For the past eight years we have served small businesses as an outsourced IT provider. We have learned how they operate and how they view their IT needs. These businesses are too small to need or pay for an in-house IT employee so they look to an outside source to service them. So what is it that they need?
The needs of the small business are simple yet varied. The basic needs include troubleshooting error messages, programs not working right, upgrades, and data backup to name a few. Their needs can be more involved and complex at times depending on their willingness to venture into the cloud. The cloud can either simplify or complicate things for the small (and medium) businesses if the move to the cloud is not well thought out and planned in its purpose as well as its execution.
The small business customer typically relies on the outsourced IT company to know what products are out there, their costs (both up front and down the road), and their impact on the customer’s production, efficiency, and workforce. Law firms have court dates and deadlines to deal with and the courts do not simply let them off with an “I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s reschedule the court date for that case for you” if your server is down and you didn’t get to finish your court documents in time for this court date. The dog ate your homework doesn’t fly in the court world nor should it. Medical offices do not want to have to reschedule their patients because their server is down. One question is whether they need a server and if not (if the cloud will work well for them) why are they still on a server?
If you are a medical office you are required to be HIPAA compliant. The federal government does not suggest or recommend that you be. They require it or you can be fined out of existence. Each occurrence of a HIPAA violation is a $25,000 fine. Notice I did not say that each employee who commits a Violation but each individual occurrence is a $25,000 fine. You should not trust your IT and HIPAA compliance to a company that is not a HIPAA certified professional company.
There are questions that need to be asked by both the business and the IT company to make sure the business is using the right tools, programs, email service, etc. Here are just a few of those questions (many more to follow in a discussion with the business itself):
- Is the cloud right for you (either in a pure or hybrid environment)?
- Do you have people in the field who need to access company data and resources? How are they doing that now? Does it seem inefficient?
- Are you subject to HIPAA or any other regulatory compliance standards?
- Are you using pop3 email (there are still too many companies using this)?
- Should you have desktops, laptops, tablets, etc?
Those are just a few of the questions that may be asked.
While each business needs technology to run efficiently those needs can be different from business to business. For your company’s best interest, remember to take time to interview at least two providers and talk to their referrals.