Submitted by: Martin Straub
No matter the industry or size of your business, technology is likely an integral part of your daily operations – at a minimum you rely on it for tracking sales, completing payroll and other administrative activities. More likely it is also a strategic part of your operations – to track leads, donors, or manage your organization’s critical data and process.
Because of its important role, businesses typically have someone accountable for most IT decisions. For smaller organizations, this might be the business owner, the organization’s Executive Director, or the employee who fell into the role because they are most competent with computers. Unfortunately, such an approach often leads to undesirable results. Although the IT “works,” there are often hidden costs such as the lost time and productivity associated with taking on a role that isn’t necessarily their strength. (Imagine trying to take on a kitchen remodel with no knowledge of plumbing beyond fixing a leaking faucet!) Not only can this be frustrating, it also results in unproductive time reading countless reviews when new equipment or software is needed, trying to figure out which Googled solution might solve a current problem, and remembering the exact steps needed to add or remove user accounts after employee turnover. Additionally, the lack of deeper understanding of cyber threats also puts the organization at risk when networks and critical data or accounts aren’t properly secured.
As an organization matures, it is not uncommon to seek external IT assistance. This can often initially take the form of outsourcing to a student who has some IT knowledge or an “IT guy” who works independently from their home office. While this relieves the owner of the IT burden, often it leads to the same misinformed decisions. Alternatively, a business might grow to the point of deciding to hire a full or part-time “Network Admin.” Although this can be a satisfactory short-term solution, it also is often fraught with issues such as high salary expense, appropriate coverage when the IT person is away, dealing with turnover, and most critically, how to handle accountability when the Network Admin has the “keys to the castle.”
For these reasons, the best solution regardless of organization size is usually to contract with a “managed service provider,” or, in other words, an outsourced IT department. Every business can benefit from IT expertise. Just like you’d look to a CPA firm for your accounting and bookkeeping needs, a managed service provider is your trusted technology advisor. Although this may initially seem like an expense that your organization may not be able to afford, over time, the benefits of having an outside expert on your team should far outweigh the costs (and risks) of a DIY or internally-staffed approach.
As you begin your search for a managed service provider, there are a handful of considerations beyond price comparisons to help ensure you are finding a provider best suited for your organization. Some questions to ask include: their experience with industries / business similar to yours, support contract inclusions / exclusions, and most importantly, how they manage the support process. Size can be both an advantage and disadvantage – often users can feel “lost” when working with larger companies. Smaller support companies can give your team a more consistent “white glove” experience, ensuring that employees are working with someone familiar with them and your environment. Also be sure to ask about the range of services they offer. An experienced service provider should be able to handle all your IT and telephony needs and grow with your business, offering advice along the way for how to best invest and plan for the future.
If your business is looking for ways to maximize IT efficiency while reducing costs, we can help. Contact SimplePowerIT at (509) 433-7606 for a free initial consultation.
About the author:
Martin Straub has more than 20 years of experience developing, building, and maintaining frustration-free technology solutions. He founded SimplePowerIT in 2013 to focus exclusively on delivering frustration-free technology solutions to NCW businesses and nonprofits.