If you run a small business, outsourcing your IT needs is probably your most cost-effective means of supporting your computer systems. Even if you’re personally qualified to maintain the systems yourself, your time is likely much better spent running your business rather than monitoring backups and troubleshooting buggy desktops.
And of course if something really goes wrong, you’re going to want to have a professional that you know and trust to come to the rescue.
I provide computer consulting services to New York based small businesses. It’s a highly competitive market with a wide variety of IT Service providers, ranging from the Independent Consultant who serves a limited, but loyal customer base, to large firms supporting hundreds of local businesses.
A small business in need of a qualified computer consulting firm has several criteria in which to measure their potential future provider. Gone are the days where you simply wait for the computer to break and then call in the computer consultant to perform the repair at an hourly rate. This reactive support model is inefficient and very ineffective at keeping the systems operating at peak performance.
To get the most out of your IT Maintenance budget, the best approach is to be proactive and try to prevent problems from happening in the first place. If your Computer Consulting firm is operating under the correct Managed Service Provider (MSP) business model, your ultimate support costs should be approximately the same as if you were paying for hourly, reactive support, yet your performance levels and system reliability should be much higher.
The things you should be looking for in a computer consulting firm are:
1. Network Monitoring – By installing a small application on your server, your computer consultant should be able to monitor all of the critical components of your network, including:
- AntiVirus updates and activity investigation
- Backup status
- System Event Log alerts and errors
- Security status – are unauthorized users trying to enter the system
- Drive space
- Processor and memory utilization and possible bottlenecks
- Website and communication status – know immediately if a service fails
Many of the monitoring utilities in use today are web-based, which could allow you to monitor the network right alongside your computer consultant. Keeping an eye on your own network’s health status is a good way to remain apprised of any issues and to keep tabs on your consultant if need be.
2. Remote Computer Support – Your computer consultant should be able to log into your systems (both the server and your user’s desktops) remotely to address problems as they arise. With remote connectivity, your consultant could potentially provide support even faster than an in-house Network Administrator could.