Once your company has reached a certain size, it becomes common sense to invest in some form of IT support. However, choosing between reactive and pro-active support can be tricky. If you can’t decide between the two, then this guide should help.
Can you allow downtime?
One of the key questions that any firm should ask itself before investing in either kind of IT support is to ask itself whether it can afford to have much computer downtime in the event of a major issue occurring. For instance, an e-commerce company that relies solely on its website to generate revenue could lose out on thousands of pounds if their site went down for 24 hours (imagine how much Amazon would miss out on if this happened to them!), whereas a small company that uses its website only to advertise locally might not miss out at all.
Reactive IT support may mean that the firm has to wait for a few hours for the problem to be fixed, while undera proactive support arrangement, staff should be able to offer a solution quickly (and should prevent many problems from occurring at all).
How essential is it for you to upgrade?
One of the keys to pro-active IT support (and indeed pro-active approaches in any sector) is that it will ensure that your IT systems are upgraded routinely in order to ensure that they are capable and prepared for dealing with any problems before they arise. These upgrades are essential, just as upgrading anti-virus software ensures it is able to stay on top of the latest threats.
Essentially, a company needs to decide whether remaining at the cutting edge of IT is important to its operations. Again, this will largely depend on how reliant the company is on its computing systems: it’s not like a construction firm that only uses two computers for its admin will suffer too much if it doesn’t upgrade its server security for a year or two.
What is the company’s budget?
Whilst both pro-active and re-active support may be paid for on a retainer basis, the pro-active approach will typically cost more upfront, as you will be paying for software upgrades, ongoing consultancy, etc. Reactive support is likely to be less expensive initially, but the cost of removing any issues will subsequently be higher as a result. Essentially, it’s the same principle as obtaining cover on your boiler; if you pay a monthly fee in advance, it will cost nothing to have the unit repaired if it breaks down. Those without cover might not have any up-front costs, but they will probably have to pay through the nose just to call out a plumber!
How serious is IT to the core of your business?
As we’ve noted above, the main factor to consider is just how important IT is to your business. It’s worth remembering, though, that this isn’t necessarily a matter of how big your company is. For instance, two multinational companies could have drastically different levels of dependence on computing. An insurance company, for instance, will rely on servers and software to manage absolutely every aspect of their business, from employee HR to customer finances.
McDonalds, though, would keep on ticking over if their servers went down, as long as the tills were still working. A company which relies solely on computers needs to be able to make sure that problems are dealt with before they arrive, and can’t afford to go without their software for hours at a time. Therefore, they would be better served to invest in a pro-active approach. Needless to say, the reverse applies for companies that can still function without technology.
Finally, always consult a specialist
Unless you’re an expert in servers yourself, it’s absolutely essential to consult at least one expert before making any changes. Some areas of IT are a bit too detailed to try and deal with in-house! A specialist firm will be able to guide you through the backup process.
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Damian Coates advises business owners of their IT support options at Utilize. He’s generally a believer in the mantra ‘prevention is better than cure’ when it comes to data recovery but has a great deal of knowledge and experience in the field so is able to tailor packages to each client’s needs.