For any SME, survival during a global crisis requires astute management and clear thinking. To succeed, business owners must focus on their core business. Coping with reduced staffing levels and remote working calls for a re-evaluation of how the business operates.
In this article we look at not just survival but how IT supports business growth, even during a crisis. We examine the way IT service providers free up time to enable small businesses to get on with the things they are good at.
What Can IT Support Services for SMEs Provide?
When starting up a business, you might not realise the amount of information technology you will need to think about. It comes into everything – communications, marketing, sales, data management – and the way you handle these things dictates how successful you will be.
These are the kind of support services you may need:
- Technical support and help desk
- Backup and disaster recovery
- Ad-hoc support
- Internet services
- Server monitoring and maintenance
- Strategic ICT support
- Network design & installation
- Purchasing and procurement
- Anti-virus and malware protection
- Cloud computing
- Google apps and Office 365
Of course, you could do all of this yourself, or delegate it to somebody in your organisation who is good with computers. You may even set up a team to deal with all things technical, but all of this costs time and money and detracts from your core business.
The answer lies somewhere in between. By tailoring the support service to those things you need help with most you should avoid many of the pitfalls.
Technical Support and Help Desk or Ad-hoc Support?
Taking out an annual technical support contract will provide you with the comfort of knowing that help is at hand 24/7 as and when you need it, or you may get by using a one-off service to fix a particular problem.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
If a business does nothing else, it must at least put in place a system for backing up data. Without this, there is a chance that everything will be irretrievably lost, which could in turn cost you your business.
IT support services for SME’s can be a lifeline in this respect. By helping you set up an effective system of backing up, whether that is cloud-based or by using hard media, you can rest assured that if all goes wrong – which inevitably it will do at some point – you can retrieve your data and be back up and running in no time.
This is often overlooked when thinking about what ICT services you need help with because it is something you take for granted. Everybody has an ISP at home so it can’t be that difficult to source one for the business can it?
Well, finding a suitable broadband package that meets your specific needs is a little more difficult than you may think. You need to ensure the Service Level Agreement is right for you, that you are guaranteed continuous service with 24/7 back-up cover, that the speed is adequate and security measures are in place with firewalls and anti-spam, etc.
An IT service provider will help with this, setting you up with a contract you can feel at ease with.
Server Monitoring and Maintenance
Using an IT service provider will go a long way to ensuring that your server is always available for you by remotely monitoring it and adding security patches when necessary, and identifying potential security issues before they become a problem.
Strategic ICT Support, Network Design and Installation
Developing an ICT strategy is often low priority for an SME, especially start-ups. They simply want to get on with doing the things they set the business up for and provided they have the equipment in place to do that, they will worry about the other aspects later.
Big mistake! Having an ICT strategy in place gives the company a platform on which to build a business plan, to ensure that the business can operate as designed, and time and money is not wasted on unnecessary “bells and whistles”.
This is how IT supports business growth and why bringing in an IT service provider during the planning stage is probably one of the best moves you can make. Designing the network and installing the systems that fit your business needs can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Purchasing and Procurement
Because of their buying power, IT service providers can procure hardware and software at a much more competitive price than many small businesses, making this an important add-on to strategic ICT support.
Anti-Virus and Malware protection
Cyber-crime is a major threat these days and nobody is immune to attack. In 2019, almost a third of small businesses suffered security breaches or attacks according to official government statistics.
Almost half of these attacks were by phishing emails, but ransomware is now becoming a threat to even the smallest of businesses.
An experienced IT service provider will know what the current threats are and be able to defend against most of them, or at least limit the damage.
Cloud Computing, Google Apps and Office 365
Cloud computing is one of the greatest innovations of the last decade for SMEs because it has solved one of the major problems facing most businesses – how to store all the data collected and generated safely and securely.
There are various ways of doing this cheaply if not for free, but you may need some guidance on how Google can help with this, or how Microsoft Office 365 can increase productivity as well as providing cloud storage.
If this global crisis has taught us anything it is that we need to be lean and agile to succeed and grow as we move forward into 2021, and one way to achieve that is to outsource some of the services that are not core to the business.
IT support services are more vital now than ever before. If you currently manage all of your ICT in-house, ask yourself, are you really getting the most out of your systems?