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How to Choose a Computer Support Consultant

by Yolando B. Adams


Like such a lot of different companies, you have made widespread funding for what has grown to be the lifeblood of your commercial enterprise, your pc systems. From workstations to laptops and servers, and from software programs to printers and Internet connections, you cannot come up with the money to be down even for a minute. Finding an honest professional to hold you are walking reliably and securely may be a hard and highly-priced workout of trial and error and, in case you are fortunate after they depart, they have fixed greater than they’ve broken, costing you even extra money ultimately.

This is no economic system to be picking up the tab for an alleged computer Support Consultant experts on the task training.

You need a person that understands your wishes and knows how to deal with them.


All of my customers have been thru this headache-inducing manner. From the time they installed a request to their modern IT man for a restore, it takes days to acquire a reaction and another few days before a person actually shows as much as address the problem. The person who arrives is frequently under skilled and leaves a trail of troubles in their wake. I am reminded of the antique cartoons whilst the critically nearsighted Mr. Magoo would go away a path of accidents in his rearview replicate as he drove down the street, no longer a care within the world. I am certain we’ve all felt this way with numerous companies we have labored with over time. Many of them are the most important in their enterprise and we are left questioning how they ever got so huge?


In the hobby of sparing you the ache of hiring a Mr. Magoo, I provide this newsletter with some beneficial facts for finding and hiring a truthful, competent and low-cost IT guide company

The Value of Referrals

I’d in no way eat at a C, would you?

Once I made the mistake of telling a person that I may not set foot in a restaurant except a person has advocated it to me. “Oh, you can not be afraid to attempt something new,” she admonished. I simply smiled and nodded as I notion to myself, it is not approximately attempting new matters, it is about now not having to pay for something I did now not revel in. Likewise, while in want of a brand new dentist or mechanic I continually ballot buddies, own family or colleagues who they use and if they are glad with the service. I incredibly recommend doing the identical on the subject of getting assist to your office computer systems. Ask different commercial enterprise owners to your expert circle if they’re satisfied with their IT help company. If you belong to any nearby expert businesses, ask your fellow club contributors if they are able to recommend each person. Trust me; the corporation they endorse will significantly respect the referral.


In the past due Nineteen Nineties a Los Angeles nearby news application ran a hidden digital camera disclose on the filthy conditions of a few place restaurant kitchens. Grainy video confirmed the most excessive violations not unusual kitchen hygiene practices, not to mention public health code. The pictures on my own were enough to make one unwell and, in the hobby of not grossing you out, I will no longer cross into any further element of the infractions. The public outcry lead to the requirement that eating places and even shops that sell food post the letter grade of their maximum latest town inspection. Virtually overnight, small white placards with huge a blue A, B or, heaven forbid, C became prominently displayed in eatery home windows and even gasoline station mini-marts throughout city. One by no means sees a D or decrease due to the fact the ones places must hold their doorways shut until they have got wiped clean up their act and handed a subsequent inspection. It is uncommon to peer some thing lower than an A and, if one did, might one eat there? Probably no longer. Personally I need that little blue A, that referral from the Department of Public Health, within the window as a reassurance that I may not be spending the night time in the rest room.

Similarly, you need to no longer rent an IT issuer who isn’t encouraged through someone you accept as true with and would not charge something decrease than an A on their virtual file card. I do not advocate trusting in on line critiques from locations like Yelp or Yahoo Local in which it is too clean for providers to plant bogus sparkling opinions approximately themselves, or discredit their opposition. Another motive I don’t agree with them is that shortly after noticing classified ads presenting to pay humans to jot down product opinions there regarded to be an uptick in customer product evaluations at numerous etailers. Coincidence, maybe, but I can’t imagine going on line to Macys.Com to write a overview about the underwear I bought final week whether or not they had been secure or not.

There are some sites that are probably a touch more credible, which include AngiesList.Com, wherein clients pay an annual price for the privilege of posting and reading seller reviews. Ideally, this lessens the possibility of self-merchandising and abuse, however, I am not certain it’s miles really worth a month-to-month charge.

So, except there may be a particular supplier endorsement internet web page you like, I might stay with referrals from extra conventional assets and consider.

Vetting the Candidates

If you referred to as the primary character someone encouraged to you and it worked out, first-rate! If you have a list of possible carriers that is good, too, however, it is time to carefully slender your selection to the kind of agencies that could meet your desires without draining your pockets.

