How To Choose An IT Support Company
|What Is An IT Support Company?|
|Why Work With An IT Support Company?|
|What To Look For In A Good IT Support Company|
|How To Choose The IT Support Company That’s Best For Your Business|
|How TMB Can Help|
This is a guide for any UK SME thinking of investing in professional IT managed services. In the following pages, we will explain how you can choose an IT support company that is right for your company.
There are two sides to this question. The first is how to choose a good IT support company. The second is how to choose a good IT support company that is the best fit for your business. This friendly, simple English guide looks at how to tick both boxes and achieve a powerful IT partnership that will enhance your organisational efficiency, productivity and agility.
What Is An IT Support Company?
IT support companies evolved to help businesses manage the complex and ever-changing digital landscape. In an era when most organisations can be brought to their knees by a computer glitch, having a team who can keep things running smoothly can make a significant difference. Since having an in-house unit of fully trained experts is beyond the budget of most companies, IT support companies fulfil this role. In fact, these days, many in-house IT teams are also supported by an outsourced company for critical elements such as data protection.
However, IT support companies vary greatly. Some act like the fire brigade – invisible most of the time, but ready to swoop
into action in the case of a system malfunction. Some are much more hands-on and will do everything from installing your hardware and software to managing your cloud. Others are industry-specific and will have experts in rare applications. Some companies are specialists in cybersecurity, which is important for everyone but is particularly crucial in some industries, such as finance. Other organisations may have a particular talent for guiding a business through digital transformation or major change. There are plenty of options.
Whatever your need, the choice of partner is yours.
Why Work With An IT Support Company?
IT is central to the way that everybody does business. This means that organisations that get it wrong are at a serious disadvantage. This might be happening under the radar, such as by having less efficient and effective systems than competitors. Poor design means that information gets lost, inaccuracies creep in, and performance becomes sluggish. When systems are optimised, the result is speed, agility and competitive advantage.
Companies without support also experience lower productivity. Organisations are more efficient when employees are able to focus on the task at hand, rather than worrying about IT systems. Some companies go down the expensive route of hiring an in-house specialist, but for many businesses it is much more cost-effective to outsource some or all of the responsibilities to a specialist third party. This frees up time to focus on primary tasks, which translates to enhanced productivity.
Finally, inadequate IT support brings increased risk. When a system goes down, every minute costs money, with the total annual cost to the UK economy running into the billions. This problem is compounded by issues regarding cybercrime, to which all companies are vulnerable. When cyber-attacks occur, the issue is not just a financial one, it is also a legal one. Having systems in place to ensure that security is tight, compliance is complete and problems are dealt with rapidly is a core element of organisational risk management.
In short, without good IT support, organisations are vulnerable to a range of risks and failures.
What To Look For In A Good IT Support Company
There are several attributes that set great IT support companies apart from the crowd. With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, TMB has compiled the following list of the key things to look for.
Before getting lost in the catalogue of services, start with the company’s attitude. Without great IT, your business is at risk. This means that your IT support needs to be less of a service and more of a partner. This is only possible if you team up with specialists who care about your company and who demonstrate professional dedication – both to their own standards and to your business.
2. Reviews And Testimonials
Doing a thorough search for reviews and testimonials is always worth the effort. IT support companies are likely to publish a selection of glowing reviews in their marketing literature, but this may not be the whole story. Looking further afield may offer a more accurate picture. It also helps to ask other businesses in the local area for their experiences and recommendations. A media campaign shows that a company cares about its business, but word of mouth is a powerful authenticator.
Agility has never been more important than in today’s economy. Having the freedom to grow or go lean as required is an important survival tactic, and it’s one that an IT company needs to support. A good provider will not try to tie you into inflexible contracts or force you to make today’s decisions based on future dreams.
