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Is your IT support company genuinely proactive?

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If you have ever been in the position of looking for a new IT support company, you will know what I mean when I say it is hard to tell IT companies in Birmingham apart from one another. It is just as hard to know if they are a good IT company.

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IT companies make the same claims

IT companies seem to make similar claims. For example, to provide proactive IT support.
But what does this mean? How do I find out whether it is true?

Let's start by understanding what good looks like. When it comes to proactive IT support, there are some questions you can ask to find out.


What is Good, Proactive IT Support?

There are many elements to genuine, proactive IT support. But, the critical components are:

Let's look at these in further detail.


24/7 Monitoring

Many IT companies will claim:

"We provide 24/7 monitoring of your systems so we can deal with problems before they cause disruption."

But this doesn't tell the whole story.

Does the IT company have staff working 24/7 to respond to alerts? If not, then their monitoring system might know your server is out of disk space, but, nobody will respond to the alert until they arrive at the office in the morning. By this time, your business might already be suffering the disruption they claim to prevent.

Ask your IT support company:

What happens if there is an issue with our systems outside of regular business hours?

Will someone know about the issue and work on it then, or will it have to wait until office hours?

Some IT support companies in Birmingham have monitoring systems staffed by engineers around the clock, so they really can deal with problems before they cause disruption.


Planning Ahead

In my Army days, they drummed it into us that 'proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.' This maxim has stayed with me, and my team frequently hear me repeating it to them. It is a crucial factor in delivering proactive IT support service.

When it comes to IT support, proper planning and preparation means:

  1. Understanding the business goals and challenges.
  2. Establishing IT goals that align with those business goals and challenges.
  3. Evaluating the current technology and security to identify potential risks.
  4. Identifying and proposing changes to both mitigate risks and achieve the IT goals.
  5. Prioritising those changes, establishing budgets, and preparing a roadmap for implementation over the next 1 to 3 years.

Some IT companies will tell you they give you a dedicated account manager who will carry out regular reviews. However, I often hear from companies that the same account managers have sales targets. So the primary reason for the review meeting is to sell more stuff. Selling you more products does not help you make technology a competitive advantage for your business, it makes the IT company more profitable.

Questions for your IT support company:

In this instance you should ask the following questions:

Is my account manager an IT person or a salesman?

Does my account manager get commission from my account?


Good Security

These days, with cyber-crime an ever-present threat to businesses, it's vital to have a proactive approach to security. 

Good security is not just about secure passwords, anti-virus software or keeping systems up-to-date. It requires thought and consideration to:

  • Understand the specific cybersecurity risks to your business.
  • Put in place adequate security controls to mitigate risks.

If your business supplies to larger, blue-chip organisations, it is increasingly common to require compliance with progressive cybersecurity standards. You cannot hope to meet these standards and prove your compliance within a short timeframe, so it is best to start preparing now. An excellent place to start is through Cyber Essentials certification.

Your IT support company must have its security properly buttoned-down, too. There have been well-publicised cyber-attacks against IT companies. Once those businesses were compromised, the attackers used the IT companies' remote support tools to attack their customers.

Your IT support company could be the biggest threat to your cybersecurity. So you need to make sure they follow good cybersecurity practices.

Ask your outsourced IT provider:

What security accreditations do they have?

Cyber Essentials is a must, preferably Cyber Essentials Plus. Even better are compliance with the IASME Governance Framework or ISO27001.

Also ask:

Can they help you to put Cyber Essentials, Cyber Essentials Plus,  IASME Governance Framework or ISO27001 standards in place for your business should you decide to go down that path?

An IT business that is not able to support you through security accreditation is a red flag.


Properly Prepared

So, there you have it. The three primary components of proactive IT support and the key questions to evaluate the proactiveness of your IT support company.

If you have any further questions, add them to the comments below or get in touch.


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