When an SME hires an external IT company, they may expect that they will troubleshoot computer
crashes and deal with emergencies, but the potential of an external IT company is often underestimated. As well as keeping on top of current issues, IT firms can also help SMEs to move forwards, whether that is by installing brand-new software or keeping existing software drivers and firmware updated.
Once your computers are set up by your IT firm, that is not the end of their input. If things are not running smoothly, you can go back to them to get updates and investigate new options.
Microsoft released a Windows 10 update that bricked numerous PCs (and caused more minor problems with others). In some cases, the only way to get the PCs working again was to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch.
While this was an extreme example of an update going wrong, there is no shortage of examples of lower-level problems being caused by software updates and Microsoft is far from the only culprit here.
Similar comments apply to installing new software of any description. It may be an effective necessity, but the fact still remains that you only really know how it’s going to interact with your existing systems once you install it and let real users loose with it.
In short, upgrades and installs can be a real drain on your IT team, which is why it can be best to hand them over to external IT support or at least have external IT support provide assistance to your in-house IT team. There are 2 key areas in which this assistance could be particularly valuable:
Unlike many in-house staff, external IT support companies are likely to manage upgrades and new installs as part of their “bread and butter” work and so at the very least will probably have a much greater level of familiarity with what they entail as well as being able to justify a greater level of resource to support them.
Their reputation is on the line with each contract they take, so they are very motivated (and well-prepared) to learn the relevant details of each upgrade or new install before they get anywhere near your live systems.
As the old saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Even minor upgrades need to be supported by a roadmap that sets out who is expected to do what, where, when and, if necessary, how.
More complex upgrades and installations typically require more comprehensive roadmaps.
While creating such roadmaps may not, in itself, seem particularly difficult, the challenge often comes when you need to manage the people involved in the process, especially if it is in any way visible to end users. External IT support companies often have solid experience here and can be very helpful.
When your external IT support regularly works with particular items of software, they often have access to special offers only available to partners of the software manufacturers. Similarly, their expertise and familiarity with these systems frequently make fixes quick and easy, saving plenty of time (and therefore money) compared to getting in-house or temporary staff in to fix an unfamiliar problem.