If your finances allow and your organization is so huge you experience handiest IBM consulting can help your desires, keep in mind that large IT businesses have quite a few overhead. If they boast of a thousand employees, huge clients, and a massive vivid workplace building, consider the hourly charges they will fee you to keep all that overhead.

Instead, search for smaller, local groups which are hungry to your enterprise but have a longtime, happy clientele. You are likely to have a greater private revel in as well as extra of an opportunity to negotiate fees, terms, etc. Interview them simply as you will a potential full-time employee. Have them provide you a listing of references and even the resume(s) of the technician(s) that could be assigned to care for your environment. Check their references and, if an IT dealer has published a customer testimonial to their net website, deliver that purchaser a call and get greater information. You would possibly study that things have modified and they aren’t as glad since the testimonial turned into given, or that whilst the aid is right, their enterprise and computer systems are Macs and also you want a PC guru. Hopefully you’ll locate that they have nothing but reward and preserve advocate the to everybody and every body. It’s really worth the telephone name. In addition to checking basic references, right here are greater regions to research to ensure their competency:

Are They Competent to Handle What You Have?

Ask them to display that they’re competent in the software and hardware your business makes use of.
I simply like my mechanic, Mike. He does a exceptional job on my circle of relatives’s domestic motors but if at some point I enjoy a mid-life disaster and move nuts with a German sports automobile. Hopefully Mike can carrier it, however if not, I’ll ask him for a recommendation of a person that can. Imagine in case you ultimately settled on a agency you like, but whilst the tech shows up, he stares blankly at your PC and says, “I’m genuinely greater of a Mac man.” That in thoughts, earlier than you begin calling round to peer which organisation offers you the warm and fuzzies, make a list of the software and equipment you expect them to support and move over it with them during the interview. Ask them for unique examples of while and the way they’ve advanced networks like yours. Their response ought to give you an concept of their stage of competence along with your computer, server, email, economic or accounting structures.

Familiarity with Your Industry

If you have got exceptionally specialised structures, look for companies who cater on your area of interest.


To a positive volume, the character of a specific business is incidental to what IT oldsters do. The accounting staffing organisation is probably strolling what the insurance man has down the corridor: HP or Dell hardware strolling Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, etc. With a T1, DSL or cable modem to the Internet. The staffing agency will be running a recruiter-precise software program utility, along with ProSearch even as the Insurance man’s primary production application is Goldmine, or a web-based answer like SalesForce.Com. Any IT man worth his salt can take a short examine those, do some studying and feature sufficient information to hold them jogging reliably. Businesses such as outlets or legal workplaces might have custom or legacy (vintage and out of guarantee) software program that calls for a more expertise to keep. It can ruin in such a lot of different methods that simplest someone with big enjoy with that unique product or its foundations can render a quick, effective restoration in the occasion of a failure. With a right finances and knowledge, the pleasant techs will have it configured with redundancy and failover mechanisms so that when it does damage, it’s miles transparent to the end users and there’s no lack of productiveness.

If you are jogging cut back-wrapped software program like Windows, Office, and QuickBooks, it may not remember as tons if the brand new IT support dealer isn’t always right away familiar along with your advertising enterprise as long as he has enjoyed with the software you run it on. (He ought to take a hobby to recognize your commercial enterprise, which I get into within the next section.) If you are a securities broking with an SDLC card for your DTCC solution, it might be beneficial to hire someone with a purchaser base just like your line of labor. When that precise line of verbal exchange to the Wall Street goes down the ultimate element you need is your IT man scratching his head and looking Google for error codes.

Understanding of Your Needs

Getting on the spot troubles fixed is critical, so too is understanding what is essential to you and making persisted enhancements for your community to gain your commercial enterprise.

As you entertain special businesses the higher possibilities will paintings to advantage a know-how of what’s crucial to you and what you need so that you get a go back on the investment you’ve made in your computer systems. He has to ask questions like “What is the largest challenge you’re facing with your computer systems?”, “How do you feel things will be more efficient?” And “How is your present-day IT help vendor falling briefly?”

Does she pay attention and repeat returned what you stated to illustrate an information of your situation, or just pass on and on pushing her own product? Once you finally decide hiring a person, over the years the representative must get a feel on your paintings drift and start to make suggestions to enhance efficiency and reliability. Security vulnerabilities have to be located and mitigated, ongoing troubles recognized and resolved and sooner or later you’ll notice your community jogging more easily than ever. A couple of years ago I walked into the office of a brand new customer and couldn’t consider what I observed. This was a multi-million dollar retail operation with over one hundred personnel inside the subject and 10 people in the company office on a peer-to-peer network.

