One aspect that all businesses have to pay adequate attention to is the information technology and its impact on daily operations. ‘IT’ is something many small business owners have heard about at some point. It’s even possible that you have an IT section of your business that supposedly deals with everything ‘techy’. Still, you really don’t know what they do or how important it is to your business outlook and revenue.
Even though you’re not a prominent business owner or manager, you’re expected to know how this part of the business is run and how you can make the best use of technology solutions for your business.
So, if you are a small business owner looking to upgrade the IT services of your firm, or make important decisions regarding how your IT infrastructure is positioned, then you should read on to get an effective guide.
Why Small Businesses Need An IT Support Partner
As a small business, you know how important it is to have a competitive advantage. You must have the best service in industry.
And even if you may not notice it on a large scale, there’s a trail of technology support in your business. From the tablet based point-of-sales systems, to your VoIP phone system, and the cloud accounting software , it’s true to say that technology is no longer just a part of business, but the core of it.
Information technology in business has become such a foundational component to your daily operations that all businesses decisions need to take technology into account.
If you hire a new employee, you need to consider what technology they will need. If you want to offer a new service, you must know what tech you will require to provide it. If you want to take advantage of all the new ways consumers shop, like online or through apps, you can’t do it without thinking about IT.
With the changes that we experience in the business world daily –from increasing demands of customers and unpredictable market trends, to haphazard security threats– it’s now apparent that having reliable small business IT support will put your business on the trajectory of success.
Technology moves businesses along different productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency levels. It affects every aspect of the business operation and scales up the business yield rates more than a traditional style can offer. IT includes hardware, software, and personnel management.
Now, it’s one thing to have these IT systems active in your business, but it’s another to have a structure that regulates and supports your IT system. No matter the size of your business, an effective IT support will considerably scale it up. Let’s look at a few reasons why a proper IT support system is valuable to your business:
Cybercriminals are attacking more small businesses now than ever. One reason they’re able to get away with this is that most small businesses don’t invest in security. A proper IT system helps protect your assets and data, sensitive information, and any other support that minimizes security threats.
Technology support provides better communication and collaboration through multiple means. From video conferences and customer chat support, to remote project management, IT provides the best tools to navigate your communication through the modern business style.
Enhancing productivity and better business solutions
Using quality tools helps improve work efficiency and makes your operations even more reliable. On the other hand, using IT tools can get a bit overwhelming if you try to operate them yourself without the right resources. That’s why it’s important to get all the support that you can get. Proper IT support helps you zero in on the useful tools you can use that’ll fit into your situation and help you reach the goal you gun for.
Managing and maintaining IT infrastructure internally
With the abovementioned, it’s apparent that business IT systems need to be appropriately managed to have a real impact on the growth of your business. The processes and procedures for tracking activities must be handled with an infrastructure that works for your business. Most small businesses feel the need to direct all activities and manage their IT structures internally because of their business size.
When a business decides to put internal systems in place to manage IT, it helps the organization unanimously make decisions in this regard and improve the company’s efficiency. Having in the office, an employee responsible for all technology interactions and regulation of systems can help identify your business’ strengths, build on them and take your business from one level to the next. Some may even argue that it’s easier to work with individuals who already have a good idea of how the industry runs.
Many IT solutions are available for small businesses to work with. Amazon and Microsoft already provide cloud storage solutions that a tech team with sufficient know-how can handle. However, an IT infrastructure is more than just cloud storage. It extends to support for employee devices, internal servers, and the necessaries.
However, providing IT services is a lot of work to handle by one person in a small business. Small businesses are so-called because only a few people are involved in them. Therefore, having one of the few involved in the business running and attending to IT-related issues instead of converting their expertise to another business aspect that suits their expertise may be counter-productive.
On average, in-house IT specialists are hired with a $46,000 salary expectancy. It’s advisable to outsource your IT services if you want to maximize resources as a small business owner.
Outsourcing IT services
Including IT services in your small business budget can pose a bit of a challenge because it’s quite hard to tell what’s IT and what isn’t for a small business. It’s more than just a group of people who handle anything ‘computer’.
Even though each business has its unique IT needs, general IT services revolve around the following:
- Providing employee support for devices
- Storing up data in the cloud
- Making necessary system upgrades
- Detecting malware and other security threats
- Implementing new policies
- Conducting requite IT training
- General maintenance of IT software
For small businesses, the level of IT support they require is dependent on their reality – the number of employees, the type of data that needs to be stored, and the availability of software. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to deciding to either create an internal IT team to handle these or outsource your IT management to professionals. Outsourcing to external managers can be a huge relief to employees and a step for business owners to improve their activities.
