Understanding IT Support: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding IT Support - A Comprehensive Guide
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If your business is suffering because your IT department cannot handle the volume of work it is required to do, it might be time to outsource and hire an IT support service.

Job postings for IT support roles are increasing, reflecting the growing demand for these services.

While it might be time to hire an IT support service, you should know not all of them are created equally.

Here, we would like to explain the importance of IT support and how specialized IT support can help you grow.

đź“– Key takeaways

  • As digital transformation took place in almost all business operations using different IT tools, it became clear that many small businesses needed an IT support specialist.
  • IT functions are essential in any business as they manage many aspects and support all functions. In-house IT departments can cost a lot of time and money, so many companies hire IT support specialists to improve their IT teams’ capabilities and outsource the IT support function.
  • There are three levels of IT support, from basic self-help through the help desk to the most advanced (level 0 to level 3). Also, it can be remote, onsite, or provide ongoing support.

What is IT Support?

IT support refers to specialized professionals providing services and assistance to individuals or organizations using IT systems. These services help users troubleshoot, maintain, and improve their IT infrastructure.

So, IT support is the assistance employees and the wider organization provide for information technology-related issues. It’s about offering users help with concrete answers and solutions to problems they may be experiencing and managing incidents and service requests through completion.

For example, you may need additional IT resources to support a remote workforce or require strong cybersecurity and network performance assistance.

Technical Knowledge and Skills

The required skills for an IT Support specialist vary depending on the type of support and the level of help required.

Let’s look at some of the most required skills for IT support solutions:

  • Technical knowledge. Firstly, a strong understanding of computer systems like hardware, software, operating systems, and network services is crucial.
  • Problem-solving skills. IT Support specialists should have excellent problem-solving skills to diagnose issues and provide effective solutions quickly.
  • Communication skills. They should also have good communication skills to understand complex technical concepts to non-technical users.
  • Cybersecurity skills. IT support specialists must understand cybersecurity principles to protect networks and data from potential threats. This includes network security knowledge, knowing how to set up firewalls, detect and remove malware, and implement security protocols.

Being adaptable and able to learn new technologies quickly is also essential in the constantly evolving field of IT. Additionally, IT Support specialists should be organized, detail-oriented, and able to multitask to manage various tasks and troubleshoot requests efficiently.

IT Infrastructure Components

First, it is imperative to understand the IT infrastructure. To do that, the different aspects of the IT infrastructure must be discussed. 

Hardware

Hardware represents the physical equipment, such as computer systems, servers, printers, etc., on which the IT infrastructure runs.

IT support is required to configure hardware or ensure employee training in new computer hardware.

Storage

The IT infrastructure will work with a lot of data, so storage is also necessary. Both servers and hard drives come with backups for security and redundancy. Lastly, computers and access modules are needed to interact with the IT infrastructure. 

Software

Computers and access modules need to run on operating systems. The infrastructure must also supply the employees with the software they need to do a day’s work (e.g., document editors, slideshow presenters, spreadsheets, etc.). 

Security

This is very important because organizations run on the information held on the infrastructure, and it is key that it should be protected. Security can also be focused on both hardware and software.

For example, the IT infrastructure has to be secure against physical attacks. Server rooms are usually designed with certain specifications to protect them from natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes.

The Importance and Benefits of IT Support

Supporting an in-house IT department is expensive, and there are far fewer qualified applicants than open positions.

As cybersecurity threats continue to grow, organizations are left vulnerable without adequate expertise and support because downtime from such attacks is costly.

IT Support Will Help Your Simplify and Improve Your Processes

An IT support specialist can help you streamline your processes in various ways. They can provide technical assistance and troubleshoot any issues that arise, and they can also help implement new strategies to optimize your processes better. They can set up cloud-based systems that allow for more efficient storage and communication and automated workflow systems that reduce the risk of human error.

You Will Save Time and Money

Having someone to help manage your IT needs means you don’t have to worry about hiring outside consultants or dealing with technical issues. Additionally, they can provide cost-effective solutions that will maximize efficiency while minimizing overhead costs. 

Help You Make the Most Out of the Technology Available

Technology is ever-evolving, making it difficult to stay updated on the latest trends. This is where IT experts come in handy; they can guide you through using technology to maximize efficiency and help you identify industry-specific software solutions and tools that best suit your needs.

By leveraging their expertise, you can save time and money while achieving insight into the most effective technology use across all departments.

Provide You With Comprehensive Security Solutions for Your Computer Systems

An IT support specialist can help you identify any security gaps and suggest the best ways to close them, such as implementing two-factor authentication or setting up firewalls.

Additionally, your employees will be trained on proper data handling practices and detecting potential security risks.

You Will Stay Up To Date on Regulations

You must stay up-to-date on the laws and regulations regarding digital technology. IT experts can help you understand these new rules and how they may affect your practices. They can also advise on best practices for complying with these regulations, such as implementing encryption or setting up internal protocols.

