IT Support providers regularly review their services to make sure they continue to cover the latest IT trends and remain competitive. The result? New features continuously make their way to Support Plans and overwhelm potential clients looking for an IT Support solution.
I am not trying to underestimate the importance of innovation in our industry, but rather trying to help the business user steer past some of the “window dressing“ features and gather an insight into the essential aspects that an IT Support solution should include.
Here is a brief description of the essential features of an IT Support plan:
ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It comprises a set of best practices relating (in an IT Support context) to procedures such as providing a single point of contact and feedback on the status of resolving an IT related incident.
Remote Support is a cost effective method to solve incidents without having to send a technician onsite. Using a secure connection, support personnel can access systems remotely and resolve an underlying problem.
Helpdesk refers to IT experts who respond, within pre-agreed timeframes, to issues submitted by phone or email. Depending on the Service Level Agreement, a Helpdesk service would be available during business hours, or 24/7.
In most cases an IT Helpdesk provides level 1, 2, and 3 Support:
A staff member logs a particular problem and gathers all the required information. Usually representatives are able to solve more than 70% of cases at this level, which often relate to requests such as “how to”, passwords, and basic troubleshooting.
At this level the problem is escalated to a more experienced staff member who will attempt to provide a solution and in-depth analysis of the root cause.
At this level, senior technicians will look at certain complicated problems and assess the approach followed since level 1. Technicians at this stage would have an extensive experience in their fields and can provide solutions to new and complex problems.
Operating System and Application Support:
This refers to providing support for deploying, configurating, using and updating applications; as well as, Windows and Apple devices.
User Management refers to the process of adding and deleting users and managing their access and file sharing levels.
Proactive Alert Notification:
This refers to alerting the user to a matter of urgency through phone, email, or SMS. Alerts are also sent when an incident has been detected and fixed, or when approval is required for an issue not covered in the Service Level Agreement.
When level 1, 2, or 3 support is not able to resolve an issue, IT Support providers employ a vendor escalation procedure through which they contact the vendor on the client’s behalf.
Tip: Look for companies who have established partnerships with leading software and hardware vendors as they can provide this service cost effectively.
Customer Online Portal:
A Customer Online Portal is a web interface accessible with a user name and password. This online portal allows you to track your incidents and service requests, view system status and performance, and access your monthly reports and billing.
Single point of contact:
A Single Point of Contact is a resource that understands your business and is able to promptly respond to problems.
Proactive Server Monitoring
This is the process where support providers scan and fix problems before they disrupt your business. Best practice procedure also requires the provider to generate reports that detail the problem, its resolution, and other issues that may require attention.
When IT Support issues cannot be resolved remotely, the provider dispatches an engineer onsite. Most providers will also offer a dedicated onsite resource if your business requires that level of coverage.
A Service advisor (also referred to as an Account Manager) ensures that the service continues to meet your business needs, reviews what services have been provided, assesses the service performance, and handles all upgrade requests.
Annual IT Audit:
Using sophisticated Software, IT companies can map devices, applications and licenses throughout an organisation and alert on issues that need attention.
Monthly reports detail issues resolved, report on the state of systems, and detail recommendations and alerts.
When delivered by the right provider, the above features allow businesses to cut costs and reduce downtime. So before you commit to an IT Support plan make sure you check our post about choosing a Managed IT Service Provider.