What Is IT Support And Why Do I Need It?

IT Support (often known as IT services or technical support) is a general term used to describe services that assist in the management, maintenance, and repair of business technology.

You may not currently have an internal IT person or an entire IT department – but whatever your current IT support looks like, maybe it’s not meeting your needs. In this article, we’ll answer the following questions to help you get a better idea of what IT support is and why you need it:

What Is IT Support?

IT Support (often known as IT services or technical support) is a general term used to describe services that assist in the management, maintenance, and repair of business technology. For many businesses, the cost of hiring even a single internal IT person is too expensive. They need a salary, training, benefits, vacation… it’s a lot to budget for.

How Much Does IT Support Cost?

Actual pricing ranges vary from one market to another – whether you’re in a major metropolitan area, or a smaller community will affect the price. But to give you a brief overview of what pricing ranges look like; here’s the breakdown:

  1. Flat-Rate: Monthly, quarterly, or annual fee depending on needs

  2. Per-User range: $125–$300 per month

  3. Per Device range: $5–$100 per month

Why Do I Need IT Support?

There are many reasons you might need IT support. You may be looking to eliminate complications resulting in a lack of in-house IT staff, outdated equipment, or issues with the internet connection. Alternatively, you may be looking to offload routine IT management, such as resetting passwords or applying patches.

Where Can I Find IT Support?

The most direct way to find IT support is to look in your local area. For instance, you can look up “[location IT support] into any search engine and get in touch with a provider. Alternatively, you can hire an IT support company you’ve heard good things about that works remotely so they can be based in any area.

What Services Should An IT Company Provide?

  • Cybersecurity

  • Infrastructure Administration

  • Helpdesk Support

  • Network Monitoring

  • Cloud Infrastructure

  • VoIP Communications

  • Data Backup

  • Disaster Recovery

  • Software As A Service

  • Mobile Device Management

When Should I Start Looking To Hire An IT Support Company?

Whether this is your first time paying for IT services, or you need to make the change from one IT company to another – if you’re encountering problems, it’s time to hire an IT support company. This may include an inability to work due to slow equipment, frequent high costs associated with quick fixes from local repair shops or any time technology is slowing down your operations.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the questions listed above.

What Is IT Support?

IT Support (often known as IT services or technical support) is a general term used to describe services that assist in the management, maintenance, and repair of business technology.

For many businesses, the cost of hiring even a single internal IT person is too expensive. They need a salary, training, benefits, vacation… it’s a lot to budget for.

By default, they have no other option than to outsource their IT support needs to a local Chicago IT company. Outsourced IT services have largely become the norm, with service levels varying depending on the Chicago IT company in question.

The type of outsourced IT support you’re likely most familiar with can be referred to as “hourly IT support”. This type of support fixes IT problems after they occur, and charges by the hour.

Managed IT Support is generally considered to be a more effective model. In practice, instead of waiting for something to go wrong and stepping in to correct it, an IT company in Chicago that provides Managed IT Support takes on all the responsibilities of a traditional in-house IT department. This means working to prevent issues from happening in the first place.

By definition, Managed IT Support is a set of best practices, processes, and tools that, when combined with technical knowledge and proper facilitation, delivers an ideal result for businesses.

How Much Does IT Support Cost?

Actual pricing ranges vary from one market to another – whether you’re in a major metropolitan area, or a smaller community will affect the price.

But to give you a brief overview of what pricing ranges look like; here’s the breakdown:

  1. Flat-Rate: Monthly, quarterly, or annual fee depending on needs
  2. Per-User range: $125–$300 per month
  3. Per Device range: $5–$100 per month

Why Do I Need IT Support?

1. IT Support Eliminates Support Complications

No one likes complications, of any kind – but IT is complicated all the same.

There are numerous reasons why this happens. It could be a lack of in-house IT staff, outdated equipment, or issues with the internet connection.

For the purposes of this example, let’s say you lack sufficient IT staff for an organization with less than 100 staff members.

Based on your calculations you estimate that you need (and can afford) one or two in-house IT staff members. Furthermore, you allow your more technically-inclined staff members to take on ad-hoc IT roles, but only when it’s vital.

This model for IT support simply isn’t easy to maintain alongside growth – a range of complications will soon crop up:

  • Your staff only has access to specific skills. Their current knowledge did not keep up with technology changes and updates.
  • As your staff doesn’t get ongoing training, they are likely to make critical mistakes, leading to additional IT issues and downtime.
  • In having to hire contractors in an emergency to solve errors, concerns or problems, you incur additional expenses.

IT support from a Chicago IT company eliminate all of these issues. By having a professional team take care of your IT systems, you don’t need to have your improperly trained staff do it for you, or hire additional services to fix problems when they become too severe.

