IT Support is an emotive issue in many businesses. The problem is that many business owners are not IT experts … nor should they be. But finding an IT support company that will support you when you need it and knows and understands the technology and software that is needed to run your business can be difficult. The last thing you want to do is find that you are paying for someone to learn about your operating system or the application that is critical to your business when what you thought you were getting was support from a knowledgeable expert.
Some IT support companies charge a monthly ‘retainer’ and expect you to buy a number of ‘hours’ of support in advance. In the digital age this really shouldn’t happen! A good and responsible IT support company will only charge you for the time that they spend supporting you. If, for example, you use only PCs and you run them on Windows 10, most IT support companies should be able to support you. It is then a question of how do you engage with them. Ask around, talk to your peers, but whatever you do, don’t get tied into a contract that requires a retainer and the purchase of time in advance. There really is no need. Consider the hourly rate too. Ad hoc IT support is usually a really good way of buying support, unless you and your business are heavily reliant on technology. It might cost around £75 to £95 per hour but reasonable IT support companies will charge in segments of around 15 minutes. The only risk to you is if you start to encounter regular IT problems because the hours could start mounting up. If that is the case though, consider changing the service you are purchasing – most good IT support companies will accommodate changes.
A full managed support service will cost more. Usually upwards of £300 per month, but the advantage of this is that you can budget it. That cost should include some hours of support, albeit this will always be remote support … to send an IT engineer out to you is always going to be expensive! If your IT environment is a little different – you run a mixture of PCs and Macs and have some specialist applications that are critical to your business – then a full managed support service is more for you. Be careful though and make sure that the support company you select invests a bit of upfront time and learns about your environment, your applications and your operating systems at their cost before you contract with them. Don’t get caught out – IT support is often seen as a bit of a cash cow by some of the less scrupulous companies out there. Always check what you will get before you sign and, even more importantly, make sure you understand how you get out of any agreement if you find it doesn’t suit you well.