Help4it agony uncle Phil answers your IT questions

How do you get the best IT support for your business?

Finding the best IT support company or sourcing the best IT consultant is crucial to run your business services that rely on technology. Whether you need a quick fix to an IT problem, or you need help planning for the future, these are the things to consider when on the lookout for IT help:

  1. Great personality – it takes a special kind of person to be a successful IT consultant. Make sure yours is friendly, approachable and patient.
  2. Transparency and accountability – IT pros that avoid jargon and provide regular feedback and detailed reporting are essential.
  3. Avoid ‘yes’ men – a consultancy that doesn’t tell you what’s best for your specific situation is not worth the hassle. If something’s not right for your business, don’t go with it.
  4. Local business – if you think you may ever need on-site IT staff, make sure your provider can spare the staff. This should be agreed in your contract.
  5. Qualifications – Your IT partners are just that: ‘partners’. As such they should have the credentials to support their worth to your business. Are they Microsoft partners like us? What is their security like for hosted applications?

Am I spending too much on technology?

It’s really easy for small businesses to purchase a host of small solutions that ultimately cost you more money and waste more time than a unified solution. It should be possible to find a solution that performs multiple functions, saving you time and money. For example, Office 365 gives businesses of all sizes applications that address not just word processing and data entry needs, but a whole host services: web hosting, collaboration, video conferencing and so on.

Particularly for startups, it’s tempting to spend too much money on technology in the beginning and then the company goes belly up. We always strive to give customers the support they need now as well as build a platform for growth.

Is it important to have a data security policy for my small business? 

We would recommend drawing up a security policy to tackle things like handling customer data. You could, of course, consult an organisation such as the Information Commissioner’s Office to find out exactly what you are required to do as a small business. 

If you have employees, it’s important to educate them on the various do’s and don’ts of accessing, transporting and disposing of sensitive data. A security policy should be taught to employees and presented to your customers where appropriate, so they are aware of how you handle their data and what you claim to be responsible for.

Do you have an IT dilemma? Feel free to email your questions to  matt.maltby@smarta.com and you may see your questions answered by help4IT's IT Agony Aunt Phil next month!

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