I need IT Support – Where do I start?

April 16th 2018

Today's business world is interconnected and tech-enabled. To everyone's delight, Information Technology has reduced geographical limitations to mere numbers, making how we collect, store, transfer, and share data across the world as simple as pressing a button.

But companies have their work cut out for them as they try to keep up with advancements in the field. Even the most tech-savvy business owners find it hard to single-handedly deal with the challenges of storing, retrieving, and integrating their data.

The Importance of Having a Handle on Your I.T. Needs

Advancements in business technology speak for themselves. Video conferencing and online meet-up tools have come to replace conventional email communications between stakeholders. Employees are flexible, online, and in standby around the clock, now that they have the means to stay connected.

But today's gadgets are nothing like the PCs of yesteryear. The phrase 'technical difficulties' means something very different today than what it did a decade or even a year ago. Technical issues also have far more wide-ranging effects on your business now. Whether yours is an SME or a multinational corporation, you know it simply can't survive in isolation.

That's precisely what an IT department is for: keeping your company connected with the rest of the virtual world at all times. But there is surprisingly few businesses today that have the resources to set up and run an IT department of their own. Their solution? Outsourcing to managed IT service providers.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Your I.T. Support

If you're thinking of outsourcing your IT support services, you can look at it as a simple make-or-buy decision, weighing risks and benefits. We'll discuss risks in a moment, but let's first consider the advantages. Some of the benefits of having an outside company look after your IT infrastructure are:

How to Outsource Your Help Desk to IT Providers

Step 1 - Enlist the help of an expert

If you're going to shut down your IT support practices in the hope of finding a contractor quickly, your best bet is to enlist the help of a provider you already know fairly well through business contacts.

But if you have time to spare, you should first consider drawing up a list of reputable and well-connected companies that you can interview. Based on their portfolio, their service packages, and their references, you could then draw up a shortlist.

The contenders should then be introduced to your business so that they can offer you a list of suggestions, and so that they can pitch their offer. Ultimately, how well you get on with their representatives and how fast they can respond in emergency situations are two more issues to consider in your cost-benefit analysis.

Step 2 - Assess the situation

The extent to which you want an outsider involved in your business processes is a matter of circumstance. Your reputation, the location of your headquarters, and even your company's values could be deciding factors in how much of your internal processes you hand over. So, before you get down to business, you should first assess the risks involved in outsourcing your IT help-desk.

An outsourcing venture can have undesirable outcomes, such as hidden costs (unexpected transition costs, emergency management costs, or increasing service costs) or contractual difficulties (costly amendments, liability disputes, or renegotiation issues). You could also be faced with a diminishing quality of service, as well as a loss of in-house expertise, control, innovative capacity, and even competitive advantage.

Consult your senior staff and ask your business connections for feedback, so that you fully grasp how this transition will affect business. Try to set some boundaries, find one or two backup options, and start drawing up a contingency plan and budget.

Step 3 - Align technology with your business goals

New technology is a given, but making this outsourcing venture work for you will require more than an IT systems upgrade. To begin with, you'll need middle and senior managers on board. That's because you want the entire company to buy-in on whatever innovative solutions you and your managed service providers hope to implement.

The stakeholders need to be in agreement, so they have to enjoy using the collaborative tools and all the other new software that will be put at their disposal. They must also be willing to actively engage with this new company or to report to someone who will single-handedly do this on everyone's behalf.

Network health assessments, hardware procurement, and software integration are all issues a reliable IT services provider with a holistic approach will be able to help with. But you're bound to have some teething problems as you hand over and adopt new practices, and as people settle into new roles and responsibilities.

The possibility of these internal issues needs to be considered in advance so that the IT service provider isn't portrayed negatively from the start and used as a scapegoat. This could sooner or later reflect negatively on you.

Step 4 - Create an IT roadmap

In-house IT support gets bogged down with day-to-day fixes, so a team rarely has time to work on new functionality or to migrate to new systems. Having an IT roadmap sets the course for a new business strategy by helping you visualise your priorities, your costs, your project owners, and your timeline. The transition to an outsourcing venture is just the type of goal that needs a systematic and holistic approach to project management, so an IT roadmap that every stakeholder can adhere to is a must.

Step 5 - Determine your IT budget

Based on the offers you were made, the amount of business you can expect to do with this company in the future, and the resources available to you, you should have an idea of how much outsourcing will cost, contingency included. Of course, you also need to keep opportunity cost at the back of your mind as you proceed, always keeping an eye on your other options.

Step 6 - Perform Technical Business Reviews

It goes without saying that you should know the ins and outs of your company's technological aspects before you bring an outsider on board. This will save time and resources on both sides as the transition takes place. There's no better way to bring yourself up-to-speed with the finer points of the business than a formal technical review.

Based in Dublin, IT Force is a leading IT services supplier. The company provides solutions from general services management to outsourcing, virtualisation and cloud computing to businesses in the Irish capital and beyond. If you’re in the Dublin area and would like to find out more about this, contact IT Force, at 01 5546000 or by sending us an email to info@itforce.ie

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