Choosing an outsource tech support company to help solve the computer and networking issues of your small business is a little like interviewing a candidate for an employment position. Even though the candidate will be a separate entity, you have to first define the job you want them to do.
Why Outsource Tech Support?
As a small business owner you probably started off doing all the computer purchasing and printer setup and maybe even the first networking of two or more computers into a workgroup. That stuff was fun to do and it saved you money that you didn’t really have to spend. The trouble is that now it is taking time away from your primary reason for being in business. It may be time to outsource the work to a tech support company.
There are a lot of things you can do yourself but when it comes to crawling under desks to find which wire got kicked loose, or setting up a security appliance that is a little bit beyond your knowledge level, maybe it is time to outsource some of the work to professionals.
The main reasons that come to mind for using an outside tech support company are:
- They are experienced at doing the work and have the right tools so they can get it done faster.
- Even a small support company of a few techs has a wider base of experience and can make recommendations for ways to improve your processes.
- It frees you up for more important things like customer service and marketing. You need to be working on your business not on your computers.
What To Do First
Before calling Tech Support companies to interview, make a list of all current known issues in your existing system. Are any of the computers sluggish or showing occasional blue screens? Can everyone print to the correct printer? Is file access set properly? Do you have security issues or compliance requirements that need to be addressed? Are you sure every computer is being backed up properly (or at all)? Make a list.
Also, do a little brainstorming with your staff at the next company meeting to see what might be coming in the next year that would involve technology. For instance:
- Will you be adding staff?
- Are you planning for a remote office?
- Do you allowing employees to work from home?
- Will you be adding software such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or a new accounting system?
- Will you be adding new mobile hardware such as tablets and laptops? Add these things to your list.
Before you call potential technical support service providers for an interview, make sure you do some research about the companies. Here is information you can probably get from their web site.
- How long have they been in business?
- How many technicians are on staff and are they certified by Microsoft, Apple or CompTIA?
- Do they have Partnership status with either Microsoft or Apple and at what level? Microsoft has several levels of partnership based upon number of staff and the credentials they hold.
- Check on reviews and testimonials. These are usually on their web site and places like Google Plus, Yelp, bbb.com, etc.
Select Like You Would Select and Employee
We have a large technology company near where I live that is currently laying off large numbers of their technical staff. This happens now and then as the economy changes. When it happens, there are a large number of the unemployed who become Computer Support Companies over night. This is not bad. Sometimes it works out just fine. I have a friend, though, who has been in the tech support business about as long as I was that calls them “trunk slammers”. That’s because they keep their entire business (tools, books, parts, etc.) in the trunk of their personal car. Again, they have to start somewhere and sometimes it is the start of a very successful support business. Just be aware and check for credentials and how long they have been in business.
Be Sure Everyone Knows What is Expected
If you read my article on How to Protect Your Critical Network Information you know that your technology and the information about your technology belongs to you. Be sure that everyone at the outsource tech support company knows that your technical information needs to be kept up to date and it needs to be kept at your business location. They can have a copy if needed but the master stays with you.
Get a “consulting agreement” between your company and the Outsource Tech Support company. It should include requirements for security and privacy policies. The support company will have access to sensitive information and they should follow your company policies on security. Your “password policy” should be followed by all employees of the support company as well.
Follow these tips and get the best Outsource Tech Support company.
Do you have experiences with outsource tech companies. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and start a discussion.