When it comes to finding reliable IT support London has some of the best companies to choose from. It is a competitive marketplace, and the challenges are broad and deep. You could rely on the companies that provided your IT solutions, you could have your own in-house IT support team, or alternatively you could invest in some high quality outsourcing. The choice will depend on how big your company is, the complexity of your IT systems, and your current in-house skillset.
One of the challenges of finding reliable IT support London business owners complain about the most is finding a responsive deskside support team. A lot of organisations with large and complex IT systems have their own in-house deskside support. Smaller companies will usually decide that it simply does not make sense to use an in-house team for their IT, because they cannot afford to retain someone full time for IT support when that person will be used on only an occasional basis. It makes more sense to bring someone in if they will be getting lots of support calls per day and there will always be a workload for re-imaging machines or doing software or hardware upgrades.
Basic tasks such as managing account details, restoring deleted files, taking care of the network and managing systems or security policies or answering basic ‘how-to’ queries are all things that can be done remotely. This is especially true when you are working with more modern Windows machines which already have built-in remote control options. For this kind of IT support you could realistically use a remote outsourcing firm, opting to pay callout fees from a local specialist when they need more hands-on work.
Whatever kind of IT support company you choose, it’s important that you consider the issues of data protection and NDAs. The IT company will end up having access to a lot of highly sensitive business data, and if you are not mindful of this then there is the risk that you could end up unwittingly breaching regulations, or in a position where your data is used for nefarious purposes. Be mindful of this risk and do not allow anyone to have access to company information unless you are sure that you know what they will do with it and how it will be stored.
Ongoing Support vs Per Call
Some IT support companies charge per call, and this structure can work well for smaller companies with relatively basic needs. For bigger companies, or companies which anticipate needing frequent support for new or complex systems, an ongoing retainer could be the more efficient choice.
There are some companies that will offer an ongoing retainer with a number of calls ‘built in’ and have pricing that starts at a modest and competitive level. Again, this can be a good option for freelancers and smaller partnerships or mom and pop companies. If the extent of your IT support requirements are a few bits of help with your EPOS system or online store, then why have an employee at your beck and call?
Using Cloud Solutions
There is another option that could cover many IT support issues for SMEs, and that is moving much of your work to the cloud. There is cloud software for document editing, tech support, customer service, sales, and even accounting. With cloud software, the maintenance burden falls to the software provider instead of to the owner.
If handling updates to office, fixing corrupted installations, and making sure that everyone is running the same version of the software (as well as worrying about piracy) is something that is currently burdensome for your organisation, then it may make sense to use a good IT support company instead, or opt for a cloud solution. Take, for example Sage One or Office 365.
With these you get fully-functional versions of the software that you have come to know and love over the years, but they are hosted in the cloud and accessed through your web browser. You don’t have to worry about license keys, expensive upgrades, support, security updates, patches, etc. All you need to do is make sure that you have computers connected to the internet with a reasonably modern browser on them.
The provider of the cloud software – Sage or Microsoft in these cases, does the rest. Everything is smooth and seamless. Work is saved to a cloud drive, there are regular backups taken, so you don’t have to worry about restoring backups for lost files. If anything goes wrong, you can contact their support and they’ll take care of it.
More and more companies are going this route, and it makes a lot of sense for ongoing support. It can even save you money on hardware, because the cloud server handles most of the data processing – even a lightweight, dumb laptop will handle the load of displaying the web page. Cloud solutions can be a boon for collaboration as well.
Defining The Responsibilities of the IT Team
Take your time when finding reliable IT support London is a competitive marketplace, and make sure that you know exactly what the team is supposed to do, as well as what end users are responsible for. Consider, for example, the issue of Bring Your Own Device. Many organisations have opted to allow BYOD policies if workers aren’t going to be accessing anything sensitive on their phones. The logic with BYOD is that it improves morale to allow people to use a device they like and are familiar with, in an ecosystem that they are invested in. Forcing an iPhone user to have an Android work phone, or an Android lover towards Blackberry is going to cause endless frustration. BYOD should, in theory, improve morale and reduce the support burden too.
Of course, it can sometimes cause problems. LEss tech savvy users will always need support – and having to support dozens of different flavours of Android along with Blackberry, Apple and maybe even other niche systems such as Windows Phone is going to be much harder for the IT team than just sticking to one thing.
When BYOD is taken a step further to ‘you can bring your own laptop too’ then that’s going to cause more frustrations. Who knows what a user is installing on their own Windows desktop. That’s where malware issues start to creep in.
If you had a good IT team handling setup and installation for your machines, then they would set appropriate policies and admin controls o lock the machines down and prevent the installation of anything beyond work-required apps. With a work-provided machine it is easier to control things like password reuse too.
So, before you start calling up IT companies to see if they can provide user support, be clear an what policies you have and what you are willing to enforce. If you are not comfortable with what the company is offering; if you feel that enforcing the kind of strict policies they might want is overkill for your organisation or that it would go against your ethos, then don’t use them. It doesn’t make sense, in many ways, for a small company that doesn’t hold customer data to use security policies that would make the NSA raise their eyebrows.
Don’t forget that the time you invest in finding reliable IT support London based companies can trust will pay off, though. Lost time due to failed backups, lax security or general user issues is something that costs companies thousands every year. When your employees are locked out of their desktops, or a failed Windows Update is stopping them from being able to use certain apps on their machines, then those employees are going to be left unable to work, and you will still need to pay them their wages. So, you have the double whammy of lost productivity and spent wages.
That’s why it makes sense to have a clear policy set early on, and that’s why it’s so important that you define the roles and responsibilities of your IT support company.
If those roles include backups, then investigate where those backups are held. If you’re based in London then a UK based backup company could well be a good idea because that means the company will have an understanding of what they are required to do with regard to data protection. Make sure, however, that their off-site backups are suitably far away from where you are based. After all, you want backups not only for the potential risk of a hard drive failing or a user making a mistake – the backups should also cover the risk of a fire or a natural disaster that has further reaching implications.
With any form of contractor, it’s a good idea to get references and follow up on testimonials. This is particularly true with IT support, where you are giving a third party access to the core of your business. If you’re nervous about doing this (which you rightly should be), then it makes sense to talk to a few past customers first. Were IT queries resolved promptly? What service level agreement was offered, and was the SLA always adhered to. If it was breached, was the client properly compensated?
Were jobs done the way that you would expect? Was account security always respected? Were your own employees happy with the way that calls were handled and the professionalism that the first line support agents used. When queries needed to be passed to second line or desk side support, was this done in a smooth and efficient way with communication at every stage.
If you have the chance to trial a company’s services for a short period, do so with one department and see what they can offer. Listen to your employees and remember that while there will always be some natural fear of change, you should not let the assumption of such issues over-ride the possibility that a person’s complaints are fair and legitimate.
Today, IT is an important part of any organisation, and you will need to remember that the way your IT systems function will reflect massively in the service that you can offer to your customers. That’s why it’s so important to keep everything running smoothly, and why you should be investing in a reliable support team that will grow and scale with your business and allow you to offer the best possible service to your customers every single day.