There’s no doubt if you’re a small business owner you’re aware of how crucial it is to protect all your IT platforms such as your website, and network- based tools.

Statistics show that new start- ups and small businesses, according to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report, are targeted in 58 percent of cyber attacks. But on the other hand, cashflow is limited and you just can’t afford the luxury of expert IT support.

Firstly, you just haven’t the funds to employ one full-time IT person and certainly not enough to get an expert team in. But you need some help to deal with your IT requirements such as securing your network, fixing a printer connection, and answering your questions about cloud storage. So even if you could afford a full-time IT expert, they won’t be qualified in every area to handle all your IT issues and technology needs.

For most small businesses, the answer is to outsource your IT support to an IT service provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP). Firstly, the benefit of hiring a support provider, gives you all the expertise for less than the price of one full time staff member. Secondly, it stops you having to deal with your cybersecurity and network connections. And therefore, frees up your time, energy, and money elsewhere in areas such as growing your business & employing the right staff.

Why outsource IT?

Bottom line is your time, energy and focus are needed elsewhere. You’re the expert in your business so your time is better spent on what you’re good at rather than IT. So, it makes sense to outsource to a IT company.

Afterall, you need your business to run smoothly because you rely on your IT for the day- to- day operations of your business. And IT are your tools of the trade. That’s to say you don’t want to lose out on business because your IT systems are all down or your website has crashed. Hiring the right IT support allows your business to run smoothly, with less technology issues. And choosing the IT support can help your business from the grassroots as they act like a partner rather than an employee.

In general IT providers have levels of service rather than a one size fits all to suit your budget. Or you can hire them for a one- off project or technology issue, say if your email is down.  So your clients don’t think you’ve abandoned them.

If you decide on a hiring them for a project you either pay at an hourly rate or a one-time payment. You would, usually assume all risk if the project takes longer than expected, or the solution isn’t sufficient because you are in this case, the general contractor.

Whereas outsourcing your IT to a service provider on a level of service means whenever you require advice or service, you have a team in place that services your IT needs. And without the need of employing a full-time team.

What do you get?

Getting onboard with an IT support provider allows you to scale your services either up or down depending on your needs. These services can include application, network, system, and e-management services. In addition to web hosting and internet access as well because most IT support providers supplement their own services with those from other providers.

So if you’re seriously considering an IT provider, look for one that offers  monthly charges that are predictable  or get upfront quotes for one-off projects. It will help with your budgeting and ensure that you’re not surprised by a large hourly rate bill.

In other words, the agreed-upon budget outlined in the monthly fee model ensures your service provider will handle any IT-related issues that arise.

And if you need any computer upgrades, or firewall set-ups these may not be included in your monthly- fee but you can bet the IT provider will ensure these issues are discussed. It’s part of their service to make you aware of your IT needs and potential issues that can arise due to outdated hardware. 

What are the drawbacks?

Firstly, an IT provider will manage your IT remotely. But for some issues you may prefer a physical technician to fix an issue rather than instructions over the phone. On the other hand, when you do get an on-site call it may cost you extra. And that’s because there’s petrol and travelling time, on top of the time to fix a problem.

Secondly, even though your IT provider is there to help support your software applications such as CRM and ensure applications up and running, they are not responsible for training your team or customising it for your business.

Lastly, the hiring of a reputable IT support company will need to be worked into your budget. The fees will depend on the size of your company and your technical needs and are likely include an upfront fee and a monthly spend.

What questions should I ask to vet IT support companies?

Firstly, it’s a good idea to think about your IT needs and goals and whether outsourcing your IT is what your business needs at the moment. Secondly, ask yourself if your business needs help in any particular area such as cyber security, increasing the power and performance of your networks, or speeding up response times.

These are some questions that you can ask

1.What’s included in the cost?

You need to know the price and the details of what that included. Read the contract carefully, ensure you understand exactly what it includes. For instance, at the end of the month an amount for a server upgrade ends up costing you. And you weren’t expecting it and it wasn’t budgeted for.

2. Are you compatible?

Double check that the platforms a provider supports align with are compatible with the technologies you use, or you are considering for the future.  For example support companies can have a good technical know-how with Apple products but aren’t across Microsoft or Cisco products.

3. How are passwords protected?

It’s most important to find out how the IT provider manage their passwords internally. multifactor authentication, should get a mention. If it isn’t that a problem. Above you it’s not wise to choose a provider who keeps their customers’ passwords in plain-text, unencrypted Excel spreadsheets.

It’s not secure. A hacker need only exploit one vulnerability to get access to all of their clients’ passwords. So we can see why IT support companies are a prime target for hackers. Therefore ensure any company you hire securely keeps passwords and other sensitive data secure and they have systems in place.

4. How do you train employees?

Ask a potential IT service provider how they train their staff members against cybersecurity threats. Certainly because human error and false confidence are often the cause of a security breach,. So, it’s a good indication if the provider conducts training on phishing attempts and updates their training regularly for their staff and clients alike.

If an employee whether employed at with your business or with the IT support provider clicks on a malicious link or opens the wrong email, your entire IT infrastructure could be put at risk.

The best IT company for your business will work alongside you, like a business partner. So do your homework to pick the right IT provider. Interview a few providers before settling on one. When find the right IT fit for your business, someone that can provide the services you need, who are trustworthy IT support company, your entire business will benefit.