The “server” become the workplace supervisor’s laptop hosting all the company’s files together with HR files, marketing, billing, invoices, resumes, and so forth. It was also hosting a big QuickBooks document (over 500 MB!) which the other computing device computer systems accessed. QuickBooks simply isn’t always designed to run this manner and, as a end result, it crashed frequently. But that changed into not the first thing I observed after I walked in. What stuck my eye became a stack of black accounting ledger books, one for each of the 12 shops the business enterprise owned and operated. At the end of every shift, group of workers would name into a special voicemail-handiest variety and depart the income numbers. The following morning, a clerk would play lower back as many as ninety voicemails and transcribe the numbers into the black books for the proprietor to peruse later inside the day. Talk about inefficient.

Within a month we had an online form available to the salons thru Microsoft’s SharePoint. At the end of the shift, they actually delivered the numbers into the form for the proprietor’s on the spot review in Excel. The new technique stored the company 15 hours in step with the week in hard work prices!

Your IT consultant has to be seeking out ways to prevent time and money by using recommending and implemented efficiencies like we did for the customer described above. If this has no longer been your experience along with your current provider, you want a new one.

Ensuring Business Continuity

Sure you have backups of your facts, however, do you understand how to restore it? How lengthy are you able to come up with the money for to be down while you struggle to get returned up?

In the earliest ranges of learning your environment, like before they’re even employed, assist providers must ask approximately your backups. How are they carried out – tape, external hard drives, online? Who is responsible for them? Are they examined? Once it’s far set up that backups are carried out often, and the price range permits, you ought to have a dialogue approximately business continuity. How present day does your backup statistics have to be for you to properly serve your customers? How long are you able to manage to pay for to be down even as records is being recovered? In the occasion of a fire, flood or robbery of your computers, how will you get that subsidized up facts onto computers and get your enterprise back up and running?

Make positive that your new IT representative is familiar with the solutions to those questions and has the expertise to correctly respond to an emergency to either maintain you walking, or get you returned up and strolling in line with their provider stage agreement.


If you anticipate developing, your IT provider should have the information and resources to build a computer infrastructure that grows proper along with you.

What are the contemporary increase projections to your business enterprise? Are you making plans to downsize, live as you are, or grow to be the 800-pound gorilla for your market? Of path, a new IT consultant might not be as excited that will help you downsize as it implies shrinking earnings for them as your want for them shrinks right together with you. But in case you plan to live as you’re or grow, your service issuer needs to be capable of assist as well as maintain up.

In the financial downturn of late 2000/early 2001, or the “dot-bomb” generation, I turned into laid off as business took a dive and my employer went into survival mode. Seemingly in a single day this a hit employer went from approximately 75 employees to approximately 5. I become retained to aid their computers, but once they determined to transport to a more austere office I became not consulted and positive important things have been ignored of making plans the relocation, like the Internet connection. As a staffing company the Internet became a key tool to discover candidates for their customers, to send and get hold of emails, submit positions to the process board on their internally hosted net web page and more. No one at the corporation transferred the prevailing Internet provider to the new workplace. And even supposing that they had, no person had the information to make sure the web web site and e-mail would maintain to waft when the servers have been moved and taken again on-line. They have been dead inside the water.

Today you may get an Internet connection in a couple of days, but this incident became returned whilst the DSL companies had over offered their offerings through very creative TV advertising campaigns (who recollects SBC’s “Web Hog” classified ads?) and new installations have been 6 weeks out. So, in a primary pinch, they are known as me and I turned into able to help them get a transient and very slow dial-up connection to the Internet to at the least get e mail flowing again.

Whether you’re growing or shrinking, your IT guy need to realize the way to installation a new workplace or pass your current one so that all of your IT offerings go proper along with you. Many IT departments come to be the de facto Facilities Department in their groups, so they may also be capable of help make certain that your different utilities, which includes power and cellphone are properly set up as well. If that is an additional office, it need to be determined earlier the level of communication required among the computer systems. Will group of workers at the brand new area require get right of entry to to files on servers on the old region? How will they log onto the community at area 2 when the server is at area 1? Is a brand new server required or will a website-to-website online VPN connection be adequate? These are all issues an excellent IT provider provider need to be sense of right and wrong of and increase solutions for.

