The Complete Guide to Information Technology and IT Support in 2020

In this article, we'll go into everything that encompasses IT support, why businesses need it, whether it's in-house or outsourced, and tips for how to select the best IT support for your business.

Startup and small business owners face many challenges when trying to grow their business – client dependence, insufficient staff, and balancing the need to increase sales with the desire to create quality products and services. When it comes to allocating limited funds, the lack of capital leads to making some tough decisions, and one area that they often neglect is IT support. Today’s businesses rely on IT networks and systems to conduct their daily operations. Also, more and more businesses report suffering cybersecurity breaches.

Without trained IT professionals on your side, experiencing tech issues or breaches could inflict a lot more damage to your IT infrastructure. If you are relying on non-qualified professionals or IT support from your local tech store, it is time to reassess your strategy to protect your organization’s and your client’s best interests. In this complete guide to IT support, we will discuss why IT is essential to businesses, management systems, and customer success. 

Why Is IT Support Necessary for Every Modern Business?

The best IT support options improve efficiency levels and are flexible enough to grow with your company, particularly during a digital transformation. An efficient IT support team is equipped with the technical skills to support productivity, network performance, and information security by:

  • Keeping tools, software, and operating system current and relevant.
  • Protecting systems and networks against the latest cyber threats, such as network security threats and data breaches
  • Creating a backup plan and disaster recovery plans to ensure the business continues in times of crisis or disruption. .
  • Keeping sufficient storage space available, whether on-site or in the cloud
  • Scaling up your infrastructure and networks to keep up with your company’s growth and changing needs.
  • Keeping end-user devices (desktops, laptops, PDAs, smartphones, printers, mobile devices, etc.) functional, compatible, and effectible with the company’s network.

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What Is IT Support?

Commonly known as tech support, IT support is composed of IT professionals with computer science expertise that are available 24/7 to provide help to a company with various problems related to their computer system or network system. It covers a wide range of areas or any type of hardware or software that your personnel might be using at the office. The two main options a company has when it comes to choosing IT support are outsourcing and employing an in-house IT support team. Are there any differences between in-house or outsourced IT management? How can you decide what is best for your company?

In-House vs. Outsourced IT Support: Pros and Cons

When choosing between in-house and outsourced tech support, there are many issues and differences to consider. The majority of companies today have at least some IT support requirements, and their requirements are integral for establishing the seamless and smooth running of daily operations. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both in-house and outsourced options.

In-House IT Support

Having an in-house IT support team means that your IT department is located inside the business. You need to hire IT experts to run that department and will have complete control over their actions. The benefits of building an in-house tech support team include.

  • Your in-house IT professionals will get to know your business inside out, and they will possess a detailed knowledge of your IT infrastructure.
  • An in-house IT support is on-site, which allows them to address issues more quickly.
  • You can choose to hire team members who fit your company culture. They will gain a unique understanding of the company culture, as well as business challenges and operations.

As for the disadvantages, we need to point out the high costs and additional spending when forming and maintaining an in-house team of IT professionals. If any issues appear after-hours, the employer may incur overtime expenses. Staff members may not have enough experience or time to provide the necessary IT support. Relying on a very small in-house team could cause problems in terms of holiday cover, sickness, or resignation. If one person falls sick and another is on holiday, who is responsible for covering issues outside normal business hours? You cannot expect one or two people to be on call every day during the year because you will be putting business continuity exposed to huge risks. That’s something you don’t need to worry about when your IT helpdesk is outsourced.

When you take into account the cost of hiring, benefits, employment, ineffectiveness, downtime, or turnover, the costs may hit the ceiling. Because of this, building an in-house IT support team is a viable option for larger organizations. 

Looking to hire Outsourced IT? Download our guide for the top 10 questions to ask when hiring an IT provider.

Outsourced IT Support

Outside providers or IT support are called Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and thanks to them, companies can outsource every IT support needed to a third-party team of IT professionals. These industry experts have the skills, resources, and time to fully manage your data storage needs, IT infrastructure, and cybersecurity needs from a remote location. MSPs can help come up with an efficient and cost-effective IT solution that's flexible enough to support your growing business needs. They will also reassess your needs at regular intervals to determine whether your IT solutions need to be adjusted or upgraded. 

