How to Choose an IT Support Service

by : Shaun Parker

In the last company I worked for, the business manager decided it was time to install a new web-based email system, just before she decided to leave the company. The new system was an improvement in terms of remote working, but it was not always apparent why this was the case; particularly to office-based staff who initially lost some of the functionality that helped their everyday work.

The ideal situation is where you have IT support that guides you through any changes: it's much harder to explain afterwards why you have made these types of change if there are "teething problems" to get through, and no facilitator to help.
Given that system-change is here to stay, it is more important than ever that you find the right sort of IT support.

If you're not able to justify having an in-house IT department, there are a number of features to look for in outside support services.
.advice and training on software that suits your budget
.help setting up email and internet access, including remote access where needed
.hosting and system management
.expert advice on protection from security threats such as computer viruses and other malicious software, as well ways to avoid the irritation of junk mail
.emergency backup and disaster recovery
.upgrades to your systems and software

As well as finding out whether the IT support service offers specialist training, other things that you may want to consider include whether your IT support service offers out-of-hours support and face-to-face backup. How long will your IT support staff take to get to you? Geographical location can be an important feature in terms of training and backup, and you can use a search engine to find a local provider.

When it comes to advice on installation and maintenance, you will need an IT support service that has expertise in the types of product that suit you best, and works in partnership with industry leaders in both software and hardware.

However, it can be a waste of your valuable time to become an expert on any of the above, so the key feature in any IT support service has to be willingness to be up front about what you'll need.

Accounting Software

You may already have an accounting software product, or you may just want to talk to someone about your accounting needs.

Your main option will be between a custom-made application that will require specialist support, and a generic product that may require complicated adaptations. In any case, your IT support service should be able to offer you advice.

Installation Support

Networking is a complicated business, and faulty networking will lead to serious problems down the line, whether it is installing a new printer or creating a new wireless network.

Your IT support service should offer you installation and networking support for desktop computers, laptops, graphics workstations, wireless access and network servers.

Once again, the important thing will be getting the information you need so you don't get your wires crossed.