No business, large or small, can afford to be without IT services for any length of time. While large businesses may be more adversely impacted in the OpEx column by company-wide incidents, they are also more likely to have more internal resources available to resolve those issues. The help desk can provide alerts to the network engineers or desktop engineers. From Levels 1 through 3, corporate IT defines all support tasks and separates them between different IT departments.
Unfortunately, small businesses don’t always have the luxury of drawing from multi-tiered resources to get technical issues resolved. In fact, small businesses that employ anywhere between 1 and 50 end users typically don’t have their own help desk. They’ll either have an “IT guy” on site or a remote support vendor that handles all basic Level 1 troubleshooting issues (i.e. account administration, access, and connectivity). But what happens if the IT guy calls in sick or goes on vacation? How available is that resource first thing Monday morning when support requests are at their peak? More importantly, what if there’s a network outage or hardware failure that a remote Level 1 team can’t resolve? Your business, at least the IT functions that drive it, grinds to a halt. That’s why many small businesses are turning to a single source to manage every aspect of their technology assets.
By contrast, larger businesses and corporations tend to have their own IT departments. So if they do outsource any portion of support to a third-party help desk provider, it’s generally to serve as a first point of contact that triages and troubleshoots the low hanging fruit. In this model, the help desk escalates more complex troubleshooting to the client’s internal IT staff only when those support items match their skill set and rate of compensation.
How to Define Everything IT
Unfortunately, small businesses can’t afford just to outsource portions of IT support. They need “one throat to choke” and a help desk that helps with everything. Considering small businesses are rarely less complex in how they leverage technology, everything can mean a whole lot. Most of these businesses need wi-fi for internet access, a security solution that protects both the laptops and desktops as well as a firewall to protect internal and client data on the network itself. In addition to cybersecurity solutions, small businesses need the data itself needs to reside with a scalable, high availability storage solution. Lastly, they should be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Unplanned interruptions such as outages, force majeure events, or security breaches, demand a Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity solution as the last line of defense.
Since technology is ever evolving with upgrades, new productivity tools, and more sophisticated network security threats, small businesses also need CIO level guidance on how to adapt or expand their capabilities. It’s not often that a call center solution includes technology consulting. Standard help desks usually focus on incident management and escalation reports with a reactive approach to service improvements. Others just offer a data dump, emailing ticket info to the client to interpret IT operations as they see fit.
A Point in the Right Direction
An ideal help desk for small businesses owns all of their IT challenges from a proactive and reactive standpoint. So the help desk doesn’t limit operational reviews to past performance. The help desk vendor provides a technology road map including IT asset analysis and then makes brand agnostic strategic recommendations. In other words, the best solution wins. An unbiased consulting partner will recommend technology that aligns with the client’s business goals, budget, and ultimately their growth trajectory.
Says TechNoir Solutions’ CIO and Partner Jim Velco, “Encouraging our clients to make significant investments in project management or CRM software that’ll either be obsolete or won’t scale up to their needs 12 months down the road would be costly and counterproductive. Though we don’t claim to have a crystal ball, we can at least thoroughly vet potential products with an understanding of how our clients may apply them after 2x and 3x growth.”
The good news is being a consultative partner means being part of the solution development conversation as priorities evolve. Sometimes an urgent network installation project forces the client to contact the MSP. But once those IT infrastructure services are up and running, the dialogue shifts to ongoing IT support. A fully managed service supports everything IT for end users as well as the network itself.
What is a Fully Managed Service?
When outsourcing to an MSP, no IT related services on the network, desktop, and peripherals are monitored, managed, and supported by the client’s staff. Coverage is all under one roof with the MSP’s help desk. What this means for small businesses is they never have to take the DIY approach to resolving technical issues, finding root causes of larger problems, or evaluating new technology. They can focus on their core business and leave everything else to the MSP.
How Inclusive is All Inclusive?
In addition to resolving technical issues that arise, all-inclusive means everything that can happen on a device including remote monitoring and management (anti-virus updates and patches) is supported for one flat per device fee. The MSP resolves any interruptions in IT functionality. So there are no additional per incident or project charges so long as new hardware or software isn’t required. There is no “nickel and dime” pricing model for each time end users need support. Whereas larger companies with internal IT staff may not find as much value in outsourcing more than Level 1 support, for companies with no technical staff this model can be a huge relief.
Below are some IT related functions that a true MSP should offer any small business on a flat fee basis:
- Help desk & onsite support services
- Virus definition updates
- Microsoft patch management
- Online support portal (to submit and monitor support tickets)
- Spyware monitoring and removal
- Ensure network performance and security standards as required by customer clients
- Add and remove users from server
- Email spam protection
- Quarterly onsite/Call strategy meeting
- Virtual CIO technology consulting – IT asset analysis and strategic recommendations