Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, supporting growth and innovation. Turning back the clock, technology has always been a major driver of growth for small businesses even long before the dotcom bubble.
It would be downright impossible to run a successful business in the modern environment without some aspect of IT. Recognizing the need, many small businesses have made significant strides to incorporate IT systems into their daily operations. The problem, however, comes when these systems break down. The impact could be immeasurable, leading to catastrophic losses in potential revenue, customer dissatisfaction, reputational damage, or worse.
That’s where business IT support companies like Shipshape IT come in. In one short phrase, DC IT support specialists help resolve technical issues. In this post, we’ll break down the elements of IT support and their intricate connection to small businesses.
- IT support providers juggle a wide array of IT needs for small businesses. These may include on-site and off-site hardware and software installation, system administration, networking, and customer help desk support.
- While IT may appear “invisible” to management, choosing the right IT support partner brings palpable benefits in stability and reliability as the business grows.
- IT support for small businesses plays out to a broader growth strategy. Severed communication, misaligned business IT priorities, and cyber insecurity threaten the very existence of small businesses. IT support specialists possess a well-rounded background in dealing with these very issues.
Understanding IT Support Basics
IT support entails any technical assistance that is offered to businesses by a third party. When hardware and equipment failure disrupts business operations, you can count on your IT support provider to find and implement rapid solutions in response. How they do this could vary, based on their internal processes and policies.
Reactive IT support providers, for instance, find and fix issues after they happen. The problem with this approach is the damage that will have been inflicted on the business before the issue is resolved. Proactive IT support providers, on the other hand, are becoming the popular choice. A proactive IT support provider monitors your network and vital systems 24/7, resolving issues quickly and averting the consequences.
Companies without an outsourced IT partner or in-house team often rely on technically-savvy staff for their IT needs – big mistake. A dedicated IT support firm brings the tools and skills your business needs to take control of technology, leaving your staff to focus on the duties that they were hired for. All this can be offered for a fixed monthly fee, so no hidden costs surface on your monthly bill.
Why IT Support Matters for Small Businesses
IT support serves as the guiding force for small businesses looking to navigate the ever-evolving world of technology. Anticipating challenges before they turn into crises alone is not enough to run uninterrupted operations. Businesses need IT support specialists to assess their needs and deliver impactful solutions that align with the company’s goals.
IT support matters for small businesses in the following ways:
- Efficient system implementation and management – A majority of small businesses today have technology running essential services and operations. Every activity, as integrated as supply chain management, or as easy as sending an email is aided by your IT infrastructure. It is the IT support provider’s duty to ensure that these critical systems do not fail when you need them the most.
- Safer, more reliable tech solutions – Networks, hardware, and software is, unfortunately, no good if it’s always vulnerable to breach. Ransomware attacks have been on the rise lately, with the average cost of a ransomware incident being $4.54 million. IT support providers help unmask ransomware attacks before or in their development, preventing serious breaches from inflicting heavy damage on the business.
- Comprehensive IT needs assessment – IT should be considered an investment, rather than an expense. Knowing exactly what your business needs to survive, what it needs to gain a competitive edge, and what it needs to run efficiently paints a crystal picture of your future technology investment. An IT support provider can help prep your business for future expansion with more powerful servers, secure networks, and flexible and scalable applications.
- Employee and customer support – Issues are bound to surface whenever your employees and customers use your IT infrastructure. Lower-level issues can be channeled to your internal IT team, while higher-level IT issues threatening critical operations can be delegated to a more equipped and experienced external IT support team.
Lastly, IT support can reduce working hours lost in resolving technical issues. With an IT support specialist on speed dial, your internal staff doesn’t have to resolve issues on their own. Whatever the issue might be, your IT support provider will diagnose and repair hardware and software and get operations back on track quickly.
Assessing Your Business’ IT Needs
Every purchase decision, and every investment choice made in your business IT strategy must always be backed by a sound needs assessment. Resource-constrained small businesses often don’t have big budgets to spend on new equipment when the old ones work just fine.