Improve Customer Service

IT experts can provide technical assistance to improve customer service and suggest new strategies for improving customer experience, such as introducing automated customer support systems or setting up self-service portals and chatbots.

More time for you to invest in your business when IT support is covering IT things

Letting someone else care for your IT needs can free up your time. Remember that serving your customers is the most important thing for you.

IT support will help you when things go wrong.

The other great thing is getting expert help when things go wrong. There is no longer any need to spend hours digging around the internet to discover what is wrong with your system.

You must request service from an expert who immediately knows how to fix the issue.

IT support helps solve technical issues promptly.

Even if you have an IT team, it could be limited by expertise and response time. However, professional IT support is well-versed and experienced in all IT-related issues and offers prompt solutions for all your technical needs.

Support Specialist vs. Technician

There are two main types of professionals in IT support: support personnel and technicians. While both roles provide technical assistance, there are distinct differences between them.

Support specialist provide technical help to non-IT computer users and focus on customer service and ensuring that clients’ needs are met efficiently and effectively. They have excellent communication skills and can guide customers through IT issues step-by-step, making sure they understand the solutions provided.

On the other hand, technicians are more focused on the technical aspect of IT support. They have a deep understanding of hardware, network services, and software and are responsible for troubleshooting and fixing any IT issues that may arise. Technical support specialists may analyze, evaluate, and troubleshoot network problems.

Technical Support Services

Technical Support

Level 0 Self-help Support

Level 0 is the first point of contact for IT issues. This level often includes self-help resources such as FAQs, knowledge bases, and online tutorials to help users resolve their own problems. This type of support is cost-effective and helps reduce the workload for IT support personnel, allowing them to focus on more complex issues.

Level 1 Help Desk Technical Support

Level 1, also called help desk support, involves direct communication with an IT support specialist on the other end of a phone call, online chat, or email string who can diagnose and resolve issues remotely or on-site.

This type of assistance includes basic troubleshooting and problem-solving tasks. These may include resetting passwords, configuring software or hardware, and diagnosing common computer problems.

Level 2 Technical Support

If an issue cannot be resolved at Level 1 help desk through troubleshooting, it will be escalated to Level 2 as more advanced support.

This level involves more specialized technicians with in-depth technical knowledge of specific systems or software. They are responsible for resolving more complex issues that require advanced technical skills and resources.

Level 3 Advanced Technical Support

Level 3 technical support is reserved for the most critical and complex issues. It often involves collaboration with product engineers or developers to identify and resolve deep-rooted technical problems.

Level 3 technicians may also be responsible for providing training and guidance to lower-level support staff and researching ways to improve processes.

Three Types of IT Support Solutions

Usually, you can choose from or mix three types of IT support: onsite, remote, and ongoing support.

Onsite Support

Onsite support involves a specialist coming to your office to solve an IT problem.

Some business owners feel that remote assistance is all a firm needs to keep their IT infrastructure at its best because you get quick help exactly when needed. But there are exceptions where on-site support is the best.

For example, if the breakdown is physical (on your hardware), the specialist must come along to inspect the glitch. Or, if your desktop won’t boot, the IT specialists won’t be able to log into your system remotely.

This is the main reason onsite support remains important for all organizations. It helps protect essential IT infrastructure.

Remote Support

Remote or offsite support is done remotely using some software access types. With such help, you and the technician don’t have to meet. Instead, the expert uses a tool to log into your system directly from their off-site location, navigate it to spot the problem, and fix it (or give a way forward).

While on-site support requires dialing an emergency number and waiting for the technician to arrive, the wait may sometimes last for hours. This means your routine operations must stop for some time.

Remote support, on the other hand, offers on-the-spot treatments; the sooner you connect to your off-site expert, the faster you can get help and continue with your daily activities.

Also, offsite monitoring is cheaper than onsite support because the IT specialist does not have to come to your premises physically.

Remote monitoring is the approach many businesses use for day-to-day troubleshooting and the best way to get quick fixes to some common tech troubles.

Ongoing Support

Ongoing support means that the IT experts are always available to answer your questions and help you whenever you encounter technical difficulties.

Managed IT Support and Outsourcing

IT or tech support can be kept in-house as your IT department or outsourced to a third party.

With managed IT support, a third-party provider takes responsibility for your IT department managing your company’s IT infrastructure, including monitoring, maintenance, updates, and troubleshooting.

Outsourcing refers to hiring an external company to handle specific organizational tasks or functions. In IT support, outsourcing typically involves delegating certain technical responsibilities to a specialized team to free up internal resources and improve efficiency.

Should You Outsource Your IT Support?

Many businesses wonder whether they should outsource their IT support or handle it in-house.

One major benefit of outsourcing IT support is cost savings. Outsourcing allows you to pay for support as needed rather than hiring a full-time team or individual to handle your IT needs. This can be especially beneficial for smaller businesses with limited budgets.

