Managing and growing a small business throws up daily challenges, which can be both time consuming and can limit the growth potential of the business. It is all too easy to get sidetracked and waste time dealing with issues which are not making you money, but at the same time have to be addressed.
A vast majority of these problems in the modern world are IT related, and unfortunately not every small business can afford to hire their own IT specialists on staff. The solution to this problem is to employ a managed IT solution, but buyer beware. Not all providers deliver the same level of service, which is why we have put together this list of the most important questions to ask any managed IT Service Provider before you sign on the dotted line.
Do You Provide A 24 Hour Service As Part Of The Agreement?
Managed IT services tend to be like Insurance Policies, you don’t find out how valuable they are until something goes wrong. The last thing you need to happen is for your IT systems to go down on a Friday afternoon at 4.30pm only to discover that your managed IT service only provides coverage Mon-Fri 8-4. Always ensure that you are signing up for a 24/7 365 days a year service.
What Is The Maximum Response Time?
It’s all very well having a 24/7 availability, but if the response time is three days, then the availability is irrelevant. Check the fine print of any contract before signing it and ensure that you are satisfied with the maximum response time before you sign anything. Think of any IT problem as if it were a leaking pipe. The longer it is left untreated, the more damage it is likely to cause to your business.
Does The Company Provide On-Site Local Support?
Many managed IT services try to cut costs by operating a remote service. In theory, this is an excellent way to reduce costs, but what happens when there is a problem with hardware that cannot be fixed remotely? Although this might seem unlikely it is best to prepare for all eventualities and take this into consideration when searching for the best provider for your needs.
Does The Company Provide Data Redundancy?
The security and backup of company data is vital and is something that should never be taken for granted. Your data should be stored on at least two different formats in at least two different locations. The reason for this is relatively simple, let’s imagine that all of your data is stored on computers, and backed up on external devices all of which are located in your business premises. What happens if a fire breaks out overnight and destroys the property? The back-ups are useless because like the originals they will be destroyed in the fire. A managed IT solution should incorporate back out solutions daily using the cloud. As this data will be off-site, and properly secured, it will be safe and provide redundancy in the event of an emergency.
Employee Education and Support
Not everything about a managed IT solution relates to security or software faults or installations. Anytime an employee is struggling to get their system to behave or have a piece of software work as it should your managed IT support team should be able to quickly walk them through the process to get things working again. It support staff need to be capable of not only solving problems but also having the heart of a teacher so that they can eloquently explain how to resolve the problem to your staff.
By asking these five important but regularly overlooked questions, you will ensure that the Managed IT company you choose to service your small business will deliver when you need it most.