• United States

Forget do-it-yourself support

Mar 27, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Hiring an IT outsource firm can save you money in the long run

Before David Tam landed a job with the Massachusetts Electrical Contractors Association (MECA), he worked for a financial services firm with 100 employees – and four IT staffers.

At his old job, when something went wrong with a PC or the company’s network, one call to tech support resolved most problems. It was a very comforting scenario, Tam says.

Life is very different at MECA, a 400-member trade association with three staffers and no IT person. When something goes awry, MECA relies on The Digiticians, a Waltham, Mass., firm, to provide online and onsite PC and network support and service.

“We don’t have IT problems that often, but when we do we need attentive support,” says Tam, who had to call the service soon after arriving at MECA when his laptop began crashing repeatedly.

Small business owners wear many hats. But for some, the IT-support hat doesn’t fit so well. After “reboot” or “uninstall/reinstall the software,” some owners and employees are stumped on how to troubleshoot problems. And if you have to call the software or hardware manufacturer out of warranty, prices can be exorbitant.

An alternative is to contract with an outside vendor to handle everything from PC purchase and installation, to network integration to general maintenance and repair. The savings can be dramatic. For example, The Digiticians’ online and phone support solution, in which the customer logs on to a Web site and a tech takes control of the PC, costs $15 for 15 minutes. A local computer services company can fetch anywhere from $75 to $175 per hour.

And then there’s the downtime. “When your PC crashes, you’ve got to spend time or money fixing it, and while it’s down you’re out of business,” Digiticians CEO Kenneth Smith says.

Need to find your own computer tech? Ask around. Talk with peers or fellow business owners about whom they use, or call a local computer reseller – either a superstore or a smaller company – to see whom they recommend. Always ask for references.

Tam suggests finding a company with:

A remote solution service. This way, a tech can troubleshoot the problem remotely, as opposed to trying to talk you through a fix over the phone or driving to your office.

24-7 service. PCs don’t crash at opportune times.

The ability to assign one tech for your company. Familiarity breeds comfort – and faster solutions, once he or she gets to know your system.