SME survival guide: How much should I pay for IT support?

Due to the very nature of SMEs, the outsourcing of HR, legal, finance or IT functions can often be far more viable than employing a permanent member of staff. Choosing the right partner can be something of a minefield, so ensure you ‘couple up’ with a service provider committed to providing the best service – and value for money.

So, how do you find ‘the one’?

What if I suggested using a similar approach to identifying a new romantic partner? Granted, it might seem a little far-fetched, but bear with me. When it comes to romance, you usually rely on physical attraction – but there must be more than meets the eye.

There’s the important emotional connection that you can’t quite put your finger on. Perhaps they make you laugh and enjoy similar hobbies? You might find that conversation flows easily, and you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Next – and most importantly – you begin to consider your individual values and whether they are aligned. Do you share the same views on money or morals when it comes to family for instance, and what constitutes the perfect work-life balance?

Once the ‘getting-to-know-you’ phase is over, you want to be reassured that your partner will stand by you, listening to and supporting you as your needs ebb and flow. When times get tough, it’s vital that both parties are on the same page in terms of what would be seen as a positive outcome – treating each other with respect and making problem-solving a priority.

During this period, you’ll be able to see how each other responds in different circumstances – in times of stress, with regards to unplanned events, holidays, children, and the myriad of challenges relationships inevitably bring.

For any enterprise to work, each person needs to be willing to accept the other as they are – without trying to change their ethos or behaviour in order to fit with their modus operandi.

Sound familiar? These same criteria should apply when considering a business relationship.

That same first impression can begin with a visit to a company website, an eye-catching stand at a conference or even a simple ‘hello’ at a networking get-together. A brand which presents a visually appealing and seemingly authentic image will naturally spark interest from their target consumer.

Following an initial conversation – and the arrangement of a ‘first date’ – the connection will start to develop and opinions will begin to form. During this period, ask questions which will offer an insight into how that person or business behaves daily – rather than taking the service they promise to offer at face value.

Listen to the language they use when talking about clients – as well as their own employees – and always speak to a handful of existing customers to see if their actions marry up with their words.

Is the feeling mutual? Are they genuinely interested in your success as well as their own, or are they simply looking for new customers to improve their bottom line? Do they try to persuade you that their way of working is best – the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach – or take the time to understand how you work and consider the specific needs of your organisation?

Are they concerned about your business goals, and will they guarantee a service which works in tandem with your short and long-term ambitions? Questions relating to your challenges, aspirations and pressure points will be a particularly good indication here.

If – after a handful of exploratory meetings – you know a lot about what they offer, but feel they don’t quite understand you beyond any immediate and specific requirements, they probably won’t cut the mustard when it comes to an enduring partnership.

Don’t get swept up in that initial physical attraction phase, and find yourself dazzled by a shiny website and slick office space. Make sure every box is ticked, both in the here and now and in line with your future vision – otherwise things could turn sour when the spark begins to fade.

At Q2Q we want to work in partnership with our clients. Your business goals are important to us – whether they are related to IT or not – as they will help us to understand where you’re heading, and how we can provide the best solutions to help you get there.

If you want to understand what your IT company should be providing in terms of a holistic approach – and are interested in working with a service provider that is equally focused on your success as well as its own – the kettle is always on a Q2Q HQ, so get in touch with us here.

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    Technical IT Support illustration at Q2Q HQ Lancaster, Lancashire and the North West