Respected inside the IT Community

The Mr. Magoos of the arena develop reputations that start to precede them. I’ve acquired resumes from human beings I could now not ever lease based on non-public reviews. In a few instances the resumes themselves have been so mistakes encumbered, I couldn’t allow the sender close to one in every of my computer systems. On the alternative hand, some IT guys are so respected that they are never out of a process due to the fact they have built such sturdy reputations as being technically gifted in addition to simply first-class to have round. IT companies can expand similar reputations through the good paintings of the people that contain their staff. As cited in advance, you ought to be capable of get references from the ones agencies you’re hiring, in addition to copies of the resumes of the technicians assigned to care for your computer systems.

Another manner to make certain their respectability is thru their contributions to the IT community. I have not begun to satisfy the pc expert that is aware of the whole lot there is to understand approximately computers. There are those who have an notable memory and might do not forget each detail of configurations of esoteric programs they labored with 5 years in advance. Others, recognise loads, but depend on the IT community together with their partnerships and online help forums for assist with greater tough problems. Hopefully someone has experienced with the equal hassle I actually have and has taken the time to post the decision online. Likewise, after I recover from a hump others are nonetheless suffering to overcome, I attempt to permit all people know the answer that worked for me.

An easy Google or Bing seek of the call of the agency you are thinking about, the owner or her technicians may go back contributions they’ve made to their community inside the way of technical articles or blog posts. You may additionally locate that they belong to industry affiliations for enhancing the extent of carrier they offer their customers, awards, or other honors.

Howdy Pard’ner

The vendor you pick out need to have formal partnerships with the makers of products they sell and assist. Among the myriad reasons Microsoft is this type of large and effective employer is the value they region in their companions. As a technician, I recognize that, if I get in a jam, tremendously skilled guide for any Microsoft product is a cellphone call away. For every product Microsoft has a team of experts all over the international to assist clear up the scenario and ensure my client is thrilled. Whether 2 within the afternoon or 2 within the morning, if my patron’s e mail server is down and I even have exhausted all other methods to clear up the trouble, I realize I can name Microsoft and a team of engineers will paintings with me 24 hours a day until it’s far fixed. They are one of the few businesses with a purpose to do this and it’s far thanks to my partnership degree with them, Small Business Specialist. This isn’t a designation that comes clean – a prospective associate need to skip a chain of assessments and satisfy different stringent requirements. The extra necessities met, the better the partnership level and related advantages.

If you’re strolling Microsoft products to your business, make certain that the human beings you rent to assist you to experience a few degree of Microsoft partnership. Likewise for Sun Micro Systems, Oracle, Trend Micro, and so on. You will gain greatly from their affiliation with these companies.

They will recognize extra approximately the product and take more interest in it resulting in a residual benefit for you in the manner of extra reliable overall performance. It may also suggest better pricing when it comes time to improve or renew your license.

Non-Disclosure Agreement

When you believe a person with the keys in your state, get a few warranty they might not make copies to share with others.

Almost any commercial enterprise has a treasured database of purchaser contacts that has grown with them over time. It can encompass cutting-edge and past customers in addition to sales leads so that it will with a bit of luck pan out in the future. It takes years of hard work to develop this sort of listing which contributes to the overall price of our corporation. You might by no means want to lose this aid or permit it to make its manner to a competitor. To save you it from turning into lost or corrupted it should be subsidized up nightly with your other records. And to preserve it from falling into enemy palms, every body like an IT provider with get admission to have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This goes for your employees as nicely; specifically the ones in a income position who could gain from your hard earned Rolodex if they jumped ship to begin their personal company or went to work on your rival. You can easily locate customizable boiler plate NDAs on line, or send me an electronic mail and I will gladly offer one to you.

Contracts: Good and Bad

I am so thankful that cable TV, everyday telephone service, the gas and strength corporations do not make you signal a settlement. Of path, they are quite plenty monopolies so why could they? But I am sure they could if they could – that they had ding you while you move and need to cancel your agreement, then that they had nail the person who buys your property with a sign-up price. Fortunately, they don’t do that, at the least now not the ones in my neck of the woods, as a minimum, not yet. It looks as if there’s masses of cell opposition accessible, however an implied conspiracy advocate they are in cahoots with their obscene early termination fess in excess of $300. The upside to the opposition is, of route, they understand that after that settlement is up, you are a loose agent to sigh with whomever you please, so they better be Johnny On the Spot when problems want correcting. I be aware a widespread difference among the extent of service I get from the cable service which also offers my Internet carrier for my enterprise (no contract and no cable opposition) and my cellular provider (contract with opposition). The provider I get from the latter is infinitely higher and I gladly suggest them to others. The cable agency? Not so much.