With an outsourced IT support team, all your IT issues will be resolved externally by a third-party IT support provider. The benefits of outsourcing IT support include:

  • Lower associated costs.
  • Access to a team of professionals with experience and current knowledge.
  • Increasing business efficiency and productivity.
  • Delivering a standard service level and reporting.
  • Freeing up human resources for core projects.
  • Flexible options that suit most IT support requirements and company budgets.

The cost is the most apparent benefit when outsourcing IT support. Because they specialize in IT support, MSPs usually have more experience, talent, tools, and resources for dealing with IT issues. The best MSPs provide 24/7 support, so if any tech issues arise during off-hours, you can rest assured that they will be handled as quickly as possible. They will proactively monitor your system to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

The disadvantages of your outsourced IT support provider will mostly depend on the quality of service of the provider. These may include problems such as unexpected costs written in the fine print and terms and conditions of the contract. Furthermore, overseas teams cannot visit you on site, so if you have any hardware issues, they may not be able to resolve them quickly. Outsourcing a local team, however, comes with benefits such as regular system checkups and dedicated on-site support.

Why Do Businesses Need IT Support?

Whether in-house or outsourced, regardless of the company type and size, businesses that use technology for performing their daily operations need professional IT support. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your enterprise needs an IT support team.

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1. Introduce the latest technologies to advance your company goals

Are your company's technological assets up-to-date in regards to the latest tech advancements that fit your business? If not, your IT support team can bring cutting-edge technologies that can advance your company's potential. Also, you will invest less energy and time learning about new technologies. You can use those tech advancements to look for further means of development and expansion to propel your company's objectives. In this regard, IT support provides access to special resources that might not have been accessible before.

2. Improved cybersecurity

Regardless of the type of business you run, you collect data and sensitive information that’s essential to protect. Having a solid cybersecurity strategy and backup systems in place are absolutely critical to help protect that information. Your IT support team will ensure the majority of the security and backup functions to help keep the confidential customer, employee, and company data safe and secure against cyber-attacks. In case any documents are lost, your IT support team will be able to recover it.

3. Save money and increase ROI

Over time, your enlisted IT support will help you save money and bring a higher ROI to your company. You won’t need to stress over software investments and costly repairs. You will pay a fixed rate on a monthly basis and won’t experience unexpected costs or fees. MSPs offer service options that are adaptable to different financial plans. In other words, the tech support area is a costly part of businesses today, and putting resources into the right service provider implies picking monetary security.

4. Get specialized and customized service

Every company is unique, and its needs and demands vary, which means that there’s no one-size-fits-all type of tech support service. You need a specialized IT support team to make sure you get modified administration that is customized to fit the ways your company works. The personnel in MSP tech support teams have been carefully chosen from a pool of qualified candidates and have been thoroughly prepared for the job. Your IT support provider will have alternatives and abilities you will not find elsewhere.

5. Expanding company efficiency

Company owners are always trying to find new ways and approaches to improve their company’s productivity, and technology itself can help them achieve that. However, both hardware and software solutions experience bugs, issues, and perplexities, and without the right people to take care of those issues, your technology can diminish productivity. An IT support team will guarantee that the productivity from using tech solutions is augmented and that you’ll be able to use it for what it’s made for – to help you achieve business objectives more rapidly.

6. More time to manage, less time to worry

What's more exhausting and stressful than having to deal with computer-related issues? We all face those issues from time to time. The truth is that you and your staff know how to use the technology but don't have the tech-savvy to fix it when it malfunctions. Your IT support team is there to take on those issues and relieve you of the stress that comes with them. That will give more time and energy to focus on tasks and projects significant to the business, such as employee management and strategy building.

Access to Expertise with Managed Service Providers

Managed Service Providers are usually specialized in providing IT expertise that would otherwise be hard to find. Larger organizations can afford to build an in-house IT department, segment it, and assign different IT roles, such as CIO (Chief Information Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer), IT Director, Vice President of IT, IT Support Engineer, and others who are responsible for driving their tech development, protecting against cyber-attacks, and taking care of the organization’s technologies overall. In startups and small businesses, all these roles fall onto one or a handful of people that can’t manage the workload themselves or don’t have the knowledge or experience to perform all the functions. By hiring an MSP, you will get access to the expertise you need at an affordable price and a fixed monthly rate. 

