Does My Business Need External IT Support? How Do I Decide?
If you are considering external IT support, you likely have a lot of questions running through your mind. After all, it’s a big decision and there are a lot of things to consider.
Before you even begin to evaluate your options for external support, you need to ask yourself some questions so you have a firm grasp on the value that support will provide to your organization.
In this article, we’ll walk through 15 questions you must ask yourself when making this important decision.
After reading this article, you’ll be well prepared to decide whether you need external support to keep your data, devices, and infrastructure safe, available, and efficient.
15 Questions To Ask When Considering External IT Support For Your Business
No matter the size of your business, every IT infrastructure needs the same elements of care, just on a different scale. Here are the questions to ask to ensure that you have everything you need:
1. Do we perform ongoing monitoring and maintenance of all devices and systems?
Proactive and constant monitoring of devices and systems operating across your infrastructure is the only way to know if an unauthorized user has gained access or when something turns malicious.
Effective infrastructure monitoring includes host, network, and system monitoring. These three types of monitoring work together to keep your network safe.
By collecting and reviewing information about what is going on in your environment, you will have early notice of anything strange ranging from performance issues to odd behavior, slow processing to security-related issues.
2. Do we have the latest versions of software and applications running on our devices and servers?
Developers issue updates to address performance and security issues. Installing these updates keeps your devices, systems, and data safe.
3. Are our security protocols up to date?
Cyber threats are constantly evolving. The only way to stay ahead of cyber threats is to ensure that your security protocols are best-in-class. Review and update your security protocols on a regular basis.
4. Do we have long-term technology projects that we aren’t getting to?
Some small and medium-sized businesses have an internal IT person or group. This small internal staff is often effective at handling the immediate service needs of users, but many times doesn’t have the time needed to address long-term IT projects.
5. Do we have a strategic IT plan that mirrors our business strategy and goals?
Many times, an internal IT staff isn’t informed about the overall business strategy and goals. This puts them in a position of being reactive rather than proactive. When the IT team is aware of business goals, they can prepare for upcoming surges in business or staffing fluctuations, mergers and acquisitions, or other changes that could affect the infrastructure.
Related article: Align Your IT And Business Strategy: Why IT Matters, How To Do It
6. Do we experience delays when accessing systems or programs?
Slow load times or other delays can indicate that there is something amiss within your infrastructure.
It could mean that your bandwidth is no longer enough to support the amount of traffic flowing internally and externally. For example, if you’ve installed a voice over internet protocol (or VoIP) phone system and your workforce is now primarily remote, the demands on your infrastructure have grown significantly.
Or maybe your devices are older and unable to take advantage of improvements available on newer models.
Or it could mean that malware is laying dormant in your environment that you don’t even know is there.
7. Do we have difficulty planning and sticking to our IT budget?
When your IT is reactive, it can be difficult to plan, budget, and schedule IT support. Some providers offer proactive IT support that includes strategic planning and budgeting, so there are no surprises.
8. Do we know the age of all infrastructure equipment and devices?
Knowing this information will make it possible to develop a systematic plan for replacing, recycling, and retiring equipment and devices that are reaching the end of support or end of life.
9. Do we know where our switches and access points are located and their age?
It’s important to know the location and age of switches and access points. This information will help your provider understand how well these devices are working to support your infrastructure and whether any of them need to be replaced.
10. Does someone manage our licenses? Do we know how many we have and how many we are using?
If you don’t know how many licenses you are paying for and how many you are using, there is a chance that you are paying for too many or about to need more.
Related article: What Do I Need To Know About Software Licenses?
11. Does our internal IT team respond to requests in a timely manner?
Slow response time can indicate that your technology staff is maxed out and needs support.
12. Do we have all the skills internally that we need to manage our infrastructure?
As mentioned earlier, every infrastructure, no matter the size or complexity, needs the same elements of care.
A small team can have difficulty staying on top of cybersecurity, compliance, regulatory issues, strategic planning, business continuity and disaster recovery planning, daily service requests, and other key elements of infrastructure care your technology requires.
13. Do we routinely back up our data? Do we know how often and how long it is stored? Do we know how to access the backups?
Just backing up your data isn’t enough. It’s important to understand how often a full back up is performed and how long it is stored. You also need to know how to access the backups so that you can restore operations to a previous state if a cyber incident occurs.
Related article: Data Backups Are Key To Disaster Recovery
14. Do we provide security awareness training for all employees?
Security awareness training is one of the most frequently overlooked and most cost-effective ways to keep security top of mind for all employees. Experts report that up to 95 percent of cyber incidents are the result of human error, making this an important part of your overall security efforts.
Related article: What Is Employee Security Awareness Training? Do I Need It?
15. Do we understand the regulatory and compliance requirements of our contracts and are we positioned to meet or exceed the requirements?
Frameworks like NIST 800-171 and CMMC 2.0 are important ways to measure your organization's compliance with regulatory and contractual requirements. Small internal technology groups can struggle to implement these frameworks on top of the everyday challenges they face.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Now that you’ve read this article, you know the questions to ask to determine whether you need external IT support.
At this point you may be ready to learn your options for external IT support.
If you decide to explore external IT partners, I encourage you to explore several options, so you get a provider that is the right fit for your organization. In fact, we take this advice so seriously that we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Read this article to see how Kelser measures up to our competitor The Walker Group. Or visit the Kelser Learning Center to read more comparison articles.
And, before you begin evaluating prospective providers, learn that 10 best questions to ask any IT provider.
Wonder what external IT support costs? Here are some of the hidden IT support costs you should know.
If thinking about external IT support has you feeling overwhelmed and you just want to talk to a human, click the button below and one of our IT support specialists will reach out to learn more about your business, your goals, and your technology pain points.