Remote IT services may be one of the most important developments in the IT industry. For larger businesses, they can be a useful backfill for an in-house IT team. For SMEs and start-ups, they can be the only affordable option for running safe and effective IT systems. Here, Luke Watts, Technical Director at RoundWorks IT shares eight specific ways start-ups can benefit from remote IT services.
Most cybersecurity ultimately comes down to making sure that networks are properly maintained and effectively monitored. In general, none of this is particularly complicated. That said, it’s definitely preferable if the process is overseen by someone who knows what they’re doing.
For example, in general, you should apply upgrades and patches as quickly as you can. That said, anyone familiar with IT knows that sometimes upgrades and patches cause a lot more problems than they solve. For example, one infamous Windows 10 update left computers totally bricked.
It’s, therefore, generally advisable to research and, if possible, test, updates before you apply them. If there are issues with them, then you need to take a business decision on whether the greater risk is to apply the update or live without it. Specialist IT companies are far more likely to be able to understand and advise on these situations than the average SME.
On the whole, however, the single biggest advantage of using remote IT services for maintenance is that the maintenance actually gets done. It will be someone’s job to do it as opposed to someone’s responsibility to find some time to fit it in with everything else they have to do.
Managing network performance
Much the same comments apply to network performance as to cybersecurity. In fact, the two are closely interlinked. For example, if poor cybersecurity leaves your network open to a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service attack), then your network’s performance will suffer. Likewise, any issues which reduce your network performance could impact your security.
Reliable network connectivity is important for most companies today. It is often business-critical for startups as they are most likely to be dependent on cloud-based services. They are also very likely to use VoIP (and potentially Fax over IP) rather than traditional landlines (and faxes).
Dealing with ad hoc issues
The better you manage your systems (or have someone else manage them for you), the fewer problems you are likely to encounter. That said, no matter how well you manage your systems, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to encounter the occasional problem. This might not even be to do with your systems. It could be straightforward user error.
Whatever it is, it’s a blockage that needs to be resolved as quickly as possible, so that people can get on with their work. In simple terms, contacting a remote IT support provider is likely to be quicker, easier and, ultimately, more cost-effective than a start-up trying to solve the problem itself by searching the internet.
Liaising with vendors
This is an often-overlooked benefit of working with remote IT services. It can, however, be a very important one. Most companies, even start-ups are likely to use a wide variety of products and services from a wide variety of vendors. These products and services need to be managed and that can mean liaising with vendors.
Quite bluntly, it’s often quicker and easier for everyone if the relationship with these vendors is managed by a remote IT company. Its staff will actually know exactly what they’re talking about because they’ll be experts in the relevant area. In fact, they’ll probably talk with the vendor’s team regularly and may even have direct contact there and/or premium support packages.
Managing remote/mobile users
On a similar note, if you have remote and/or mobile users on your team, then it’s highly advisable to have their network usage (and general needs) managed by a proper remote IT team. These users can be particularly vulnerable. They can also be at particular risk of introducing vulnerabilities into your network.
This means that their network usage has to be managed with particular care. It may even be advisable to issue them with different equipment to office-based staff. For example, using Chromebooks could be a more secure (and convenient) option for them than using Windows PCs (and more affordable than Macs).
Proper remote IT services companies can generally handle different operating systems. They can also usually support mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones. Protecting and managing these devices is now at least as important as protecting and managing standard computers.
Offering out-of-hours support
There are two reasons why it’s helpful, in fact possibly essential, to have out-of-hours support. The first is that performing certain tasks during office hours can really slow down a network. Network updates and backups are obvious examples of this. Even if they are scheduled for “quiet times”, they can still get in the way of other essential tasks.
The second is that it ensures users can always get urgent help if they need it. There are probably going to be times when people come in early and/or stay late (or work from home) to complete urgent tasks. Having these derailed by IT problems could lead to serious issues.
Scaling up and down as needed
Startups, pretty much by definition, are companies that are likely to have a lot of growth ahead of them. That said, their growth isn’t likely to be linear. It will often come in fits and starts (for example after different funding rounds). Some of it will be permanent. Some of it will be temporary. Some of it will be cyclical.
In other words, startups are typically companies where change really is the only constant. This means that they need flexible services which can be scaled up and down easily, sometimes at very short notice. Remote IT support is perfect for this.
This is another benefit of remote IT services which is often overlooked. All actions taken by a remote IT services company are logged and tracked. They will generally be attached to SLAs. This means that clients always know what is being done on their behalf and in what timescales.