|Page (1) of 1 - 06/07/11||email article||print page|
Small companies have very definite challenges when it comes to handling tech support efficiently. First, the ownership is usually not very technical. They know the business they started, and they know that well, so when do they have time to learn technology?
For this reason, it’s hard for small businesses to really assess what they need. They usually only know if something is broken and not whether something is about to break. Most of the time, they don’t know what they don’t know.
Most small businesses have relied on what we call a “trunk slammer,” someone who will “work out of the trunk when I’m not doing my normal job.” This relationship is usually a “break-fix” relationship (i.e., when something breaks, they come out and fix it). In most cases, the trunk slammer procures the cheapest PCs for the customer, and many times we’ll see that the network has been set up in a haphazard fashion.
When to Outsource Tech Support
For very small businesses or “microbusinesses” (those with fewer than 10 personal computers), hiring an outsourced company to do everything is usually the best bet. As the business grows, let’s say to 50-plus computers, it may make fiscal sense for that company to hire a person to do helpdesk- or desktop-level work, while having the back office (i.e. servers, switches, firewalls, etc.) maintained by a reputable firm. Once a company moves over 200 users, in-house server administrators/network administrators can sometimes be necessary.
These are generalizations, but they are relatively accurate. There are some companies -- even quite sizable ones – that so firmly see IT simply as “overhead” that they will never invest the time or effort to hire a professional. In other cases, a company might be so technology-dependent and so progressive that it has to have a full IT staff, even though it has fewer than 50 employees. These companies usually hire the cream of the crop, along with very specific outside consulting skills, from a top-tier firm.
Speaking of a top-tier firm, what should you look for? In my opinion, a good support firm will consist of at least 20 people. It will have multiple engineers with varying skill sets, and each will be an expert in his or her own discipline. It will have CIO-type folks who can assist with IT strategy, project planning, risk analysis, etc.
How to Hire Your Own Support
When a company chooses to hire internally, one of the best things it can do is screen that employee very thoroughly, first from a personality perspective, and next from technical perspective. I’ve heard too many stories in which an internal IT person holds a company “hostage.” They never share admin-type passwords, they don’t document their work, and they make themselves very hard to terminate.
I’ve also seen some horrible mis-hires in my tenure in terms of technical skills. This is harder to spot, especially for a nontechnical person. Even a very technical person can be deceived. I had this happen to me once, which made me say “there has to be a better way.” We created a very technical hands-on lab that any candidate who comes to work for us has to complete. We offer our clients the same lab to have their possible candidates screened as well.
this blog? Connect with us @ITinsiderOnline
Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/yasick
Copyright (c) 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.>