Companies rely on IT for many aspects of their operations, which means it’s essential to keep systems running smoothly. But the costs of doing that can quickly mount up with support taking a substantial slice of the IT budget. Companies, therefore, are always looking for ways to reduce their support costs but without reducing effectiveness.
Meeting your needs
It’s important to recognise that every business is unique. Even though they may have IT systems in common with others, their needs and priorities are going to be different. Support can’t, therefore, take a one-size approach, it has to be tailored to the requirements of the business.
Using a third-party support service, you can opt to pay only for the services that your systems actually need. A good supplier will offer a degree of flexibility in their SLA so that it can be customised, giving you a higher level of support for equipment that’s most vital for the business. For example, some areas may need a response within hours where others may be able to wait until the next day.
Before you begin looking for an IT support supplier, it’s a good idea to first conduct an audit of your systems. Having accurate and current information about your IT assets and how they are configured means that suppliers can tailor their support quotes to your needs. If you don’t have an accurate picture of your systems then you could end up paying too much for your support.
Take into account when you need your systems too. If your business operates 24/7 then clearly your support needs will be different from those of a 9 to 5 operation.
When you buy new servers or desktop kit it is usually under warranty for the first year. After that, the original supplier may well offer you a support contract. However, what tends to happen is that after two or three years they will start to push up the support costs in order to encourage you to upgrade to newer kit.
If your equipment is still working and meeting your needs, you may find you can make savings by switching to a third-party support specialist. This will allow you to extend the life of the equipment and get a better return on your investment. This means that when you do decide to upgrade, you can do so on your own timetable, not one driven by support costs.
Desktop hardware is usually less critical than servers. You probably don’t, therefore, need the same level of service. Many companies choose to keep a spare machine or two that they can swap in to keep people working while they wait for a repair. This gives you greater flexibility and controls the cost of your support contract. The same applies to peripherals such as monitors and keyboards, a small investment in some extra kit can allow you to make savings elsewhere.
Of course, IT support isn’t just about the systems that you already have operating. You need to think about your requirements for installing new systems or upgrading existing ones. Or perhaps you’re moving to different premises and need to transfer your systems over.
For these tasks, you need to look for a supplier that can plan and design a network for you as well as handling the installation of the equipment. This means you’re looking at project management as well as technical skills. It also makes sense to look at using the same supplier for ongoing support as it means they will have a deeper understanding of your systems, since they were involved in setting them up.