To maximize your productivity with technology, you should start by implementing these IT support best practices.
At its simplest form, IT support is about solving computer and network issues so that your staff has the tools it needs to work with maximum efficiency. But as businesses become more reliant on their IT systems to work, collaborate, and connect with customers, the concept of IT support has expanded into a far larger and more complex concept involving both in-house staff and outsourced IT company options.
Comprehensive IT Support 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, your efforts should focus on proactively fixing chronic issues, finding and mitigating new issues before they cause work disruptions, and actively avoiding future problems with solid planning. Here are the core elements that define a thorough, proactive approach to IT support.
Patching Application Software and Network Devices
All the hardware and software that makes up your network must be updated to stay working and secure. For hardware devices, that means making sure that the firmware – the code stored in memory chips that tells the devices how to operate – has been updated.
Similarly, software vendors update their products all the time. While some of these updates get applied automatically, many others do not. To make sure that new software patches are applied as they’re released, you should designate an IT staff member to track and apply each of those updates.
Think that patching and updating software might not be worth the effort? That’s simply not the case, and here are some reasons why.
- Hackers target outdated systems
One of the reasons that software and hardware vendors update their products is to address the cybersecurity vulnerabilities they’ve discovered. In 2019 alone, 60% of all cyberattacks originated in unpatched IT systems, which shows how critical effective patch management can be.
- Incompatibilities slow operations
As the number of products and services on your network increases, so does the potential for incompatibility, which can harm the stability of your network. Even two software products that fail to interwork properly can lead to hours of troubleshooting and maintenance. The time necessary to fix a conflict between two mission-critical system would be significantly longer.
Despite this importance, there are many reasons that systems go unpatched. Most often, it’s because they simply get lost in the long list of IT tasks to address. Because it’s such a time-consuming job, many businesses choose to outsource patch management to an IT services provider who can ensure it’s handled with the appropriate amount of vigilance.
Monitoring the Health and Security of Your Network
A computer network is not a static object; it’s a dynamic system that’s constantly producing new data and taking input from users and other outside sources. To make sure that your network stays efficient and reliable, your IT support program should include processes to monitor each of your systems.
This vigilance is especially important in the realm of cybersecurity. Did you know that most cyberattacks happen outside normal work hours – the times when your staff would be home sleeping? 24/7 network health and security monitoring ensure that those attempts at intrusion are identified and mitigated in a timely way – no matter when they occur.
Robust network monitoring helps you maintain business efficiency.
- Analyze network and VPN traffic to detect anomalies or areas of optimization
- Gather useful analytics and metrics about individual devices and overall network performance
- Test network equipment to locate faults and track performance
Just like patching and updating, network health monitoring is often a task best outsourced to a trusted provider, like a managed IT service provider (MSP). A reputable MSP will come equipped with the latest network monitoring tools and the expertise to use them properly, enabling your onsite IT support staff to focus on their core competencies
Fast and Efficient Mitigation of Day-to-Day IT Problems
One of the central roles of any IT support staff is helping employees navigate the daily IT issues that can ruin an otherwise productive workday. The most efficient way to resolve these minor IT issues is by building what’s called an IT help desk.
An IT help desk is a team of support technicians who use specialized software and tools to track and resolve the common IT issues that harm business productivity. Some of the common issues that help desks address include:
- 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 help desk is an essential IT support function, ensuring that technology problems are resolved and that employee morale remains high. Because the help desk serves such a vital role, you should make sure they’re as accessible as possible. Provide your staff with help desk access via chat, email, and telephone, so they never feel alone when facing an IT issue.
How to Gauge the Quality of Your IT Support
One of the most important metrics 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
High-Value, High-Touch IT Support for Small and Midsized Businesses
Businesses can get overwhelmed trying to manage their IT support with internal staff. Reputable managed IT service providers, like Complete Network, eliminate that complexity by providing network monitoring, patch management, help desk service — and much more — for a single, flat monthly fee.
If you’re a business in Albany, New York or Charlotte, North Carolina that wants to optimize your network and discover a new level of IT confidence, we encourage you to reach out to us! Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is always available at 877.877.1840 or [email protected] to answer your questions.