How much do you rely on your IT services provider? It’s startling to think that a lot of small businesses outsource their IT (which is a good thing), only to get little to nothing out of that relationship.
Why is that?
Well, some businesses just aren’t proactive. They only rely on their IT services company when something goes horribly wrong. If there’s a network failure or their website gets hacked, they’ll make the call to their IT people, but that’s the extent of the relationship.
On the other side of the same coin, there are a lot of IT companies that wait around for that phone call. They don’t work with their clients as closely as they should. Both of these reasons are downright irresponsible.
First and foremost, business owners should work closely with their IT pros. They should have the staff and resources to not only address your IT emergencies but also to keep your business safe and secure to minimize those emergencies. Here are four things you should ask of your IT services provider.
“Keep my business safe!” Your IT company should make sure your network security, firewalls, malware protection, etc., are installed, operating and up-to-date. They should be working with you to do everything to keep your business’s data secure and make sure it can be restored in the rare event that data loss does occur. Keeping your customer data secure should be a top priority. Don’t take unnecessary risks, because when you do, the consequences can be devastating.
“Help me keep costs down!” You outsourced your IT to save money. Hiring an internal IT person or staff is a massive expense (plus, many small businesses simply don’t have the revenue to sustain IT personnel). However, your IT company should be working to maintain your network and associated hardware and software. They are there to help you avoid costly disasters like data loss or network downtime. If you do a lot of e-commerce, your IT company can be an invaluable asset. You literally pay them to save money.
“Help me stay proactive!” An experienced IT company can often spot an issue before it becomes an issue. They keep your network updated and maintained, and they can help you avoid unnecessary downtime. Working closely with your IT company means you aren’t skimping on security, and this alone puts you ahead of so many other businesses that do. And make sure you have an open line of communication between your business and your IT team, even if that means scheduling regular calls. You should regularly talk about security and know about the issues that may impact your business, whether it’s an equipment concern or a hacker threat. On top of that, tell your customers you care about the security of your business and their data. They will appreciate it – seriously!
“Keep my network up-to-date!” This covers a lot of ground. Your outsourced IT should be keeping your security updated, from your firewall to your malware protection, but they should also be keeping your network tech updated too. Hackers look for weaknesses in network tech every day – weak spots that allow them to capture data from your network. Sometimes they exploit the firmware, and sometimes it’s the hardware. Regardless, you should always rest assured that your IT company is doing everything they can within the budget you set to keep your network as updated as possible.
If your IT company isn’t doing any of these things, you need to get on the phone with them NOW! Don’t put your business at risk because you only make the call after the worst-case scenario has occurred. Waiting until something breaks is a dangerous – and costly – way to do business. It’s time to be proactive and get the most out of the relationship you have with your IT company.