2. IT Support Takes Daily IT Management Off Your Plate

Another primary driver for investing in IT support is offloading routine daily IT management tasks:

  • Patch management
  • Help Desk requests and ticketing
  • Adding, removing or changing users
  • Resetting passwords
  • Power cycling equipment

These tasks do not require a high level of skill but are a necessary part of daily IT management. Having to handle this on your own takes time out of your (or your employees’) workday.

Handling them improperly due to a lack of knowledge or capability only takes more time to deal with. Furthermore, it keeps your internal IT team from focusing on the long term projects.

Your IT manager or internal IT staff will tend to spend most of their time just “putting out fires” one after another.

As important as that is, the constant stream of requests, troubleshooting, and maintenance tasks can keep your IT personnel from tackling the larger goals you have for your business technology, including:

  • Developing comprehensive IT security measures and practices to keep you safe
  • Major projects, such as migrations, upgrades, and relocations
  • Replacing servers and other fundamental hardware
  • Moving application workloads to the cloud

Your internal IT team shouldn’t be focusing on “putting out fires”. They know your business better than an outsourced company ever will, and that’s why they should be tasked with your high-level projects and long-term goals. Leave the monitoring, maintenance, and lower-level support to your outsourced IT support.

3. IT Support Delivers New Technologies

The last example to consider is in how an IT company in Chicago can help businesses make the most of new technologies. Specifically? Migrating to a secure private cloud, instead of a simple public cloud.

Businesses often opt for public clouds for convenience rather than investing is secure private cloud infrastructure.

For the sake of this example, let’s say your business has over 100 employees. You weigh the pros and cons of transitioning to a secure private cloud in order to protect sensitive data. Instead, you opt to outsource to public clouds because it’s easier and cheaper.

This is where an IT company can help. Whereas anyone can learn to use consumer-level free cloud services like DropBox, harnessing the power of more secure private clouds isn’t as easy. An IT company will have the knowledge and expertise to help businesses configure and deploy a private cloud.

4. IT Support Reduces Costs

Reducing IT costs is one of the most appealing reasons businesses work with a Chicago IT company. Businesses that choose to outsource can convert unplanned IT expenses to fixed, predictable ones. This frees up capital for other aspects of their business.

Plus, it saves on hiring (and firing) in-house staff, paying benefits such as sick leave, health insurance, and social security. In addition, your IT company will be available 24/7, where in-house staff may take off due to personal issues or illness.

5. IT Support Allows You To Scale

As your business grows, your IT needs grow as well. Keep in mind that new service offerings often come with significant upgrades or new software. Your IT company can provide the flexibility you need to change your products/services or add new ones when required.

Where Can I Find IT Support?

There are two primary ways through which you should locate potential IT support companies:

  1. Local IT Support
    The most direct way to find IT support is to look in your local area.For example, you could Google “Chicago IT support” and get in touch with those providers that are closest to you. The benefit of this approach is that you know they’ll be nearby when you need something looked at.
  2. Remote IT Support
    The other approach is to hire an IT support company that can deliver services remotely. In this model, it doesn’t matter where they’re located – they could even be based outside of the state. All their support is delivered via remote monitoring tools that allow them to access your computers (when authorized) to fix problems.The benefit of this approach is that you can often get a better price because you’re part of a larger client base spread out across the country. However, by employing a remote IT support provider, you give up the convenience of having someone nearby in your city to take care of your IT problems.

What Services Should An IT Company Provide?

IT support plans can vary in different ways – service level guarantees, partnered vendors, specialties and certifications. However, no matter who you talk to, they should all offer the following:

  • Cybersecurity

Perhaps more than any other IT service that you could have managed, security is likely the most valuable. Unlike printers or communications, security requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance, all of which can best be delivered as a managed function.

Standard cybersecurity services include 24/7 monitoring and management of firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Your IT company will also respond to emergencies, performs security assessments and security audits, oversees patch management and upgrades.

Remember – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Right now, security is on everyone’s mind. Your IT company should have a comprehensive plan detailing how cybersecurity gets addressed.

Their processes must include:

  • Firewall settings
  • Intrusion detection
  • Intrusion prevention
  • Encryption at the file level
  • Service delivery specifications
  • Infrastructure Administration

All IT support needs to include basic server maintenance, network administration, storage maintenance, and typical network issues.

Your IT support should handle what you want to have accomplished with your network. Before meeting with the IT company, create your own requirements list, which will detail your current IT services needs and match the IT company’s agreement.

  • Helpdesk Support – On-Premises Or Remote?

Helpdesk Support is a standard service from IT companies. However, you’ll need to know if the managed services IT company is local or if they only provide remote support.

If your current IT services are cloud-based, then remote support should be acceptable. However, pay close attention to the hours of Helpdesk Support stated in the agreement. If it is not 24/7 support, then you need to inquire about how their support works (if at all) outside of business hours.

