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Small Business Digest


Finding and Working with the Best Information Technology Services Partner

Smaller firms and even large corporations often find themselves struggling to keep pace with their basic web and computer support services and miss out on effective business IT solutions.

Without the guidance of an information technology services provider, small and even large businesses can end up wasting time and money on computer support services because they aren't in touch with the best technology tools and practices for IT solutions.

Even zero-employee companies can benefit immensely from a computer support services partner who shows them how to standardize their practices, save money with the right hardware or software and develop effective websites.

The approach often taken by small organizations when it comes to information technology services is one of putting out fires.

No one has time to update the website, the network is cobbled together with wiring strung across the floor, and you're not sure when the last backup really ran.

Then, a hard drive starts going click-click. The company calls that guy occasionally used for computer support services, "Joe-I-Fix-Anything-PCs," to get the computer booting.

That's when to the company’s horror they discover that the tape in the drive since last Tuesday wasn't really backing up and the click-click is the sickening sound of QuickBooks data being eaten by the dying hard drive.

There is a Better Way: A Solutions Partner for Web and Information Technology Services:

It isn't that "Joe" can't spot the company some quick computer support services and get things up and running again. It's the point that the "bargain" hard drive failed without warning, the data wasn't backed up and the company didn't even have a centralized data management practice to begin with. Wouldn't it have been great to avoid all the headaches by using best-practice guidelines for business management and making informed purchase decisions?

That's where a good  business IT solutions provider comes in, not only to avoid disaster but to save money.

For example QuickBooks could be integrated with shipping and credit card processing, which saves three employees 30 hours a week in order fulfillment.

Then the business might implement a web solution for online orders, which integrates with QuickBooks. A good information technology services partner makes computer support services a value proposition.

Small Business IT Solutions – Hiring a Partner 

So what's the best way to find a great web or information technology services partner to work with and then get the most out of that relationship?

  1. Look for a company that specializes in small business IT solutions.  Computer support services companies that specialize in small business will be more in tune to the company’s particular needs and challenges. They will understand budgetary constraints for computer support services and the need to use resources very efficiently. Because technology developers and manufacturers are now seeing a large and relatively untapped market of small business customers, there are some terrific tools emerging for small organizations. A technology partner focused on small business IT solutions and information technology services will help the company grow and succeed.
  2. Does the company need a local information technology services partner? Not necessarily. If the goal here is to find a provider of information technology services to help manage the website, make purchase decisions and facilitate projects, it doesn't have to be local.  With sophisticated remote tools and web-based collaboration, many problems and projects can be addressed. The key is to find a good fit. For onsite service such as network installation or hardware swaps, a good solutions partner can identify and schedule local computer support services as needed or works with a nationwide network experts for repairs, rollouts or other onsite computer support service. If the company isn't local, ask what provisions it has in place for onsite service.
  3. Personalized computer support services. One of the stigmas attached to the tech industry and a common complaint about providers of computer support services is lack of personalization. A good provider of information technology services wants to get to know the company, the processes and the employees. The staff should ask questions about what the company does and who the key contacts are to gain a feel for your organization's culture. Likewise, access to the provider's staff and resources is equally important. The relationship is going to be much more effective when that company has a mandate for personalized service and an open door to communications.
  4. Due diligence.  Companies should think of hiring a solutions partner for information technology services like they would hiring someone for a staff position. Look for a company that is seeking a long-term partnership. Ask for references. Then find out how long the company has been in business, who the company will have access to for a problem or project and how the provider charges for its computer support services.                                
  5. Cohesive approach and good facilitation.  The partner that the company should select should want to take a cohesive approach to understanding the business or organization and help come up with a customized plan for technology and web needs, be it a long-range strategy or a specific project. The difference between "Joe-I-Fix-Anything-PCs" and a provider of complete information technology services and solutions is someone who can do a good discovery about the organization and its goals, facilitate the project and help bring together providers for the components outside their expertise. Also, a one-stop shop can provide you with benefits.  Keeping hardware and software purchases, web and computer support services together can provide economies of scale combined with the convenience of single point of support and access to someone who knows the company.
  6. How to Get the Most Out of the Relationship  Identify key problems, goals and areas to improve efficiency.  Once a company partners with a provider of information technology services and solutions, the first and most important step is an analysis of problems. The more the business can communicate about the company, current practices and areas to improve, the more effective the solutions partner can be in coming up with a computer support services plan designed to keep things running smoothly, maximize assets and move the organization forward.                                                          
  7. Set up best practices.  Typically the biggest challenge small organizations face in being successful is getting out of their own way, seeing the big picture and making the changes necessary for improvements to happen. A good small business IT solutions partner can help the company set up best practices to get most out of the investment in information technology services. However, making sure those practices are implemented and followed rests squarely on the company’s shoulders, not on those of the computer support services provider.
  8. Avoid costly mistakes. Don't make impulse purchases.  Whereas large companies tend to have a formal evaluation and approval process in place for making technology purchases, many smaller organizations make impulse purchases. Let the company hired for information technology services do its job and provide its expertise on purchases. If the company resells hardware and software at competitive rates, purchasing from it can be worthwhile. The business will have a single point of purchase for computer support services, and the partner can recommend hardware and software from manufacturers it has partnerships with and expertise on as well. All of that translates to added benefit to you.
  9. Choose managed information technology services designed for business.                                                                        Small organizations have a tendency to operate off the cuff, looking for freebies or grabbing cheap services not really designed for business. This approach to information technology services can come back to bite the company. If the company wants to grow business, approach needs for computer support services like a bigger organization would.  If the IT partner makes recommendations on computer support services that the company thinks they can find cheaper elsewhere, take a hard look at what you are getting and how it can really benefit the business. Once the company weigh all the benefits, it may find the value to business growth and offerings far outweighs the cost.
  10. Can a company still do it on their own?  Working with a good provider of information technology services doesn't mean a company can't do anything on their own. In fact, a reputable and innovative IT company should educate the company on how to better manage technology needs and investments.  There are still a lot of day-to-day tasks the company can and should do within the organization, depending on skill level, time and desire. The point is to keep computer support services partner in the loop and use their expertise and input on major technology decisions.

By partnering with a provider of information technology services, a company will find a more thought out, comprehensive approach to small business IT solutions that can increase efficiency, save money, generate revenue, and help the business succeed.

Adapted from article by Ilene Rosoff, president and founder of The Launch Pad (



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