Running every aspect of your business to the standard you need can be difficult when you have a small team, or are expanding quickly. For this reason, seeking out areas where you can outsource things to more equipped third party companies makes a lot of sense. IT support can often be a prime area for outsourcing, because whether it is your own staff or your customers who need tech support, they need it at levels it can be hard to predict and staff for. It can also be near impossible to have all of the skills of a good technical support team in house and available whenever people need them, or the infrastructure to properly manage support issues.
If you have decided on using an external company for your IT support, then you’ll need to start seeking out likely candidates to use. Once you are in talks about support contracts, it is important to ensure that everything is discussed and agreed in a way that will give you the service you need at the expected price, so there are no surprises later on.
Here are some of the most important things to consider in your IT support contract.
Some businesses need their technical support to be available around the clock. If you have mission critical systems and staff working at all different times, or a very large customer base, a web-based timesheet portal can be worth considering. Other businesses can get by with support only during business hours, which is of course cheaper. You should have a fair idea which camp your business is in, but consider exceptions. Does your chosen company have the ability to offer people on call outside of the contractual hours for an extra fee, for example? Can you have business hours, but include Saturdays? You can often get a bespoke availability plan, but you need to consider your needs.
A lot of IT support companies use offshore resources, or a mixture of onshore and offshore teams. This can be a good thing as it keeps costs down while still ensuring highly skilled people deal with your support, but it is good to know exactly which areas of your contract will be handled by people out of the country. If you don’t mind where the technical support staff are based, you may still want people in your time zone and country managing the admin and management so it is easier to deal with any problems that arise beyond tech support issues, for example. Some people prefer a fully UK based company, for various reasons, but should not assume that a ‘.co.uk’ company does not use offshore teams unless you have spoken about this with them.
Another important thing to hammer out is what is not included in your contract. If something is not included that you may need in future, find out how much it will cost to add it on, and then you can include this in forecasting for future growth.
Taking the time to really refine your IT support contract so you are completely sure of what to expect will make working with your service provider a far smoother experience.