Do you pay for IT support? Does your business regularly suffer downtime? Need help sorting out unreliable email or computers that just don't work? Been sold white-labeled products just because your IT support company gets a generous referral fee?
It that's your idea of IT support then let me tell you why I think you are wasting time and money.
There's no reason to pay for IT support
IT support is based around the premise of fixing problems when they occur and then charging for this. It should come as no surprise that most IT companies make more money through billable hours when disaster strikes than when your network is running smoothly.
In that sense, your objectives and those of your IT company are not aligned when it comes to taking care of your computer systems.
In 2012 there really is no reason to pay for IT support. Technology is at a stage where it just should not fail. Some IT companies make a lot of money adding complexity and then charging an arm and a leg to install and support it.
Ultimately it's the complexity that leads to downtime. Simplifying your systems and doing things the right way to start with will help you avoid this expense. If you're like most businesses, technology is your third largest expense after wages and rent. Make your IT budget work for you.
IT support is about maintenance and advice
These days, you should be paying your IT supplier for maintenance (yes, there is still a fee) and best-practice advice. You should be paying for their help to set up systems that are going to work and not let you down.
This means that instead of calling for help when things go wrong you, can call and get help to be even more productive. Find out how to get the most out of Outlook or Word, do more with your tablet computer (such as your iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note) and get to grips with the latest features of Windows 7.
Here's your best IT investment
In my opinion, the best IT investment any business can make is an IT audit to bring your systems out of the Dark Ages and into 2012. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What IT problems recur again and again and why haven't they been fixed?
- How old are your computers?
- What version of Windows are you on?
- What version of Microsoft Office are you using?
- Are your staff properly trained in the software they use everyday?
- Is your email reliable?
- Is your data backed up? Do you know how to access and check your backups?
- Are you managing shared documents effectively?
- Are you and your team able to work productively on the go?
- Are you making the most of technologies like cloud and mobile computing?
Discuss these points with your current IT provider. Make sure you're happy with the answers – and if not, shop around. There are lots of IT support companies out there and it's important to find one that's going to work with you and think proactively about your business.
Anyone selling you 'IT support' without considering these things is not being honest with you about what's really possible.
IT support is dead. Long live small business IT consultancy! Ok, it's not so catchy but it's going to make your working day a whole lot better.
- How to switch IT support companies
- What to ask when choosing a support company
- Find an IT supplier near you
Francesca Geens runs an IT consultancy called Digital Dragonfly, which specialises in one-person businesses. She is especially interested in productivity and the use of information technology to improve people's day-to-day business lives. She is setting up a new kind of IT company for small businesses to firmly challenge traditional notions of IT support. Are you ready to Be Nimble with your IT?