When you started your business, you used the technology you had available to get your baby off the ground: laptops from home, free accounting software, and a do-it-yourself website. These may be sound solutions to support the chaos of starting a business on a shoestring budget.
But what happens when your company starts to grow?
Many small business owners find themselves using the same stealth growth hacks for a business that has become mature.
And, if not resolved, this is the point where Information Technology (IT) problems can become major headaches and a threat to your growing business.
Around 20 users, most businesses hit critical mass and will need updated hardware and software, processes, and staff who don’t depend on Google searches for technical knowledge.
Putting Out Fires
Most small businesses run IT on a break/fix model. You have an managed IT problem, and you turn to the employee that knows the most about computers, printers or internet connections and have them fix it.
Or, you may have a small local vendor that comes out and solves your problem, and then is on his way.
But, as you take on more employees and have more users, these computer problems can increase exponentially. Things start breaking more frequently, increasing the downtime and productivity of your most valuable asset...your employees.
What happens is that you spend so much time putting out fires, that you don’t have time for fire prevention.
You may or may not have a list of things that you need to do with your IT system when you have time, but the problem you have is…….. you NEVER have any TIME to do them.
You know you need help, but where do you find it?
Hiring staff is usually the default, but rarely the solution.
There are many factors, but it’s usually a combination of high cost (when salary, taxes and benefits are considered), incomplete knowledge, and lack of availability (not always available when things break down) that make hiring an employee problematic.
What’s a business to do?
One solution is hiring an IT Managed Services company. Hiring the right IT managed services provider can take information technology off your worry list and let you put your focus where it needs to be………on future growth of your enterprise.
What is IT Managed Services?
IT Managed Service companies provide the solutions you need to move from a break/fix IT service model to a proactive IT model.
Managed services allow a business to outsource IT operations to a service provider. The managed service provider assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for the IT systems within a business.
When a printer malfunctions or a new employee needs an email address, you can open a help ticket and have a resolution within a few minutes. It may take more time than that for your employee to walk over to assess the problem.
Knowing that the problem is in capable, experienced hands, you can focus on running your business.
What can you expect from a qualified IT managed service provider?
Skills Needed for the Job – Today and Tomorrow
It would be difficult to find an employee that is well versed in system architecture, cyber security, and possess the time and patience to fix software and hardware issues. There just isn’t enough time in the day for one person to handle these diverse types of problems.
A qualified managed IT service provider will have multiple employees with different specialties. This means that there will be someone available with the skills you need, when you need them 24/7.
You get the benefit of an entire team of IT professionals at a fraction of the cost and headache of managing internal staff. Technology changes rapidly, a perfect fit for the job today may not have the skills you will need next year.
A qualified service provider will evaluate the technology that you have and design new IT solutions that will fit your needs and budget. The onboarding process will begin with an assessment of your system, looking at what works well and what must be replaced.
By strategically planning purchases, your provider can reorganize your hardware, software, phones, and mobile platforms into an IT infrastructure that will support your company’s future growth, while maximizing employee productivity and minimizing downtime.
A well-built technology platform delivers a measurable impact on your bottom line. New purchases will be investments in future growth, rather than patches to a crumbling system.
You save time and money.
Organization and Process Management
Many IT problems can be avoided by creating and following processes. A process can be as simple as knowing whom to call if you have no phone service.
Alternatively, it can be sophisticated enough to create a contingency plan for emergency data backup after a natural disaster.
A managed IT services provider will standardize your platform using industry best practices so that new technology can be added as your business grows.
Bandwidth needs will be predicted and planned for. Software updates will be thoroughly tested to ensure they work.
Your data will be secure, and if disaster does occur, your critical business systems will still function.
Advice for the Future
A true IT managed service company views being proactive as measuring if a customer’s IT is conforming to best practices, standards and alignment.
They will position themselves as a business partner, not just a vendor that is available to fix problems.
They will partner with you to develop a plan for the future.
Contracting with a managed service provider is a cost-effective way to incorporate current IT solutions and qualified staff into your business.
If you are managing 20 users or more, and are struggling to keep your system from destroying your business, it may be time hire an IT managed services company.