The Guide to Working with an
Are you considering working with an IT company? Or, are you wondering if your current IT company is providing you with the high level of service your business needs?
Evaluating IT companies can be challenging, but it’s essential, too. Your IT is what makes your business run. It shouldn’t be a weight – it should be a win.
At Complete Network, we’re an award-winning IT company with offices in Charlotte, NC, and Albany, NY. We provide businesses with an IT advantage via strategic support services that are designed to help mid-size firms thrive through technology.
Our offerings include:
- Helpdesk support
- Onsite support
- Virtual Chief Information Officer consulting
- Proactive monitoring
- Disaster recovery solutions
- Cybersecurity services
- Cloud services
…And more, with engagements crafted to the needs of your business. If you’re ready to get started with an industry-leading IT company, let’s schedule a free consult today. (You can learn more about our methodology and engagement models here.)
If you’d like to learn more about what to look for in an IT company as you consider your next steps, read on. We’ve created this page to offer insight and answers toward some of the most common considerations in working with an IT company.
We’ll answer questions like:
- What does an IT company do?
- What service models do IT companies offer?
- What makes a high-quality IT company?
- How does working with an IT company protect your business?
- When should you outsource to an IT company?
- How do IT companies offer strategy?
- What is the process of working with an IT company like?
- How can my business get started with an IT company?
Ready? Let’s dig in. Here’s the guide to working with an IT company.
What does an IT company do?
To begin, let’s start with the basics. What does an IT company do?
This question can be answered in a few ways. Maybe the most basic answer is this: An IT company helps to ensure your technology is working the way you need it to be.
At a more granular level, that generally involves services like:
- Fixing immediate issues
- Proactively addressing future issues
- Planning for technology improvements
- Implementing new technologies
- Managing systems on an ongoing basis
Most IT companies do most of these things, although some companies focus more on certain areas (such as issue response or technology consulting).
What Service Models Do IT Companies Offer?
So, that’s what an IT company does. But there are many ways that IT companies can provide those services. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common service models to help you evaluate your options.
The Break-Fix Model
High-level overview: This model is good for budget-conscious small businesses but doesn’t incorporate strategy and can lead to fluctuations in cost.
“Break-fix” is the oldest model of IT support. When an IT system or applications stops functioning correctly, you call a service provider who sends a technician onsite to your location to repair it. Their work is limited in scope to the one affected system, and they send you a bill for the hours they spent on the task.
While the straightforwardness of this arrangement may seem appealing, there are several serious downsides to the break-fix model.
Misalignment between the provider and business. The break-fix provider only makes money when your network is down, which could incentivize them to use the highest possible number of billable hours to fix your systems, or even do a shoddy job on the repair so as to necessitate more business in the future.
Unpredictable costs. In the event of an IT catastrophe, like a ransomware attack or a data breach, the break-fix model opens your business up to a sudden, large IT support bill. Even if disaster doesn’t strike, the man-hour cost of an ambitious IT project, like a server or application migration, could easily cost thousands of dollars.
Reactive support that inevitably leads to downtime. Break-fix is entirely reactive. Reactive support keeps businesses on the back foot and is a poor foundation for an organization that values their technology or requires stable IT infrastructure.
This break-fix model is popular with small businesses that either don’t rely on their IT systems or are budget conscious in the extreme. Most businesses, though, are moving away from this model.
The Co-Managed IT Support Model
High-level overview: This model is good for mid-to-large businesses that want the advantages of internal staff, but also need to augment capabilities or add consistency.
Under this model, your business works with an IT company who provides outsourced service to augment the capabilities of an internal IT staff. In some cases, the IT company may even help hire internal IT personnel with the right skills to effectively complement their services.
By combining the benefits of outsourced IT services with an internal staff, co-managed IT has become a preferred choice for many mid-sized companies that need both onsite staff and the assuredness and consistency that come with outsourcing. It gives your IT team a backstop against sudden or unmanageable problems.
The Managed IT Services Model
High-level overview: This model is the preferred service engagement for most businesses. It aligns the incentives of your IT company with the goals of your business.
The managed IT service model provides businesses with a team of IT engineers that proactively monitors, manages, and maintains their business technology. Armed with a specialized set of systems and processes, a managed IT service provider (MSP) performs most core support and maintenance work remotely, giving businesses an unobtrusive and transparent path to optimized network uptime and availability.