IT assist vendors have lots of competition and in an effort to preserve you, maximum will attempt to get you right into a contract. But that is not always a horrific issue. The supplier enjoys predictable coins go with the flow and a few guarantee that, despite how satisfied you made them nowadays, they’re less likely to lease someone else who’s running an interesting promoting. What’s greater, the seller wants to keep making you glad through exceeding your expectancies. The extra easily your machines run, the less downtime you’ve got, the less time you have to worry and the greater time you have to recognition on growing your commercial enterprise. Likewise, the higher your system runs, the extra money they make no longer having to pay a person to dash out and fasten them. It is win-win for anybody concerned. Indeed, contracts in this situation may be precise for all and sundry, but ensure that there is some type of out clause so you are not held hostage through a enterprise presenting you rotten service.

So, if either birthday party can get out at any time, what’s the motive of the settlement? To establish expectations: I will carry out this provider for you and you shall compensate me x. If I fail to carry out said service you may cancel the settlement. If you fail to pay me, I will stop service till I acquire charge and many others.

As I noted earlier, I am scripting this in a duration of economic decline and things are hard all over. I have allowed several clients to defer payment due to the fact I know enterprise is slow for them and they may be ready for price from their clients as properly. Historically they pay their payments and we are all counting on the financial system improving. But greater importantly, their fulfillment is my achievement and their computers no longer running well will impair their ability to behavior business and pay me. I trust this personal contact is what will help many companies survive this tough economy.

Even if your agreement establishes 15, 30 or 90 terms, the non-public relationship you expand along with your supplier ought to permit for some wiggle room in this place as instances dictate.

SLA and SOWs

Establish in writing expectations for ongoing support in addition to any special initiatives.

As its call implies, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) establishes the extent of provider the vendor is anticipated to offer and the patron expects to receive. It may be issued and signed one after the other or as a part of the settlement. On the hardware aspect, this could include computer systems, servers, software, community and ancillary equipment. For instance, the software should include the operating machine and production programs together with the Exchange (e-mail server) at the server aspect and Outlook (electronic mail customer) at the desktop facet.

The SLA has to additionally set up how speedy you must count on the seller to reply to while you alert them to a trouble. Depending on the severity degree, their response time might vary from 1 hour for the maximum important problems (server down) to four hours (1 of 5 printers has a paper jam).

Any paintings now not defined inside the settlement’s SLA accomplished for your pc systems need to be truly defined in a Statement of Work (SOW) to set up expectations on each end. In a nutshell, the SOW will country the problem or want, the solution, timeline, deliverables, stop end result and prices.

a SOW may not be needed for the abnormal printer jam or email snag, however when you have been bought a firewall to control employee net browsing, viruses and unsolicited mail, the assertion of work will assist each event to recognize the scope of the mission and agree when the challenge has been finished nicely through the representative and customary by you. The ultimate factor you want is for the consultant to inform you he is completed putting in Internet filter, however, your personnel is nevertheless updating Facebook on organization time and you have were given greater junk mail on your Inbox than ever earlier than.


The sole focus of this article has been to offer you some hints for deciding on a computer consulting company that, ultimately, maintains you and your computer systems buzzing a satisfied tune. With any kind of state-of-the-art there’ll always be some problems, particularly as changes are made, but standard your systems ought to run reliably when well cared for and there must be no nagging, lingering issues that never appear to get constant. I even have labored in few companies wherein IT changed into given top precedence. In truth, I can rely them on one hand; it become a technology corporation with a industrial website, so obviously there has been a incredible deal of emphasis on the excellent of the network, servers, workstations, and so forth. And technicians searching after them. Unfortunately, either thru finances constraints or misplaced priorities, IT typically goes below nurtured and, when there may be a failure, it is a huge emergency.

The email server crashes and each person runs around just like the clichéd headless chicken clamoring for a restoration. All the at the same time as untold enterprise is lost by means of this huge place of job distraction. Productivity drops as the crisis dominates the day which is fed on by conferences to locate solutions, workarounds or simply commiserating and no person capable of do his or her job. Making matters worse, excuses are having to receive to clients due to the fact “the machine’s down again” and the organization appears simply plain horrific.

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