Outsourcing IT services allows you to purchase the services as you need them. It brings about the flexibility of expanding as you grow. You outsource IT based on how integral it is for your business strategy. Outsourcing may ordinarily seem more expensive than having an in-house specialist. However, depending on your business needs and your IT expert’s proficiency, it may turn out to be cheaper and effective than creating an in-office space.
Here are the benefits of outsourcing IT support.
Benefits of outsourcing IT services and support
Many outstanding benefits come with outsourcing IT services to external professionals.
A small business in the first place isn’t large on human resources. If your business were to take on IT support internally, you’d need the services of at least one person. However, outsourcing will allow all employees to redirect their energy towards other essential aspects of the business.
You and your small team can fully concentrate on implementing new processes, improving customer services, and add value to the organization. It’s also possible that employees don’t have the proper expertise to manage IT systems. Outsourcing will help channel their energy into the right places. Asides from the workforce, resources can also include time and facilities. When you properly outsource, you can use time and physical facilities to develop other aspects of your business.
Cost savings by improving efficiency
Not only will outsourcing your IT service improve your IT department’s efficiency, but it will also enhance your organization’s overall output. As mentioned earlier, employees are given a chance to work on what they know how to do best. This way, fewer mistakes are made, and the overall cost of production is reduced.
Even though it may seem like outsourcing costs more on the surface level, the amount saved on inefficiency and unproductivity balances up or even gives more profits.
Cost of saving by reducing downtime and distraction
Outsourcing helps experts manage your IT needs as required and cut down the unnecessary time wasted just ‘winging’ your in-house solutions. Downtime and distractions have many adverse effects on your business. From negatively impacting your revenue to painting the wrong image of you to the public, the impact of downtime can be massive on our business.
One other part of it that’s not quick to notice is that these interruptions accumulate to unnecessary cost and stress. Interruptions cause us to repeatedly go over processes, using the same or more energy to get the operations back in shape.
The benefits of added security
Again, outsourcing puts the right experts at the disposal of your business. Utilizing an expert for your IT services helps to reduce the chances of getting marked by cybersecurity issues, as experts have a higher chance of tackling these than regular employees with basic expertise. For the benefit of security for your business, outsourcing is usually the better choice. Or else, the cost may be fatal for your overall business.
Costs and process of outsourcing IT support
The nature of IT support you outsource will depend on your business needs and the structure you decide to work with. We’ll go ahead to discuss the different service structures that are available and the cost that goes into them.
The Break/Fix structure
The break/fix model represents the typical pay-for-each-service structure of payment that we know. For each service you outsource to an IT service provider, you get billed as soon as the work is done. The way it works is that once there’s an issue that ‘breaks’, an IT specialist comes in to ‘fix’ it up. The fixable activities include repairing, upgrading, and installing of systems.
The ‘On-Demand’ structure
An On-Demand model doesn’t restrict the outsourcing to only fixing imminent issues, but any kind of problem that the customer feels needs an IT expert. As the name suggests, it works on demand. The issue on ground may have existed for a long time or needs to be prevented to avoid a sudden problem that might disrupt on-going work. No matter how long, this model leaves it to the discretion of the business owner.
The Managed Service structure
The managed service structure is a new adoption different from the previous two. It’s based on a cyclical revenue handled by the client according to a service’s legal agreement that they both adhere to. The way it works is that the client has a fixed price that’s expected of him for the services he receives from the IT expert.
Usually, Service Legal Agreement or Master Service Agreement, as it’s sometimes called, is a contract that binds the customer to pay a fixed price that covers the work done and any other miscellaneous expenses that may be encountered while carrying out the agreement.
Rather than getting overwhelmed with the different challenges your business can face on the front of IT, you should have an adequate plan in place to cater to your IT needs. Even if you start out with an in-house IT expert, moving on, you may need to bring in the help of IT experts to handle this.
Outsourcing your IT service work is usually the ideal thing as a small business. Deciding what IT service outsourcing structure works for you is also another vital issue to consider.
The Managed Service (MSP) structure seems to be the best fit for most small businesses because there’s a security sense that both parties get from the contract. The service level agreement lays down the terms and conditions that both parties must follow – from the scope of services, matrices to measure performance, warranties, and pricing. Once an agreement is in place, both parties can expect adherence from each other.