4. Personalised Choice
Being sold expensive bundles filled with unnecessary extras is often accepted as a normal part of using a service. However, good IT support companies will never attempt to offer you more than you really need. A broad portfolio of options with room for you to pick and choose gives you the control, with the IT company playing a supporting role.
5. Proactive Services
IT support companies have the choice to be reactive or proactive.
- Reactive companies will wait for a problem to begin to unfold before starting to respond. This often means that IT issues can become complex and challenging to solve, which may equate to higher fees.
- Proactive IT support companies have a different philosophy. Their agenda is to install the correct architecture to prevent problems from starting, and to have the systems in place to solve them rapidly if something unexpected occurs. Clients may pay a little more for this type of service, but compared to the spiralling downtime costs of a reactive approach, it can give an excellent return on investment.
6. Response Times
An excellent IT support company will have excellent guaranteed response times. Most companies will say that they offer this feature. However, always check the small print. A ‘guaranteed response time’ can sometimes mean the same as ‘we’ll answer your phone call’. IT support companies that mean business will have a comprehensive network of experts who can begin working to solve your problem in the shortest possible time.
Many support companies offer a hierarchy of SLAs for different systems based on their criticality, e.g. a four-hour, 24/7 response for a server failure, and a two-working-day response for an office printer. Choose the right level of service for your IT asset portfolio, with a response time that protects your business in the event of an IT problem.
7. 24/7 Care
Business-critical servers operate around the clock, and so should your IT service provider. Ask your prospective provider about the type of support that they offer out-of-hours, and whether it includes anything more than someone simply covering the phone to acknowledge your problem. A good IT support company will make sure that someone is always there, but a high-quality IT support company will be able to summon help at any hour of the night. Of course, not every business needs 24-hour support, but it is good to work with a company that offers the flexibility of a scalable service, should your needs change.
8. Regular Service Reviews
A managed IT support service should care about its service delivery standards. This illustrates a dedication to quality service. Look for an organisation that carries out regular service reviews, which operates with transparency, and which is building a portfolio of certifications and partnerships. By listening to clients, and embracing a commitment to continuous professional development, an IT service provider can offer you leading-edge support.
9. Regular Service Reviews
Most IT support companies aim to fix a problem the first time, but how well does your prospective partner live up to this goal? Feel free to ask questions about how many issues are fixed on the first visit, and how many are resolved remotely. Also, when parts are needed to carry out a repair, how well equipped are their engineers?
Look for a company that carries a stock of common parts to each callout as a starting point (ensuring your IT assets are covered), and verify how long you should expect to wait if they need to order parts in. The best companies will have established relationships with leading manufacturers and IT hardware suppliers to expedite rapid same-day or next-day delivery for critical parts.
How To Choose The IT Support Company That’s Best For Your Business
Whilst the attributes of good IT support companies are universal, it is also vital to focus on finding a team that is a good fit for your unique organisational needs. This enables the building of a practical and relevant partnership. TMB regularly meets clients who have accidently mismatched their first attempt at working with a support company. Here’s what we have learned.
It is likely that your IT support company will provide you with a variety of hands-on care. This may include installing and maintaining equipment, updating software, and carrying out on-site repairs. It therefore helps if you are both in a reasonably close geographical area. Close proximity also helps to build a strong bond between the IT support company and the client. This helps the company learn more about your business, your role in the community and your brand identity, enabling a more bespoke service to be provided.
Every industry has slightly different technological requirements. Tweaking your IT setup so that it is optimised for your supply chain and market can make a real difference to productivity. Working with an IT team who are experts at your software has a range of benefits. These include swifter fix times if something goes wrong, optimised system setups and advice about beneficial upgrades.
Perhaps more importantly, industry experience also means that your IT support service will have in-depth awareness about the types of threat that your network is likely to be facing. In the digital wild west, this enables a proactive and more successful approach to security.