Consider your customers’ needs when deciding on your IT support model. If your customers rely heavily on IT infrastructure to interact with your business, an outsourced IT team can provide specialized expertise and quick response times. This can lead to better customer satisfaction and retention.

Another factor to consider is the level of complexity in your IT systems. Outsourcing may be the best option if you have a highly complex network or require advanced technical support, as it allows you access to a team with a wide range of expertise.

Also, outsourcing IT can improve efficiency within your organization. With a dedicated team handling IT issues, internal team members can focus on core business tasks, leading to increased productivity and growth for your company.

The Cost of IT Support

One of the main concerns businesses have about outsourcing IT is the cost. However, compared to hiring a full-time in-house IT department, outsourcing can actually be more cost-effective.

How much you will pay will depend on your organization’s size, support model, and complexity of the environment. Every organization is different, so you must do a cost-benefit analysis to understand the impact on your organization.

Benefits of Outsourcing IT Support

There are many benefits of outsourcing your IT service needs to an IT support service provider:

  1. Cost savings. Outsourcing your IT support can save you money in the long term by reducing overhead costs such as salaries, benefits, and office space.
  2. Access to specialized expertise. Many IT support providers possess a large, dedicated team of individuals with strong IT expertise. This can be especially beneficial for smaller organizations that may not have the resources or budget to hire a full-time IT staff.
  3. 24/7 support. With an outsourced IT support team, you can ensure your business is supported around the clock, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity.
  4. Scalability: As your business grows, so will your IT needs. Outsourcing allows for easy scalability and flexibility to meet changing demands.
  5. Proactive monitoring and maintenance. An outsourced IT support team will proactively monitor your systems, identifying and addressing potential issues before they become major problems.
  6. Frees up internal resources. By outsourcing IT support, your internal team can focus on their core responsibilities and tasks, increasing efficiency and productivity within the organization.
  7. Improved security. With cyber threats on the rise, having dedicated IT support can help protect your business from potential breaches or attacks.

Related: The Power of People – How to Utilise Outsourcing Effectively As a Startup

What to Look for in an IT Support Service

If you’re considering outsourcing IT support, you may be wondering what to look for. The following tips will help you make your decision about who to hire.

Find Out How They Keep Up to Date

You don’t want to do business with someone who is behind the times. This is especially important when working with a business in the information technology industry.

Even being a few years behind on technology makes a major difference.

Get a Breakdown of Their Rates

Before hiring outsourced help, get a breakdown of their rates. While you may need to pay one flat rate fee to get them started, you’ll likely find other things you’ll have to pay for separately.

Choose an IT support that charges prices that fit your budget. However, be careful not to choose the lowest prices blindly. Rather, take a holistic approach. You must consider this option if IT support charges slightly higher than your budget but can bring you long-term benefits.

Background And Experience

When searching for IT support, choose a firm that has been operating for several years. Look for top-ranked businesses that have been providing IT support for at least ten years. When the company’s IT team has serviced thousands of similar businesses and has enough knowledge and experience, they can resolve any problems promptly, thus helping you avoid disruptions and be more productive.

Also, ensure the IT support hires only certified technicians with advanced IT diplomas like Computer Engineering Technology.

Reliability

The right IT support has to be highly reliable. They must monitor your IT systems at all times so you never have to worry about technical problems. Reliable service providers should also have contingency and backup plans in case of any mishaps.

Feedback

When choosing a managed service provider, word of mouth and client reviews are the most genuine feedback. Check service providers’ websites and read other firms’ reviews and feedback about their services. This will give you more insight into what type of services they can provide, thus helping you choose the right one according to your business needs.

Trustworthy

If you don’t find a trustworthy IT support service provider, you risk losing confidential data to competitors, which can result in lost sales and a lower market share. The right IT service provider will maintain your privacy and secure your data. They should also carry out a few tasks that include:

  • Detecting unusual activity and infiltrators.
  • Check the operating system and install security software.
  • Resolving security problems and breaches immediately.
  • Creating strong passwords for your networks.

Quick Response Time

How swiftly do they respond to an issue your business might face? Be it a site crash, server breakdown, or system glitch, the expert team of support technicians must be able to respond immediately, as every minute of your business plays a vital role in increasing your revenue.

Choose the IT company that offers the shortest response time. This will save you from sending multiple emails or making numerous calls to get their support when you face a major issue.

Support Scalability

While selecting the best IT support company, it is important to check whether they can handle your technical problems even after expansion.

After the business expansion process, you might have to pay an additional fee for IT support services, as more IT professionals will be working on your behalf.

Range of Services

Even though all the IT support companies claim to offer a mix of services, few only pay attention to offering phone or disaster recovery while handling IT issues. You can also choose the comprehensive packages some companies offer while availing their support services to have more productive days.