7 Questions to ask of Your Current IT Support Provider
“No Major Issues” is the least you should expect from your IT Provider, but that it is not the same as “Great Service” or “Value for Money”.
When discussing your IT Support Provider, have you ever said something like “we’ve been with them for years and never really had any major issues”? Whilst “no issues” is definitely better than loads of issues, one word can make a big difference to that statement – “yet”.
Given that most businesses today rely on IT, one major issue is enough to have a significant impact on trading, customer service or data security. The priority given to the management and support of your IT should reflect this.
You should not have to hope that nothing goes wrong. Instead, you should have confidence that your IT Support Provider is proactively managing your technology to prevent issues and keep your business running as normal should a major incident occur. That is great service and value for money.
Many IT support providers, on paper, offer similar products, services and service levels. This article looks at seven questions to ask of your IT provider to sanity check the service you are receiving.
1. Are Your Systems and Servers Up-to-Date & Fully Supported?
This is an important question. Whilst “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” can be a good motto in some walks of life, IT is not one of those walks.
Technology vendors release updates and upgrades to address two key factors, security, and performance enhancements. It is important for IT, particularly critical systems, to be up to date. This ensures your organisation and data are as secure as possible. It also guarantees that your technology is optimised and more likely to be compatible with any new systems you may adopt and ultimately keeps your business running efficiently.
As servers and critical systems are central to the day-to-day functioning of the business, it should not be unusual to apply upgrades and testing out of hours.
2. How do You Know if Your Backups are Successful?
Do you know when most businesses find out for the first time that their backups have not been successful? You guessed it. It’s when their main system fails, and they urgently need their backup.
Cloud backups have become increasingly popular due to the scale and off-premise nature of the storage. However, this means that the management of backups is normally out of sight day-to-day. Your IT provider should be monitoring this and providing you with regular feedback and assurance.
At Innovec, not only do we have the latest technology, alerts and automated reports sent to our engineers, we personally login and check our customer backups at least once a week to ensure there are no unreported issues, or errors with our notifications.
3. How Regularly are Patches and Updates Applied to Your IT Set-up?
This is similar to question one but a little less intense. Patches and updates are released by vendors to address more day-to-day issues, such as minor bugs. Whilst the security implications of not applying patches are not as severe, this is more about making sure you are getting the most from the technology you have purchased and removing niggling issues for the people in your business.
Patches and updates should be applied at least quarterly under your maintenance agreement.
4. Have They Fixed or Improved Something Without You Asking?
This ties back to the opening sentence of the article. Reactive support is the minimum you should expect from your IT Support Provider. Whilst you equally don’t want a support provider who actually gets in the way through over activity, or eagerness to sell you their latest system, they should be a trusted advisor and manage your systems proactively.
Using industry specific software, it is possible for your IT provider monitor your systems remotely. This means that they can receive alerts about underperforming systems, and resolve issues before they impact your team. This should be standard practice and they should keep you updated on this activity.
As experts you should expect an IT provider to advise you on the latest technology available and the benefits it offers to your business, empowering you to make an informed decision with minimal effort.
5. How Effective is Your Anti-Virus?
Hopefully very. Like backups, this issue often only rears its head if you unfortunately experience a security threat. Similarly to upgrades, patches and proactive maintenance, your IT provider should recommend, install and proactively maintain industry leading software suitable to your needs.
If you are concerned about security, speak to us today or read our other articles regarding tips for maintaining security, and how to recognise and remove a computer virus. You may also be interested to read and share our free guide to recognising and eliminating a computer virus or tips for maintaining security whilst remote working.
6. When was the Last Time Your IT Provider Visited Your Site?
Regardless of how good remote support is, sometimes it’s best just to give something the once over in person. A visit to your site also offers an opportunity to understand how your business works beyond system requirements and strengthens relationships between your staff and support engineers. It also gives staff a great chance to ask a quick question whilst someone is in the office anyway.
For all of the reasons above, we would recommend that your IT provider should visit your site regularly.
7. Does Your Current Provider Make it Easier to Run Your Business?
Wow, great question Innovec!
Thank you, we thought so.
Ultimately this is the big question. IT is a tool to make things easier for your business. You pay an IT Support Provider specifically to manage IT for you, so, you should be able to focus completely on your business without worrying or getting involved in IT issues regularly.
If your team are regularly distracted by niggling issues, and you feel the onus is on your business drive improvements from your provider, are you getting value for the money you are paying?
Whilst it can be daunting to consider changing such a critical element within your business, having the right IT support set-up can make a massive difference to your output. If your IT provider cannot answer the questions above or you are not comfortable with your own answers, it may be time to review the set-up.
Most importantly, when reviewing IT Support Providers, we recommend speaking to existing customers. If the best answer you get is “we’ve never had any major issues” you know what to ask.
We specialise in supporting IT for growing businesses. We know that all you need is for technology to make things easier for your business and we make this happen.
At a time when your customers expect great service, speed and reliability, you need the valuable people in your business to be engaged and capable of doing what you hired them to do. Not losing time and momentum to avoidable tasks or processes. More importantly than anything else at the moment, you need them to be safe.
Please contact us on 01292 427 420 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any assistance in making your business ready to deal with remote working requirements.
We manage your IT. You run your business.