Our belief is that the MSP model is the most effective structure for an IT company to deliver services under. It provides optimal business-technology alignment, allowing 46 percent of businesses to save 25% of their IT budget after adopting managed services.
What Makes a High-Quality IT Company?
With those service models covered, let’s turn our focus to a common question that businesses face in searching for IT support: What makes an IT company a high-quality provider?
Based on our experience, the following three criteria can be used to assess the quality of an IT company.
A quality IT company is proactive.
For some businesses, IT support means fixing problems after they appear, but that’s not an optimal approach. The reason is that, once you’re experiencing IT troubles, your business has already started to lose valuable man-hours. This downtime is costly and damaging to morale.
Instead of reactive IT support, IT companies should focus efforts on proactively fixing chronic issues, finding and mitigating new issues before they cause work disruptions, and actively avoiding future problems with solid planning.
A quality IT company empowers fast and efficient mitigation of day-to-day IT problems.
One of the central roles of any IT company is in helping employees navigate the daily IT issues that can ruin an otherwise productive workday.
This may include things like:
- Recovering forgotten passwords and user access problems
- Fixing frozen or slow applications and computers
- Resolving Wi-Fi problems and network issues
- Restoring deleted or misplaced data
The best IT companies offer consistent, rapid support. Often, this is done through help desk access, via chat, email, and telephone. The bottom line is that, if you work with a high-quality company, your team should never feel alone when facing an IT issue.
A quality IT company measures up.
One of simple metrics that’s helpful in judging the quality of support that an IT company offers is called network uptime, or the proportion of time that a business network and all its systems are fully functional and available for use. Its opposite, network downtime, can also be used to measure the overall quality of an IT support program. The more network downtime you experience, the more urgently you need to re-evaluate your IT support processes.
There are many other metrics and standards you can use to judge the quality of your IT support:
- The speed at which IT support tickets (a ticket represents a single issue) get resolved
- The number of IT support tickets that are resolved on the first call
- The level of satisfaction your staff feels about your IT support processes
- The average cost of resolving a support ticket
Ask your IT company (or the company you’re evaluating) how they measure up to competitors on these metrics.
How Does Working with an IT Company Protect Your Business?
In today’s day and age, one of the biggest reasons that businesses choose to work with an IT company is for the peace of mind that the service brings. Working with an IT company can reduce cybersecurity risk and protect your business.
There are a variety of ways IT companies offer protection, but, for the most part, they boil down to these three things.
1. IT companies can harden your systems.
There are a variety of strategies and tactics that IT companies can implement to make your technology systems more secure.
They might deploy antivirus or antispam software. They might implement automated network monitoring to identify and halt malicious activity. They might set up a SOC (security operations center) to bring security to the next level.
The exact solutions will depend on your business’s needs, but, in general, your IT company certainly has a role to play in hardening your systems.
2. IT companies can implement disaster recovery and business continuity solutions.
In addition to increasing the security of your systems themselves, though, IT companies can also implement solutions that will mitigate the risk of damage in the wake of a cybersecurity event.
There are two general tactics toward accomplishing this: disaster recovery and business continuity.
Disaster recovery refers to the set of systems and protocols that will make recovering data possible. In other words, if your business suffers a cyberattack and data is compromised, a disaster recovery solution will allow you to access backups and quickly restore your functionality.
Business continuity, on the other hand, refers to systems and protocols that allow businesses to maintain uptime in the case of a cyber event. So, if you experience a cyberattack, business continuity solutions would allow you to maintain functionality with redundant systems.
Both of these approaches can mitigate risk and give you peace of mind.
3. IT companies can improve your policies.
Finally, IT companies can also play a role in improving your technology policies – and even in upholding them through user training.
This may involve working with your team to shape the contents of your policy, or it may involve auditing your adherence to your existing policies to identify areas for improvement.
Your IT company may also be able to instruct users on how to adhere to your policies or provide training on systems to ensure cybersecurity.
In combination, these three areas give your IT company great leverage in improving your business’s security. The end result, for you, should be reduced risk and peace of mind.
When Should You Outsource to an IT Company?
We’ve covered how IT companies can help. But how can you tell when it’s time to outsource your support?