For small business managers struggling to justify new tech investments, backing every purchase decision starts with a careful assessment of the existing gaps across the organization.
Start with an employee assessment. As it turns out, employees and consumers are on the receiving end of your IT system’s issues. They possess first-hand experience with the issues existing within your IT infrastructure. Customer feedback can be channeled to your IT department through instant communication applications, your business website, customer service channels, and social media.
Next, take an inventory of your existing infrastructure. Is it powerful enough to meet your growing needs? Compile a comprehensive list of the technology and services your business currently uses. Take note of the hardware and software assets in the company, including any cloud-based assets. Also, document the number of users who need access to the technology as your business grows
If this sounds tedious and time-consuming – which it is – an IT support provider can scout for hidden gaps within your existing IT systems and recommend alternatives that fill in these gaps.
Exploring Different IT Support Options
There are two fundamental options when it comes to IT support; in-house IT support and outsourced IT support. Outsourced IT support involves hiring an external IT provider to manage your IT systems and provide technical assistance for a fee. Usually, outsourced IT support is part of a broader managed service provider (or MSP) experience.
In-house support is when you hire an internal IT professional to handle all of your IT needs. Both in-house and outsourced IT support have distinct pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh your options carefully. Outsourced IT support is a great way to get access to experienced professionals without having to hire and manage an in-house team.
However, it can be expensive if you’re billed hourly. In-house IT support grants direct control and oversight of your IT team, but hiring, maintaining, and managing an in-house IT team can be expensive and challenging. Besides, in-house teams may not have the technical skills and experience to resolve top-level issues as fast or efficiently as an outsourced IT service provider. Regardless, always examine your budget to find the right IT support for your business.
Choosing the Right IT Support
Before closing in on your ideal IT support provider, consider the size and scope of your business, your budget, and the level of technical expertise needed. If your business is small and just starting out, you may want to hire an IT support provider that offers more basic services, such as hardware and software installation, troubleshooting, and system maintenance.
Larger and more complex businesses have more complex needs. Look for a provider that can offer more advanced services, such as cloud computing and data protection.
When selecting an IT support provider, take the time to compare their offerings and pricing. Be sure to read the fine print when it comes to contracts and agreements. Look for providers that offer options for upgrades and expansions, as well as flexible plans that can accommodate your business’s growth.
It is also important to have a well-defined process for IT support requests. This should include detailed instructions on how to submit a request, as well as a set of criteria to prioritize requests, such as urgency, impact, and complexity. A ticketing system fulfills this purpose, ensuring that all requests are addressed quickly and efficiently, and that nothing falls through the cracks.
The importance of IT support cannot be overstated. For any growing business, the choice of a good IT support varies slightly based on the needs. And choosing the right IT support can ensure your business’s operations run smoothly and efficiently.
How Much Does IT Support Cost?
The average cost of IT support varies depending on the provider. For small businesses, the cost of IT support could range between $50 to $150 per month per user. For some businesses, it comes at 27% of the business’s revenue.
What are the Most Common IT Support Problems?
Some common IT support problems include unresponsive programs (caused by an outdated application), unresponsive programs, corrupt or missing backup files, slow internet, software and hardware installation issues..
What Type of Support Do I Need for My Business?
The type of support for any business depends on its IT needs. In-house IT support grants you more control over your IT strategy. Outsourced IT support ensures maximum productivity as your business’ IT needs are fully addressed.
How Do I Know if I Have the Right IT Support?
Check whether your IT support provider can scale up as your business grows. IT Support should be personalized in such a manner as to fulfill the needs of your business. It should be effective and accessible, to reduce downtime and outage.
How Often Should I Check in with My IT Support Provider?
The frequency of checking in with an IT support provider solely depends on the business’ specific needs and the service level agreement in place. However, it is always good practice to check in with them at least once a month.