Many of us know the feeling: a computer or laptop crashes, bringing productivity to a standstill. If you’re lucky, you have a tech-savvy friend or hard-working employee who will go the extra mile to try to keep systems in working order. Or maybe you know an IT professional who is available to diagnose problems and resolve major issues.
The problem, though, is that when you REALLY need assistance — 4:00 PM on a Friday with a big deadline looming, say, or 8:00 AM on Monday when your inbox is full of important messages — that person may not be available to immediately react to your request for service. What then? Now you and your employees aren’t able to work while downtime affects productivity and decreases revenue.
Say you run a medical office with 20 employees that have an average salary of $50,000, an average yearly workload of 2,000 hours, and an average hourly rate of $25. Say your network is down for four hours and you can’t access email, software, or client records while you wait for IT help. Assuming that productivity is cut in half, if you multiply two hours of downtime at $25 an hour by 20 employees, you just paid your employees $1,000 to not perform their job duties. Add in the cost of that IT professional and it’s safe to say that your business is truly suffering.
If you’ve realized that it’s time to find a new IT provider, you’ve made an important step toward steadier operations and enhanced efficiency. But how do you protect your business while bringing on a new partner? How do you know if this new IT provider will maintain day-to-day operations and empower your employees to remain productive while the switch is happening? Maybe it’s better to stick with the lackluster support you know than risk everything on a fresh start.
But here’s the catch: in the long run, proactive IT services cost far less than reactive or break/fix services. Now, that doesn’t mean switching to a new IT provider isn’t stressful. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to switch your lawyer or your accountant — your IT provider should engender the same level of trust. If you’re considering a new partner, consider this:
1) Identify areas that demand immediate attention.
If you’re not backing up your data regularly (or your backup drive lives next to your computer), this critical need should be addressed first. Data loss can be devastating for a business, and many of the biggest cyber problems like malware and ransomware can be avoided with reliable, remote backups to ensure business continuity and stability of all devices.
2) Implement proactive 24/7 monitoring of your systems.
Does the IT service provider you’re considering specialize in a blend of proactive, preventative maintenance and around-the-clock monitoring? Does that provider have access to a Help Desk and Network Operations Center that utilizes the expertise of more than 800 knowledgeable technicians? If you’ve got an emergency, resources like these should be available to solve any problem in a timely manner.
3) Suggest services that fit your budget and your needs.
Proactive IT services provide better long-term value than reactive or break/fix services. But that doesn’t mean you don’t still have real budgetary constraints. Your IT provider should understand them and be able to identify an appropriate course of action that solves short-term problems within means you can afford.
4) Come up with long-term strategies for hardware, software, and support upgrades.
No IT provider should ever recommend services that you don’t need or try to push expensive new software and hardware on your business. They should, however, work with you to identify areas where technological upgrades can make your business run more smoothly, and then lay out a strategy to efficiently plan for and implement those upgrades across the coming months and/or years.
5) Listen, listen, listen.
This flows from each of the previous four points. An IT provider should serve as a trusted advisor that understands your overall business goals, hears out your concerns, asks questions about your technology needs, and focuses on ways to improve your productivity and profitability. Once you decide to upgrade your current IT situation, your new provider should also work closely with your old provider to collect all necessary information and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Most of all, a new IT partner should work to serve your needs — and make you feel at ease. As many CMIT business owners testify, the most rewarding part of bringing on a new client is when they reveal that the transition was so easy they wish they’d done it sooner. Ready to make a change and add value to your business? Contact CMIT Solutions today for more info. We worry about IT so you don’t have to.