Is your IT support solution keeping pace with the growth of your business? It’s easy to figure out. Consider the following questions:
- Does your IT support company (or internal IT department) spend most of its time putting out fires instead of working proactively?
- Are you workstations or servers not receiving regular patches/security updates?
- Is technology acting as a bottleneck to any part of your day-to-day business operation?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, your business has likely outgrown (or is starting to outgrow) its chosen form of IT support. Now what? How do you shop around for a new solution to support your company’s digital needs?
First, we’d like to say congratulations! This is a normal problem that every growing and successful business will eventually face. Sure you have a problem, but it’s a good one to have! Not to mention a relatively easy one to solve! So let’s get started.
Step 1 – Get the big picture
To get where you’re going, first you need to figure out where to start. Get a baseline reading of the kind of support your company needs and go from there. This means doing an inventory of your current IT infrastructure. Catalogue every piece of hardware and software that your business needs in order to function, and you’ll be in a good place to get started.
You might be thinking, “I could never count all of that!” But don’t worry. Modern IT assessment software can automate the process and catalogue everything for you. Your best bet is to find a local IT support company to run the assessment and walk you through the results. At Sagiss, we offer these IT network assessments to small and midsize businesses at no charge.
If you prefer to do this inventory in-house, that is fine too. Regardless of your chosen approach, the most important thing is to get a complete picture of your network. If your assessment is incomplete, you may end up choosing a less-than-ideal IT support solution. That’s not a headache anyone wants.
Step 2 – Determine where your current solution falls short
Now that you have a complete picture of all the hardware and software running your IT network, it’s time for the next step. You need to determine where your current IT solution falls short in supporting that hardware and software. Check your support agreement with your current provider to see what they are contractually required to cover. Apply that to your list of hardware and software that requires support.
Does the provider cover all the items on your list? In terms of quality, do they cover some components of your network better than others? Of the items that are not supported (or not supported very well), which systems are absolutely critical to the success of your business?
In other words, you must determine how well your current support solution covers your current support requirements. With your IT infrastructure in one hand, and your support agreement in the other, you should be able to clearly see where your current support solution falls short.
If it is unclear, your next step is to speak directly with your support provider. Schedule a meeting and run through the list of systems that make up your infrastructure. A top-quality support organization will be able to tell you in simple terms, precisely what they support and how they do so, without technical jargon.
Step 3 – Assess what kind of support you need
Now that you’ve compared your current support assets against your current support requirements, you have a clear path forward. At this point you have a choice to make, based on how effectively your current solution addresses your needs.
If you’ve determined your current IT solution is fine and requires some tweaking on how the service is delivered, then you can probably stop reading now. Schedule a meeting with your support team and discuss your concerns. Ask if they can modify their approach to suit your needs and changing business requirements.
If they are unable or unwilling to adjust the level of support for your growing business needs, you may choose to supplement their efforts rather than replace them altogether. You might hire another firm that specializes in supporting systems where your general support provider falls short. Suppose for example that your current provider delivers excellent service desk support but falls short on installing regular security updates to your servers. You might partner with a cybersecurity firm to cover that part of your business while your current provider maintains the day-to-day support service desk.
This is what the support industry refers to as a “co-managed” IT solution. This may be an ideal setup for your business, or maybe not. For simplicity’s sake, many businesses will choose to partner with a single company that can cover all of their needs. This is a comprehensive managed IT support solution.
You simply need to decide whether your current provider needs a bit of help, a lot of help, or must be fired and replaced outright. The choice is yours.
Step 4 – Shop your options
If you’ve determined you need more help, then it’s time to start shopping around for alternatives. Perhaps you’re still torn about co-managing your environment versus finding a provider that will truly serve all your needs. That is okay, and this step will help narrow down that decision.
But how do you find a trustworthy provider?
We urge you to shop for IT support the same way you would choose a family doctor. Get a list of potential options, and then start asking trusted people in your industry for their recommendations. How well do those companies support their business IT needs? If your companies are similar, that IT support provider may be a good fit for your business as well.
At Sagiss, many of our clients found us via referrals from existing Sagiss clients. Others found us via our formal Client Referral Program. Ask your colleagues’ opinions and then do some independent research. Call a few firms and have them scope out a quote for the support you require. Pay careful attention to how these prospective firms listen to you and what kind of questions they ask about your operations, your growth plans, etc. A solid IT support provider will want to get an understanding of both your IT needs and your business goals.
Regardless if what type of support you eventually settle on, make sure you complete Step 1 thoroughly. If you don’t begin this process with a clear picture of the hardware and software you need to support, you’ll likely end up selecting the wrong solution. That misstep, coupled with the fact that most IT provider tie clients into multi-year contracts, means that buying the wrong type of IT support could ultimately cost you a lot more than the ‘sticker price.’