Pop Quiz: Ask Your Smartest Employee These 3 Tech Questions

Shortly after I started working in the IT industry about 10 years ago, I got introduced to a new term.  My boss talked about a potential client and labeled them an “accidental techie”.  This term has stuck with me over the years as we’ve grown our managed services practice and liberated many business owners and key employees from the duties of IT support and allowed them to focus on core competencies.

What my boss had astutely observed was that many small businesses grow organically.  The digital world that we live in requires technology to run almost every business.  As the business grows there is an increased need to collaborate efficiently, share files, secure confidential information and client data, automate processes, and much more.

The duty to figure out solutions for those items often get handed to an owner, a COO, or a CFO.  Sometimes an office manager or someone else who is “good with computers” gets roped in.  These individuals are “accidental techies”.  They have no IT training.  They weren’t hired to manage the company’s technology.  Strategically it’s probably costing the company significantly to have their focus split from the job they were originally hired to do.

So, we propose a test.  Ask your smartest employee these 3 tech questions.  We’ll tell you want the answers would be if you had IT professionals on your side.  Then you can judge for yourself if you may benefit from professional help.

  1. What is our plan for network security, and protecting our confidential data?

Pretty basic question.  Security is a place where many accidental techies struggle.  Professional IT solutions providers will give you a layered security solution.  They’ll start with a properly configured business class firewall.  The best ones will ensure the firewall has perimeter defenses in place for gateway antimalware, gateway antispyware, and real time cyber threat intelligence.

A quality IT provider will pair that with a solution to manage security patches across all machines on the network.  They’ll provide antivirus for all those machines.  Solutions for encryption will be recommended if needed, along with spam filters and content filtering.

Having a plan in place for network security is crucial for a small business.  A data breach can sink your business and destroy your clients trust.  If your “accidental techie” doesn’t have a good solution in place its probably a good idea to consult a professional.

  1. What is our backup and disaster recovery plan?

This is another telling question worth asking.  Essentially what you want to understand is can you recover your data if you have a hardware or other failure.  Past that, is there a plan in place to get your data back if you have an entire site taken down by fire, theft, or other disaster.

Another thing worth understanding is how long will it take to get back operational?  What is your companies cost of downtime?

According to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington,” Twenty percent of small- to medium-size businesses will suffer a major disaster causing loss of critical data every 5 years. Furthermore, ninety three percent of companies that lost their data for ten days or more filed bankruptcy within one year of the disaster and fifty percent filed for bankruptcy immediately.”

A professional IT provider will be able to answer these questions intelligently.  They will have a way to monitor their backup solution to ensure it happens as planned, and the ability to alert a technician immediately if backups fail.

They can talk with you about solutions for local and offsite backups.  This allows you to recover your data even if you have a site disaster.  Time estimates for recovery allow you to know what to expect if a disaster does happen and how it will affect your business.

The best providers will be able to lay out a backup plan including all these factors to give you a sense of security that your data will be protected.

  1. How fast can you respond to IT issues with your other job duties?

Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.”  This applies doubly in business where time is money.  Frequently the accidental techie is wearing many hats.  They are trying to perform whatever job duties they were hired for and do IT at the same time.  This frequently results in an “I’ll get to it when I can” attitude.  Alternatively, it causes them to switch tasks often causing a loss in productivity.

If IT issues are bad enough that employees can’t work, there is a cost associated.  It may make sense to look at all the factors involved for your business to determine your own cost of downtime.  Slow response times because of other priorities or lack of training may be costing you more than you think.

A quality IT provider will guarantee their response times.  They will proactively monitor the network to prevent issues from happening in the first place.  The helpdesk will have a defined process in place to ensure that every issue is logged and attended to in a timely manner.  The very best ones will be able to report to you on their response times and show value.

Conclusion

If you ask your smartest employee these 3 tech questions and their answers leave something to be desired it may be time to talk to some professionals.  i.t.NOW offers flat rate IT solutions priced for small business.  We can give you a complete IT solution for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee.  This gives you the ability to have your key employees focused on the tasks that are most strategic for your business.  Call us today for help with all of your small and medium business technology needs.