Managed Service Providers offer services such as:

  • Proactive help and IT support
  • Controlled spending
  • Local and industry-specific compliance regulation
  • Security (unified threat management and protection against cyber-attacks)
  • 24/7 network monitoring
  • Centralized IT management
  • Scheduled maintenance
  • Regular IT infrastructure re-evaluation

How to Hire the Right MSP for Your Business

So, you've decided to hire an IT support provider. But how do you choose the right one for your business? When it comes to choosing among the many MSPs out there, we advise you first to understand what makes an IT support provider good and reliable. You need to know what questions to ask to see whether the MSP you are interviewing is worth your money and time.  

1. How long have they been in the business?

The MSP business model has been around for years, meaning that there was enough time for a company to build its reputation and establish a good track record. Ask them how long they have been in the business and take a look at the historical data to check for any red flags in how they conduct their business.

2. What services do they offer?

Once you determine your IT needs, you will know what kind of services you need from an MSP. Ask them what services you will be receiving according to the pricing model you choose and figure out whether they fit within your current IT needs and business model.

3. Ask about their service-level agreement

Does the MSP have any service-level agreement (SLA) in place? An SLA is a commitment between you (the client) and the service provider. What you want from your MSP is fast response times to any issues that might arise, keeping your systems managed and your data secured, and this is where SLAs are essential. If a service provider doesn’t have an SLA in place, you might end up waiting for hours or days before they respond to your request. As for the contract they offer, ask what the contract duration is and how transparent it is. With businesses such as Managed Solution, you get a 60-day no-fee opt-out clause that allows you to test the service and cancel whenever you feel like it. 

4. Are they local or overseas?

Local IT issues that need immediate attention usually cannot be solved by an IT support team located somewhere overseas. Due to the lack of on-site support and language capabilities, overseas service providers often offer much lower prices for their services. Also, these companies may experience unreliable Internet speeds that result in slow upload/download speeds. You need to know that your business won’t suffer because your IT support team from a remote location has a poor Internet connection. As for local IT support, you will have peace of mind knowing that your IT support provider uses the same Internet provider that you do.

5. Are they available 24/7?

What if a tech problem occurs after-hours and you don’t have anyone to address issues or customer requests immediately? Leaving an issue unaddressed for several hours is enough for that issue to turn into something more serious. Customer success relies on around-the-clock IT support availability, but not all MSPs offer that. Improve the customer experience by finding an MSP that can begin to work on your IT problems immediately, even if your in-house personnel are at home sleeping.

6. Does their IT expert’s skillset align with your company’s business objectives?

Every business is unique when it comes to their online business operations, so you'll want to hire an MSP that is familiar with how your business functions. While IT professionals do not focus on having a marketing and sales approach to close more deals, they need to understand your branding, public relations, and marketing strategy, especially if they engage with your customers via live chat. They need to grasp your product description and recognize your needs, along with your target audience's pain points, so that they don't cause more problems, such as ruining the buying experience for potential customers.

7. Are they proactive?

Instead of reacting to issues arising from customer feedback, satisfaction surveys, and ticket systems, your IT support provider should take a proactive approach and prevent issues from happening in the first place. They need to closely monitor your IT infrastructure and network, collect and analyze the data, and recognize potential problems before they become a problem.

8. How flexible are their contracts?

With a flexible contract, you will be able to add or remove staff in your remote IT support team. That’s critical for businesses that plan to scale. However, you need to know that some outsourcing companies have small teams that won’t be able to provide additional staff when you need them. Focus on finding an MSP that’s not understaffed.

9. Ask for references and testimonials

The best way to find out if an MSP is as reliable as they present themselves is through testimonials and references from their former or current clients. Customer satisfaction has always been a benchmark of success, so be sure to check their website, social media pages, LinkedIn profile, and review sites for previous experiences. 

It’s the year 2020, and more and more businesses are relying on technology to deliver an enhanced user experience. Some use it to support certain processes, while others may have integrated it into the foundation of their business. When identifying your business objectives for the year, considering the right IT support needs to be at the top of your list. IT support solutions will help maximize your company efficiency, save money in the long run, protect your digital assets, and keep your employees and clients happy.

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