How Do You Support Small Business IT Infrastructure Remotely?

Posted by Sean Kline on Wed, Jul 03, 2013 @ 10:19 AM

One of the common questions that I get from owners who need their small business IT infrastructure supported is how can an external company perform support remotely and effectively?

small business it infrastructure

There is a natural desire to have someone on site who can deal with issues right there.  The problem is that this instinct is not generally based in fact and in many cases is it more costly to try to perform support through an employee or some other on site resource.

  • Myth: Most information technology issues need to be resolved on site
  • Fact: 90-95% of all reactive support issues are resolved remotely

Most small businesses either do not invest in a reactive support ticketing system or do not analyze the data.  As an IT managed services provider, this is something that we use every day and we study the resultant data on an on-going basis.  The fact is that 90-95% of our support tickets are resolved remotely.  While we can certainly dispatch technicians if needed, the reality is that it is typically not needed.  In my experience, there are several scenarios to consider regarding an IT support strategy for a small business:

  1. Technology does not impact profit.  In this case, it may well be worth having someone manage support part-time and relying on an external vendor for support beyond the skills of in-house people.  Employee productivity will be lower, risk will be higher and technology will not be optimized, but in this scenario the pain of not doing anything does not outweigh the cost of doing it right.
  2. The IT support process causes significant pain.  When one is able to identify significant business pain such as lost employee productivity, impacts on sales and increased risk due to security incidents, it may be time to re-evaluate.  These pain points are generally symptoms of an IT process that is out of alignment.  This is a common occurrance when a small business that does not have an expertise in this domain attempts to manage their own technology.  In general the person they put in place to handle this role has neither the skills nor bandwidth across all technology areas needed to do it in a way that shields the business from pain.
  3. Technology is so strategic, it is worth a premium.  In some cases, business owners are willing to invest a person in-house or a part of a person to liase with the business while also putting in an aligned IT support process.  This is typically overpaying and such a decision may be made emotionally, but at least from this starting point, the end results will be good and the internal resource may be weaned away from information technology over time, if appropriate.
Part of the key to providing support remotely is the reduction in support incidents that occur over time. When an IT support process is out of alignment, there are many more support incidents per employee per month than there need be.  This may have a huge impact on employee productivity and is the real cost of IT support in contrast to any salaries associated with IT or vendor costs.  As the root cause of these issues are identified through a proactive support process, there is a reduction in support incidents and it becomes increasingly easier to provide remote support.  The other aspect is that the reality is that today's technology enables remote support through a variety of means, both automated and manual.  We live in a world in which we may deliver better business results through people, process and tools, independent of where we are.
Key takeaways:
  • 90-95% of support incidents may be resolved remotely
  • The degree to which technology is strategic and impactful in the business drives the level to which the support process should be aligned
  • A proactive support process will drive reactive support incidents down, facilitzting remote support
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Topics: small business it support, small business IT infrastructure