Experience With Your Infrastructure
Tech experts tend to be able to find a fix for most issues. However, good IT support services normally nurture their expertise in particular areas. For instance, if you run Linux, it is a significant advantage to have an IT support team with at least one Linux specialist. The same is true for software, especially if it is niche. Anyone who offers a contract without asking for full details about your systems, servers and software is best avoided. An IT support service that goes out of its way to specialise is likely to offer a high-quality service.
Providing The Ratio Of Service That You Need
It can often seem like managed IT services are primed to swoop in and take over control of your network. For some companies, this is exactly the kind of headache-relieving, cost-effective outsourcing that they require. However, other organisations may prefer more co-operative interaction with their in-house IT team. The flexibility to adopt either approach is something that excellent IT support services will be able to offer. When choosing your future IT partner, look for one that can strike the perfect balance for your needs.
The Right Size To Manage Your Needs
When it comes to IT support companies, bigger does not always mean better. However, for a managed IT provider to be able to guarantee the highest quality, they need to have the physical capability to fulfil their role.
The ratio of experts to clients needs to be a fair one. Although there is no set rule, if your organisation requires high levels of advanced support, find an IT service that can guarantee the commitment. Always ask for evidence, and if in doubt, ask around. However, experienced IT support companies are likely to be transparent about their ability to deliver a solution.
Does My Company Meet Its Prerequisites?
Sometimes the best strategy is to look at the situation from the opposite angle. Rather than simply asking whether your potential IT support service is the right one for you, consider whether you are the right one for them. High-quality IT support companies are unlikely to be generalists. Their client portfolio may look varied, but there will be distinct patterns and trends that reveal their particular talents.
Can My IT Support Service Support My Long-Term Vision?
If your plan is to grow, diversify or change, it’s a good idea to find a managed IT company with the flexibility and stability to support you. As organisations evolve, undertaking major changes to IT architecture becomes increasingly challenging, so thinking ahead to the type of support you’re likely to need further down the line is a good strategy.
Even if your crystal ball is a bit foggy, having the support of a trusted partner can act as a valuable stabiliser on an uncertain road. As such, finding an IT support service that has the confidence and experience to work with you through change is invaluable.
Are They Really Listening?
This final point comes full circle back to ‘attitude’ – the first thing that you should be looking for in a high-quality IT support company. The right team for your organisation is the one that listens to your needs, takes them seriously and works with you to find a tailored solution.
This feature sets an excellent managed IT provider apart from one that is merely good. If they take an interest in your journey - and feel that they can offer you the support that you need - you can guarantee that the partnership will be a successful one.
How TMB Can Help
TMB has been providing support and guidance to organisations for over 30 years. Over this time, we have seen computer technology evolve in function, power and speed. Through working with companies both large and small, we have gathered a wealth of experience that can empower clients to make the choice that is right for them.
It’s About Listening
At TMB, the first thing that we do is sit down and listen. We we never make assumptions about what clients are going to want, so our ears are open.
It’s About Honesty And Transparency
Over the last 30 years, TMB has upheld an unwavering commitment to being honest with clients. Our philosophy is that lasting relationships are built on trust, and for TMB that means being clear about what we do, how we do it and what you can expect.
It’s About Delivering The Service That Clients Want
Technology evolves, and so does TMB. We listen to client feedback and carry out regular service reviews in order to provide an IT service that is difficult to beat. Whether it’s the type of service that’s needed or the way that it’s delivered, we strive to provide the highest standard of professional, relevant and value-enhancing support.
It’s About Sharing Knowledge
At TMB, we invest in training, development and technology so we can make a real difference to our clients. By ensuring our teams are highly trained, we can pass that knowledge on. This lets you focus on your primary business objectives in the knowledge that your systems and support are underpinned by cutting-edge thinking and design.
Find Out More
To find out more about our range of managed IT services, please click here to take a look through our website. You can also contact us directly by phone or email to discuss your requirements. We look forward to hearing from you!
We look forward to hearing from you!
Tel: 0333 016 5159