In today’s tech-driven economy, businesses, regardless of their size, require IT support in some capacity. Even though the resources which are available for small and medium-sized businesses might be fewer than larger corporations, they often have similar, if not the very same, IT needs as enterprises. Whether a company employs hundreds of workers or is a one-person-operation, the IT component of any business should improve operational capacities and help drive insight and growth rather than be a constant cause of concern. This is why identifying and utilizing the right IT solution provider is essential.
Placing the efficiency of an organization into the hands of someone else requires a great deal of trust and because of this, SMBs seek out key characteristics that allow them to determine whether an IT solution provider is compatible and suitable for their business. Here, we list several features which will boost the attractiveness of an IT solution provider.
Trait #1: Offer Flexible Levels of Support
Before an SMB can determine the type of IT support it requires, it usually considers its individual needs. Many IT solution providers offer various levels of assistance which allow for the tailoring of their services to meet the needs of any business. For example – a company may already have an IT tech-team or assistance in-house and need additional services for managing their cloud storage or upgrading software.
However, it is a best practice to encourage an SMB to factor in any plans they have for future growth. Most companies invest in IT as a way of boosting innovation and business development, which means that the more they encounter success and expansion, their needs will also change. The relationship they have with their IT solution provider will reflect that evolution and play an increasingly crucial role in their continued success. Working with clients to develop a strategy for advancement will not only prepare the solution provider for a larger contract down the road, but also help establish a concise plan of attack that builds trust and confidence in the mind of the SMB.
Trait #2: Be Familiar with Business-Critical Technology
One of the most crucial tools in any small or medium-sized business’s arsenal is their point of sale system. POS systems help track employee sales, customer purchases, inventory fluctuations and other details which are essential in running a successful business and defining ROI.
Although the specific components of a POS will depend on an individual business’ needs, all organizations must be able to rely on their IT solution provider to offer information, guidance, and services which allow them to use these point of sale systems as effectively as possible. This could require solution providers to have access to knowledge about barcode scanners, order customization capabilities, and even the latest updates in regards to EMV technology.
Trait #3: Be Knowledgeable & Experienced in the Latest Technologies
Most businesses expect that by outsourcing their IT support, they gain access to a greater knowledge base and enhanced skillset. Being able to offer an array of expertise from a number of technicians each with their own unique set of skills will enable IT solution providers to easily understand and offer insight on today’s latest technology. SMBs turn to their IT providers for recommendations on the issues impacting businesses today – cloud computing, cloud storage, BYOD concepts, and device crossover.
Assessing the knowledge of a solution provider may provoke an SMB to ask questions like:
- Which software can migrate across my computer system?
- Which is the most beneficial cloud structure?
- Should we host our own cloud or invest in infrastructure?
- Should our hosting be off-premise?
- Should we allow the use of personal devices within the company?
- Could our business benefit from the use of tablets or smartphone systems?
- How can we integrate technology into customer service, POS, business, or goals?
Trait #4: Combine Customer Service and Security Management
The almost consistent presence of significant security breaches at large companies such as Home Depot, Target, and Sony, has led many small and medium-sized businesses to feel anxious about their online safety and the security of their technology. As such, IT solutions providers must be able to help businesses come up with a crisis management plan to enhance safety through anti-virus, the adaptation of new software and hardware, and excellent customer service. Indeed, a sense of reliability, security, and help establishing those concepts within their own business may be one of the most crucial things an SMB could access from their IT provider.
In the end, there are numerous facets and considerations that go into the decision of which IT solution provider is the right choice for an SMB. Budget, need and timeliness all play into the discussion and can impact whether a provider is engaged for a short-term need or a long-term project. Staying up-to-date on current technological issues and offering flexible levels of support while acknowledging the importance of good customer service are all characteristics that SMBs look for in an IT solution provider.
This article was originally published online by Business Solutions Magazine and was written by Chris Nichols, Chief Evangelist at Field Nation.