What to know before you hire a small business IT support company
The key to successful relationships between an IT managed services company and small business is communication. This means communication between your staff, key decision makers, and the team inside the IT support firm.
Communication and proper planning help set appropriate expectations for level of service.
One of the biggest indicators of the level of service and commitment an IT solutions company will provide is the onboarding process.
Before you hire an IT managed services firm, inquire about their onboarding process.
If they don’t include these key components, it’s a red flag.
5 Things Every IT Onboarding Process Should Include
Gather contact information for all authorized personnel
The first part of the onboarding process should be a who’s who of your business. This not only means in-person meetings to get to know your staff, it means getting the names and contact information for:
- IT Contact Point Person (often the office administrator)
- Anyone with special security authorizations
Gathering this information is not only important to keep in contact. Having the names and contact information of authorized personnel is important for security purposes.
The IT support firm should identify authorized personnel who have authority to make IT decisions. For each person they should have:
- Phone Number
- Security Pin (the IT support firm will designate this).
Establishing authorized contacts will ensure changes to your network are made with the proper thought and oversight.
Process for verifying identities of inbound callers
Once you’ve established who the authorized IT personnel will be, the IT support company should establish a set process for verifying identities via phone calls, chat support, or email.
Over 66% of small businesses fall victim to cyber attacks every year. Social engineering scams and spear phishing scams are very popular forms of cyber attacks on small businesses. In these attacks, malicious persons try to steal sensitive information by pretending to be a person of authority.
For this reason, both your IT support company and your business should establish and follow a process to verify the identities of inbound callers (or emailers) when sharing sensitive information. It is important to make sure the person on the other side is who they say they are.
- Custom security questions
- Email verification (have them spell out the email)
- Secret pin number
Identity verification is one technology security best practice all employees should know and follow.
Inventory all technology equipment, devices, and respective details
Your IT support company should conduct an inventory of every device and its important information, including:
- Serial numbers
- Device age
- Primary user (username and password)
- Warranty and expiration issue
A proper inventory of physical technology assets can help your managed services provider make cost-benefit decisions that will help your technology budget in the long run.
For example, say one of your laptops has a fan that sounds like it is cooling your car, not your computer.
With the proper information on hand, the IT support company can:
- Look up warranty information to see if it is under warranty and can be fixed
- Determine if there was a recall or a problem that can fix the problem for free
- Decide if the machine is just so old that it is better to replace it all together
Without this information, they might take a course that makes less sense. They might encourage you to replace it because they don’t know it can be fixed for less money.
Document vendor account numbers and authorizations
Technology related problems become more frustrating the longer they take to resolve.
Quicker resolutions are possible when the necessary information is properly on hand.
Part of the IT onboarding process should be building a master sheet of vendor account numbers and authorizations. Vendors might include your internet services company, property management company, your electric company, etc.
This information can be a huge help in the event of an internet or power outage or another emergency.
Notifications for expiration dates and renewal dates
Imagine that a prospect went to visit your website (the online face of your business) and was met with a page that said your domain has expired.
This is not only embarrassing; it is preventable.
Recording key expiration/renewal dates for things like your domain, website hosting, software licenses, SSL certificates, and more can prevent embarrassing gaffes or employee productivity from coming to a halt.
License codes and software purchase information records
Keeping software and your OS up to date is important for the security of your devices.
Documenting license codes and software information can make sure upgrades, patches, and re-installations are completed in a quick and legal fashion.
Skipping even one step is an onboarding red flag
If you are investing in a managed IT services company, a rushed onboarding process is a mistake that you cannot afford.
A thorough onboarding process is the key to protecting your business and solving problems when things go wrong. Quick resolutions and proper planning are important to controlling your IT costs and managing your investment.