Every business has IT challenges and each has their way of solving them. Many struggle to get through the challenges because they don’t have a formal process for dealing with them while others operate much more smoothly since their staff has easy access to the support they need. The coronavirus pandemic has only highlighted the need for a good IT support process in every small business. Is your current process meeting your needs? Let’s consider some of the processes that several of our customers had before they decided engaging us was a better way.
The “good with computers” employee
One problem with having your support needs to be met by an employee that is good with computers is a failure to appreciate that this is a professional field. The staff at IT companies like BL Technical Services are not just good with computers, they have years of continuous service and certifications in their field. If the “good with computers” employee were so well qualified, they would probably have a full-time IT career rather than being the bookkeeper, salesperson, etc. plus IT support for the company.
Putting that aside, companies that have this as their process allow their IT needs to be treated completely secondarily. The person who is most aware of your IT matters doesn’t really care about your IT; they’ve just been enlisted to handle it when something comes up. This will lead to a state of neglect and at some point, a cascading failure of systems and processes, lost productivity, and likely data loss.
The “good with computers” owner/operator
Much like the above employee, a business operator will treat IT matters secondarily when they are the primary one responsible for it. As long as it works, they just don’t think about it. It only matters when it becomes a crisis.
The operator of a business has more important things to do than to be brought into the routine challenges their employees face using information systems. The business, the quality of life of the operator, and the future prospects of the business all suffer when the operator is primarily responsible for IT matters. It cannot be stressed enough that just like with any other routine matter, the operator of a business needs to be able to disengage from it so they can focus and lead their company to growth and success.
Friend of Employee
Much like the handy employee, the friend treats the IT concerns secondarily, and probably cares even less about the business’ needs. Many times, these people aren’t compensated for their trouble. When they are, it’s usually not enough to motivate them to care.
They do this under pressure from their friend. It usually starts as a simple favor: “my work is having these problems” and the response “that’s easy, I can fix that!” From there, it evolves into them getting involved regularly. Many times the minor issues that arise that they don’t want to address right away pile up into a crisis. When this happens, everyone’s unhappy. Management at the business is unhappy that things aren’t working, the technical friend is unhappy that they are getting so much pressure from what should be considered a favor that they should be thanked for, and the entire staff’s productivity suffers from the lack of functionality. This situation usually evolves into the friend abandoning the company when they are most needed.
Most small businesses don’t have room in the budget for even one full-time IT support staffer. For those who do, they would still be better served by working with an IT support company like BL Technical.
Employees have the disadvantage of only working for the one organization. They are only exposed to the challenges of the company at and they become “siloed.” They have very little opportunity to interact with other professionals in their field and it reinforces bad practices. Most visible is the extended use of systems that have been long abandoned by their peers.
IT support is a high paying field and small businesses require a diverse set of skills to properly support them. According to Glassdoor.com, the average systems administrator salary in Maryland is almost $70,000 per year. Because of this, very few IT professionals would opt for part-time work.
There are certainly exceptions, but most people with this skill set would make other arrangements to address challenges in their personal lives so that they could continue working full time. This leads to the conclusion that most part-time IT employees are under-qualified. This conclusion has only been reinforced time and time again as we engage new companies and have to clean up what they have left behind.
Clearly if an organization has a qualified and adequately paid full-time systems administrator, they recognize the importance that IT has in their organization. However, many companies with just one IT support staffer are not paying them an adequate salary, and that employee is likely under-qualified as well. Even when they are qualified, there are significant holes in the support strategy.
The most visible challenge is how to operate when this individual is unavailable. They could be sick, on vacation, in a meeting, or otherwise unreachable. Unfortunately, the backup to this is usually an alternate “good with computers” employee.
The less apparent challenges are properly supervising this employee, recovering a grave error should one occur, terminating such an employee with control over critical resources, and the right an employee has to simply walk away from the job. These challenges are very serious and should be thought out by any organization that has or is considering having a full-time IT staffer.
Without hiring an entire IT department with no less than three members, there really can’t be a functional supervision strategy. Management will gauge the efficacy of the staffer just by the fact of only having an acceptable volume of IT troubles. They will have no capacity to review whether this individual is following best practices or to evaluate the health of the system themselves.
Management will believe that the IT staffer is a fine solution all the way until there is a cascading failure; and of course it’s possible that none will ever happen during their tenure. However, we have seen several cases of this. In one case, the IT staff didn’t correct the failed disk in the mirror, it was only noticed when the other disk in the mirror crashed, it was only at that point that they noticed that the backup hadn’t been working for several months. The company had lost the most recent several months of their files and other data. When this was all clear to the IT staff, they just quit, leaving the organization to scramble for a solution. Some companies wouldn’t recover from this situation.
Why BL Technical Services Is The Best Solution
BL Technical Services has observed all of these problems and has developed internal processes and structures to ensure that they are mitigated. Some of the benefits just come from being a well-respected growing business. A business like that cannot survive on dissatisfying customers. So many benefits alone come from the company having to maintain a good reputation. We are reliable, easy to reach, and motivated to do a good job.
The technical support team at BL Technical is constantly working on different systems at different companies. They do not get siloed because the diverse customer base forces them to be up to date with the latest challenges, problems, and solutions. The team works within a framework that efficiently receives, prioritizes, and responds to service events. Many of these service events are reported automatically through our monitoring system, allowing us to address them many times before they cause any disruption.
Our contracts are fixed-rate and require substantial notice from us if we wanted to terminate. This motivates us to be efficient, not only in quickly correcting issues but also doing them right the first time. More time spent does not lead to more money earned, so wasted time is only at our own detriment. Our 90-day notice of termination requirement means that we cannot leave you hanging if you do experience a dire IT support need.
We are seven technicians, and growing. The seven of us are constantly critiquing each others’ work. The leadership of the company cherishes the great reputation we have earned and ensures that every member of the team is doing what is best for the organizations that we support.
There are no lapses in service due to vacations or sick days. The staff members of BL Technical Services can pick up the slack when one or even multiple of our team is unable to work, preventing your company from feeling any impact of a sick day.
BL Technical brings their own solutions for added efficiency. We backup your computers, monitor them for issues before they become critical, automate correction of common challenges to reduce the potential for downtime.
Is Your Current Solution Working?
When considering your IT support strategy, ask whether it’s always available while you’re in operation, available for emergencies outside of normal hours, never goes on vacation, is never sick, is motivated to work efficiency and high quality, can’t disappear when you need it the most, and is insured for the worst situations they could cause.
If any of these are missing from your IT support strategy, contact us.