The choice of a technology support partner has become one of the most important for companies, small or large. Because of the intrinsic nature of I.T. throughout an organisation, the effects of a bad decision can be felt from top to bottom. So what should you be on the lookout for? Here is a list of things you are almost certain to hear and how to see through them:
1) It’s cheaper to outsource your I.T. support to us than stay in-house
This may be true, except that most companies charge by the hour, so there is no cap on how much your support budget may run to. If you really want to be sure it is cheaper than having your own in-house team, choose an I.T. support vendor that offers a fixed cost.
2) We don’t believe in hidden costs
All well and good, except that often vendors hide “hidden” costs out in the open. Mark-ups, transport costs, delivery fees may all be openly discussed, but if you aren’t sure when or how often these might crop up, they are just as bad as hidden costs. Make sure your vendor can tell you what these unexpected (not hidden) costs might be and when they are charged.
3) Our solution fits your requirements
Customisation is a promise that every vendor will make. The only way to make sure that you actually get a customised service is to check what kind of documentation a vendor will provide. To offer a solution tailored to you, a vendor must have first documented your systems structure (existing and proposed), so look for that.
4) You can communicate with us at any time
Communication is key for any I.T. support relationship. Problems must be explained quickly and clearly so they can be solved efficiently. Look for multiple communication channels and availability time to test how beneficial this promise will really be. Also, the best I.T. support suppliers will outline their communication processes, so that all your staff know who to contact in any given situation.
5) We offer emergency support
There is Emergency Support and there is emergency support. What you need is immediate support that includes an on-site visit if required. Without this, emergency support is just plain old run-of-the-mill support, which doesn’t really do much good when your staff are in a panic over a lost connection or a faulty server.
6) Minimal downtime guaranteed
The word “minimal” hides a multitude of sins. The only thing you can do is get a specific minimum time limit. Also look for vendors that have processes for a worst case scenario, which includes setting you up with a new machine that is pre-installed with the software you need and access to your work files in the quickest time possible.
7) Our service follows you wherever you go
Many vendors offer remote service support, which can therefore follow you no matter what city you may visit, but this is only limited to remote support. Check to see what kind of on-site support a vendor can offer when you go travelling. The best will have a network of support engineers in multiple cities, meaning they can really support you in an emergency when you are travelling.
8) We offer the latest in disaster recovery
Scratch beneath the surface of whatever disaster recovery process is on offer. It usually comes down to frequency of back-ups, which in this time of fast connections, should be done remotely and automatically. Further ensure that the back-ups are checked regularly, or you may find a vendor has not realized that an automated back-up process no longer works properly when you need it.
9) Our package includes many additional services that you don’t even know that you need
This basically comes down to anti-virus and spam protection, but you must check what is included. Anti-virus must be updated regularly and reliably and spam software should be adaptable to your level of risk. Make sure that management of this is included, so that you don’t need to worry about it. Remember, your tech support is supposed to make your life easier, not introduce more complexity.
10) We grow as you grow
Of course, all I.T. support vendors will hope to continue a long relationship with their customers, but the fact is, as a company grows, their computing and network requirements change greatly. Ensure that your vendor has processes in place that go beyond your existing requirements, with specific knowledge of how to handle larger companies. This means multiple offices, perhaps across multiple countries and the ability to scale all their services.
This list is designed to help you dig a little deeper into the most common services that are offered by tech support vendors. It will allow you to separate the really good vendors from those who just promise a standard list of computing services.
Jason Dibbin manages JLD Tech [http://www.jld-tech.com/], an I.T consulting company with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. He had more than 10 years of experience as a consultant before creating his own it consulting firm [http://www.jld-tech.com/].
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