IT services for small businesses

Questions to Ask Your Managed IT Service Provider

Successful business owners all possess a similar set of traits.

Aside from high-productivity and organisational skills, competitive edge and a strong business drive, small business owners must learn the value of outsourcing.

Outsourcing services comes with powerful benefits. Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of delegating to free their time to focus on doing what they do best – running a business and building a reputable brand.

Australia’s trend for outsourcing services is in high demand. If you’re looking to share the workload and leave your business’s IT services to the experts, it’s important to ask the right questions first. This will help ensure you have the best provider for your business needs.

By engaging in IT services, your provider works with you to increase business outcomes, without hiring new staff. Here are the top questions to ask your managed IT service provider before you decide to do business with them:


What Does Your Monthly Service Fee Include?

Find out exactly what’s provided in your service fee. This includes finding out what isn’t included.

Some managed IT service providers will offer a fixed-fee service. If additional work is needed, extra costs will likely be accumulated. Items that are generally included in an IT service agreement may include:

  • 24/7 help desk support: Remote help for workstation issues
  • Server support: Remote and onsite server support
  • Onsite repair: Although there will be limitations here, normal onsite repair such as repairing hardware failures and operating systems are usually included
  • Switch and firewall maintenance: Manage, monitor and support firewalls
  • Remote monitoring/management: Your account should be reported on and network systems managed accordingly

Disasters, major software upgrades, project work and replacing hardware is generally not included. However, every provider is different so it’s important to check.


Will You Create an IT Budget for Future Planning?

Businesses are designed to grow. As your small business booms, your technology needs change. You want to ensure your managed IT services grow with your business and costs are factored in for future planning.

A good provider will be able to offer advice and industry expertise to assist with yearly plans. They should provide money and time-saving tips, and improve efficiency on technology that’ll take your small business to the next level.


What Security is in Place to Protect My Business?

Small businesses are faced with a multitude of security threats. Client, budget, sales and other sensitive information must be thoroughly protected.

All managed IT providers will have physical and virtual safeguards to protect your business. They can provide backup services, network security and cloud and cybersecurity.

Additionally, your data must also be kept secure with your IT provider.


Do You Manage My Software and Domain Name Renewals?

Although some IT providers can manage your business software renewals, domain names are generally looked after by your web hosting company.


What is Your Data Breach Response Plan for My Business?

Data breach response plans are necessary for business risk management.

Your IT provider should work with you to prepare for a data breach. This document will be a viable plan of attack if your business gets hit by a breach or ransomware. If one occurred, the plan will identify the scope of the breach and limit it, to protect your business and clients.


How Often Do You Perform Reviews?

Health checks and budget reviews are performed annually by most IT providers. These offer a broad overview of your services, identifying any areas of concern and best practice standards.

Budget reviews are essential to keep in line with short and long-term business strategies. IT providers can help manage cash flow and technology costs. Smaller, less comprehensive reviews may be provided every three months, depending on your agreement and business needs.


Do You Have an IT Strategy to Suit My Growing Small Business?

As your business technology needs change, your provider will find the best solutions to adapt.

Think of it as your IT roadmap. This strategy will keep all key players in the loop for business growth and technology changes.

For small business owners, choosing to use a managed service provider is a smart decision. Without the expert knowledge to handle technology inefficiencies, your business can experience serious downtime. However, the right managed services can be cost-effective, productive and headache-saving.


Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson is a content writer in the small business industry who recommends Office Solutions IT, a Perth-based IT services and solutions company. You can catch her on Google+.

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