The gift of trusted IT support

Empowering your business: Key characteristics of a trusted IT partner

By Mark HoffmannKENOSHA.COM

A leader in the IT industry for nearly three decades, Hoffmann has helped small and large businesses take advantage of technology to better serve their customers and employees. Hoffmann is owner of CMIT Solutions of SE Wisconsin.

We’ve all been there: a desktop or laptop crashes, bringing productivity to a halt. If you’re lucky, you have a tech-savvy friend or hard-working employee who will go the extra mile to try to keep computers in working order. 

The problem, though, is that when you really need assistance—at 4:00 PM on a Friday with a big deadline looming, say, or 8:00 AM on Monday when your inbox is full of important messages—that person may not be available to help. And if a problem happens during the holidays, it might be even more difficult to find timely help.

What then? If you and your employees aren’t able to work, downtime can immediately start affecting productivity and costing you big bucks in lost revenue. That’s why a trusted IT partner is such an invaluable resource—especially as cybersecurity challenges increase and the demand for help grows. 

But what’s the best way to choose a managed services provider? How do you know if a prospective technician will maintain day-to-day operations, protect business data, and empower your employees to remain productive? Not to mention if you have to switch from the lackluster support you’re currently receiving and navigate the end of one vendor relationship while negotiating the beginning of another one. 

Of course, you don’t just wake up one day and decide to switch your IT provider—just like you wouldn’t switch your lawyer or accountant on the fly. Any service provider requires a deep level of trust. That’s especially true for the people protecting your information and securing your computers.  

In the long run, proactive IT services cost far less than reactive or break/fix services. They can also empower your employees to work smarter while setting your business up for long-term success. Sound interesting? Here are a few characteristics of support that any trusted IT partner should provide:

• Identify areas that demand immediate attention. If you’re not backing up your data regularly (or your backup drive lives next to your computer), this critical need should be addressed first. Data loss can be devastating for a business, and many of the biggest cybersecurity issues like malware and ransomware can be avoided with reliable, remote backups to ensure business continuity and stability of all devices. Compliance is another big issue that often requires immediate attention. Maybe your company is subject to HIPAA or FINRA regulations. Maybe you do business in Canada and have to meet PIPEDA requirements. Or maybe you live in one of the 10+ U.S. states that have recently enacted more stringent data protection and privacy laws for all companies, no matter the industry. It’s impossible to avoid such compliance requirements, especially now that one mistake can lead to serious civil or criminal penalties. CMIT Solutions can help you get in line with regulatory requirements—quickly if needed.  

• Implement proactive 24/7 monitoring of your systems. Does the IT service provider you’re considering specialize in a blend of proactive, preventative maintenance and around-the-clock monitoring? Does that provider have access to a national help desk and network operations center that utilizes the expertise of more than 800 knowledgeable technicians? If you’ve got an emergency, resources like these should be available to solve any problem promptly. Given our strong position within the technology market, CMIT Solutions can also spot problems and anticipate future developments long before they impact your business. That’s the kind of enterprise-level support and competitive advantage that every company deserves. 

• Suggest services that fit your budget and your needs. Proactive IT services provide better long-term value than reactive or break/fix services. But that doesn’t mean you should break the budget paying for them. Your IT provider should understand your realistic financial constraints and help you identify an appropriate course of action that solves short-term problems with a solution you can afford. For a fixed monthly cost, CMIT Solutions provides cybersecurity protection against ransomware infections and data breaches. We can also implement responsive firewalls, antivirus software, traffic analysis, remote maintenance, and other multi-layered solutions. 

• Develop long-term strategies for hardware, software, and support upgrades. No IT provider should ever recommend services that you don’t need or try to push expensive new software and hardware on your business. They should, however, work with you to identify areas where tech upgrades can better protect your business and improve day-to-day operations. Then, they should lay out a strategy to efficiently plan for and implement those upgrades across the coming months and/or years. CMIT Solutions does not push expensive products. Instead, we learn your budgetary limitations first—then suggest realistic fixes to address your issues.

• Listen first, listen again, and listen some more. Beware of any IT provider who proposes solutions before you’ve actually outlined the problem. Any trusted partner should understand your overall business goals, listen to your short-term concerns, and ask about your long-term goals before suggesting ways to fix the problem. Once they propose solutions, make sure they focus on improving productivity, not just turning a profit. If you bring up an issue, wait to see how they respond before proceeding to the next step. Good client service means always putting your needs first. That’s why CMIT Solutions offers the services of a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) or virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO), giving your team integrated, executive-level support that assists with every aspect of your IT ecosystem and invests in your long-term success. 

• Provide the cybersecurity education your employees need. Delivering regular information about cybersecurity and data privacy can have a transformative effect on a company’s overall attitude toward technology. Instead of treating education and training as a frustrating requirement, CMIT Solutions’ clients often come to think of it as productive, interesting, and even enjoyable. When employees are more invested in cybersecurity, you get a strong first line of defense protecting your company against common threats like phishing and ransomware.

If you’re ready to work with IT experts who really care, CMIT Solutions is ready to hear from you. We have more than 250 offices across North America, providing our clients with deep knowledge about every industry and business type on the market.

Don’t waste another day trying to navigate IT complexity without a trusted partner by your side. Contact CMIT Solutions today to talk to an IT expert for guidance you can count on.