These three things are signals that it may be time to switch.
1. Network downtimes has become a serious problem.
Chronic network downtime is one of the killers of business productivity. Reputable sources like Carbonite say that just an hour of network downtime can cost a small business between $127 and $427 an hour, while Gartner found the average cost rises to $5,600 per minute for midsized businesses.
Perhaps you don’t have an IT team, or maybe your IT staff is too small for your organization. In either scenario, if your team is struggling to keep systems running, it may be time to consider outsourcing.
2. You want to add new or cutting-edge IT capabilities.
In-house IT staff often become the de facto technology experts in your company, but with the speed at which technology changes and evolves, it’s simply untenable to rely on them for expertise in all areas. The best way to access the latest IT skills and knowledge — without breaking the bank on expensive new hires — is to work with an outsourced IT partner.
3. You’re still relying on hourly, break-fix IT support.
For some small businesses, working with a break-fix provider who comes onsite and repairs your technology only after it’s started malfunctioning is an important phase. It allows them to only use support when they need it and keep tight control over cost.
But there comes a time in the development of every business when that ad hoc approach to technology becomes more of a liability than a benefit. If your business could benefit from consistency, it may be time to upgrade your IT company and work with a technology partner that can proactively improve your IT instead of reactively fixing issues.
How Do IT Companies Offer Strategy?
Speaking of proactive, strategic IT – how should you expect your IT company to provide it?
Our belief is that the most effective path toward IT strategy is through vCIO services.
A vCIO team provides the same IT insight, expertise, and strategy that a CIO provides to a large enterprise, allowing them to focus on growth with full confidence that their IT systems are optimally aligned with their business goals. It’s the next level of IT support.
The core of any quality vCIO service is regular, sit-down meetings between your executives and the vCIO team. During these meetings, they’ll get up to speed on your newest business goals, review your recent IT performance metrics, then offer targeted advice on how to improve your systems.
Below are five key areas in which vCIO support from an IT company can have a significant positive impact on a business.
- Vendor management
- Planning an optimized technology roadmap
- Improving your organization’s resiliency with disaster recovery
- Offering cybersecurity and regulatory expertise
- Streamlining and modernizing your business processes with better technologies
The cumulative effect on your business can be game-changing.
What Is the Process of Working with an IT Company Like?
We’ve discussed a lot of what an IT engagement entails – but what is the process of working with an IT company actually like? How do things start, how long do things take, and what’s the day-to-day include?
At Complete Network, here’s how we structure our engagements.
Kickoff and Onboarding: Day 1
We make your transition to our service seamless. From Day 1, you’ll have access to support so that there will be no service gap. We’ll collect credentials and key information to begin monitoring and managing your technology. We even provide email communications to help you communicate expectations to your users.
Discovery: Weeks 1-5
After kickoff, we’ll engage in a five-week discovery period dedicated to information gathering, documentation, and deployment. You’ll receive check-ins to ensure that all progress is aligned with your goals and needs. Your vCIO will carefully analyze your infrastructure during this time as they prepare your IT Review.
IT Review: Weeks 6-8
After assessing your systems, your vCIO will present your IT Review. This written document goes through your IT infrastructure by category and notes where alignment is needed, with issues prioritized according to importance. It includes budgetary costs and a roadmap to completion, as well as a scorecard that will monitor your results.
Stabilization and Optimization: Ongoing Basis
We will implement any initiatives agreed upon during the IT Review. You’ll have continually implemented IT services that your systems will benefit from and your users will love. Every six months, your vCIO will meet with you onsite to review your scorecard and update your roadmap.
Whenever you need us, we’ll be there.
How Can My Business Get Started with an IT Company?
If you’ve made it this far – nice work! Hopefully, this information has been helpful as you evaluate whether working with an IT company makes sense for your business and what you should expect from your engagement.
At Complete Network, we help businesses win with game-changing IT support. We provide high-value managed service, give you access to world-class vCIOs, and offer dedicated project teams to take your technology to the next level.
For the last five years, we’ve been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies, and it’s for good reason: Our clients love our service. In fact, our customer service reviews are 98.7% positive.
We’d love to talk to you about your business.
Get in touch with us to talk through your IT support needs. Let’s take the first step toward better IT.