanswered messages are unacceptable. Poor service or a perception of not being on the same wavelength are worrying signs, while other difficulties include a lack of clear, concise and timely information.
- Proficiency. Problems include failure to deliver innovative solutions to meet business change (such as organic growth or expanding product ranges) or to resolve problems as quickly as possible.
- Difficulty working with the supplier. Business relationships are seldom perfect, but if the red flags have been anything other than occasional, it is probably time to consider matters carefully. Problems should be an exception, not a rule.
- Recurring downtime. Business variables beyond service providers’ control mean that 100 per cent availability may not be feasible. However, if the supplier cannot keep the business system up and running reliably or there are other regular serious issues, it might also be time for a change.
- Innovation – or lack of it. An IT support company should be able to see the potential for business technology, especially within its area of expertise. Suppliers ought to know about the latest business solutions and recommend them when appropriate – especially if new developments will decrease your costs and increase your revenue. Moving to cloud computing instead of maintaining an onsite server farm might be one example.
If you are dissatisfied with your IT support provider or recognise any of the above tell-tale signs, a review is probably worthwhile.
Switching and Starting With Your New Supplier
Businesses that move to new IT support companies should consider their previous experience(s) and take the opportunity to capitalise on the change. Firstly, check existing service level agreements and determine whether the previous provision was adequate. Did the service keep up with business change and were any extra features necessary? Alternatively, the reverse could be true: were any existing features redundant or in clear need of an update?
Collect feedback from across your company and collate the information into a tender document. As well as hardware and software inventories, key details include network diagrams, usernames, login addresses and permissions or levels of access. A support log helps to identify recurrent issues and could assist in proposing and developing long-term solutions.
It might prove useful to approach the existing supplier and ask whether they would be prepared to work with staff from the incoming support organisation. Agreeing an incentive or extra fees may be necessary. In any case, your new company should work hard to ensure a smooth handover, minimise short-term disruption and set the foundations for a brighter future.
When implementing a change of supplier, do check to what extent the support operation is enmeshed with your company’s business system. If your current provider also manages your network, some of your company data may be on servers that the supplier owns. In the interests of data security and to help achieve a smooth transition to the new supplier, the data needs to be moved to your own company’s resources – and backed up. A new support operation should review and monitor such arrangements to ensure a smooth migration and secure day-to-day operation of your business IT.
Additionally, suppliers could well have a high level of access to systems, including administrator privileges. Although unlikely and unethical, unscrupulous individuals might be able to change vital network, data or program settings. Accordingly, to counter such threats to your business information security, it is advisable to review who can log on to your IT systems and what level of access each account has – whether a user, power user or an administrator. Well-known security measures and precautions apply; in particular, it is important to back up data, change passwords regularly and review special directory permissions when there are changes of personnel.
Supporting SMEs throughout the UK
Onestop IT Solutions is a leading information technology supplier. With a firm focus on caring for customers and delivering process-driven IT solutions to growing organisations, Onestop specialises in IT outsourcing, managed IT support, strategy and compliance. Based in Edinburgh, its friendly and professional team of experts helps SMEs across the UK gain access to enterprise technology solutions and best practices at an affordable price.
If the issues raised in this article have resonated with you, or if you would like to discuss the IT support service that Onestop offers when working with companies, please click here for further details. We will be delighted to assist.