  • Network Monitoring

Every part of your IT system, including your network, needs to be covered under the service agreement. Control plays a critical role, especially when you consider how network vulnerabilities can disrupt your network.

Most solutions have the IT company monitoring every area of your system. However, you’ll want to ask them if they cover mobile devices, virtual machines, and remote users. Network monitoring must also include intrusion detection and prevention, along with firewall control and configuration.

  • Cloud Infrastructure

Moving to the cloud is as necessary as it is challenging.

With an IT company’s assistance, your team can harness the strategic advantages offered by the cloud — efficiency, agility, and scalability — without taking on any risks that come with a poorly planned and executed migration.

Your IT company can manage cloud infrastructure by standardizing interactions between cloud environments. It also allows greater control over specific services to outsource while achieving interoperable cloud infrastructure management between consumers and service providers.

  • Communications

Traditional phone systems are a thing of past. Landlines are expensive, rigid and inconvenient, which is why many businesses opt to modernize their services by merging them into a unified system. Modern communications solutions use cloud technology to make calls instead of a traditional phone line, granting you greater connectivity, more features, and reduced costs.

This service covers the merging of data, voice, and video on the same IP Network. Along with that comes a managed contact center. The center will combine two sections into one. On one side there are the traditional call center features. On the opposite side, is the intelligent IP call routing, integrating email, phone, web, IM, and fax.

  • Data Backup

When reviewing managed IT services agreements, always ask how your data gets backed up and stored. While you may have an on-premises physical backup and storage assets, the IT company may only use the cloud for that IT function.

This is why you’ll want to ask plenty of questions. If the IT company does use the cloud, you’ll want to know:

  • How secure is their cloud backup solution?
  • Is their backup hosted on a public or private cloud server?
  • If they use a public cloud, will they consider using a private cloud for your backups?
  • If your data won’t get backed up in the cloud, where are the backups getting stored?
  • Disaster Recovery Planning

Check the service agreement to make sure a disaster recovery plan comes standard. If it’s not mentioned in the agreement, ask to have it added.

A complete per location-dependent, disaster recovery plan, must be included in your IT support services. When disaster strikes, you want immediate access to your backups and a recovery plan that will get you back online quickly.

  • Software As A Service

Software as a Service (SaaS) is an alternative to traditional software purchase and installation. Instead of buying and deploying the software on-premises as usual, with SaaS, you rent the licenses and the software is hosted and delivered from an offsite location.

IT companies resell this service and assist with the integration of cloud and on-premises apps as a part of their support. SaaS helps organizations with analytics, implementation issues which include hardware, hosting services and software, for a predetermined and contractual time frame.

  • Mobile Device Management

It’s no surprise that mobile devices are continuing to become a central and necessary part of the business world. What might be surprising is how unprepared some businesses are for the process.

That’s why IT companies offer Mobile Device Management services, to assist organizations in allowing employees to use mobile devices for work, without creating security vulnerabilities or efficiency lags.

When Should I Start Looking To Hire An IT Support Company?

There are plenty of reasons to look for a better form of IT support.

Whether this is your first time paying for IT services, or you need to make the change from one IT company to another – if you’re encountering these problems, you need to do something about it:

  • You can’t work. Whether it’s a slow server that won’t let you access shared company files or a buggy email client that leaves you unsure whether your messages are actually being sent, when your computers aren’t working, you’re not working.
  • You’re paying for short-term fixes. Poorly maintained computers will often need quick fixes, handled by local repair shops for one-time fees. The problem is that while the hardware may work when you get it back from them, there’s no guarantee it’ll last for long. That means there’s no way of knowing how quickly you’ll have to go back to that same shop and pay for it to get fixed again.
  • Your customers are unhappy. If you can’t work as quickly or as effectively as you should be, it’s only a matter of time before that affects your customers’ experience. And there’s nothing worse than having to face an angry customer and tell them that it’s because your computers aren’t working right.
  • You can’t get in touch. A key oversight in the IT support process is how you make a support request in the first place.Does your IT company have a dedicated phone line for support requests? Or do you just get someone’s voicemail when you call?Do they have an online ticketing portal? Live support chat? Even a dedicated email? Or are you just sending an email to a general address? Communication is the foundation of the support process – if you can’t get in touch, then your problems won’t get fixed.

In short, IT support should handle all of your IT – management, maintenance, installation, planning, repair, and so on. Make sure you find an IT company that takes it all off your plate – so you can focus on what’s more important to you.

Like this article? Check out the following blogs to learn more:

Do Managed IT Services Cost More Than The Break/Fix Model?

Outsourcing IT Makes Sense for Small Businesses: 7 Reasons

Are You Prepared? Your 9 Step Local Business Disaster Recovery Plan