Your small business is growing, and that’s exciting. But your excitement may be tempered by the “what if” questions, like, “What if our internet connection goes out and we don’t know how to fix it?” Who is going to be behind the help desk software you use?
There’s no designated “right” time to hire a tech support person, but if you’ve thought about it you should ask yourself several questions:
• If a hard disk crashed, could we recover quickly using our backups (which we make regularly and faithfully)?
• Could we cope if we found out the critical software we need only runs on Windows, and our shop is full of Macs?
• Are we getting the best deal on the laptops we’re buying for our six new hires?
• Can we move our accounting and payroll processes to the cloud without causing chaos and mass hysteria?
If you answer “No” to any of these, you at least need a strategy for coping, which might mean bringing in an independent tech support contractor. Answering “No” to several may mean it’s time to start thinking about hiring an IT support person. If so, you can search for potential hires by working with a technical recruiter or by speaking with faculty at your local technical college. Once you’ve developed a short list of people to interview, here are the things to look for in your new tech support professional.
How the Candidate Handles Tech Support Requests
Today’s cloud help desk software can be scaled for a company of 10 or a company of 5,000. The IT service desk, even in a small business, has to be run in an orderly and efficient manner. What IT service desk structures do the individual candidates prefer? Is Candidate A married to the outdated phone-and-sticky-notes technique? Will Candidate B not even consider a different service desk solution than the one he uses in his current job? You want someone who knows what works, but who is willing to be flexible to support your enterprise.
How the Interviewee Gets On With Others
Can your tech support person ask questions and explain concepts without always relying on tech-speak?
Your tech support professional doesn’t have to be a social butterfly, but he or she should be able to communicate with your staff courteously, and know how to ask questions when more information from the end-user is needed. There’s nothing wrong with the introverted tech support person, as long as she’s willing to ask questions, listen, and communicate with management appropriately.
The Candidate’s Experience With Your Company’s Information Systems
Your IT support person may have to deal with your network, individual machines, cloud applications, VoIP phones, and more. He should have experience getting balky printers to perform and should know how to install patches and upgrades that will keep your systems working properly and securely.
And Speaking of Security …
Businesses of every size are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, so you need to hire someone who understands the threats and knows how to keep your systems secure. She should understand how to work with firewalls, anti-virus software, and spam filters, and should be able to propose a plan of action should an attack occur.
Also, this person will have full administrative login credentials, and hence access to mission critical data. If your business involves financial transactions in particular, you’ll want to run a criminal background check.
How the Candidate Will Spend Time Other than Reacting to Help Tickets
Unless your IT infrastructure is a real pig’s breakfast, your tech support person won’t spend all his time responding to help tickets. Is he willing to take on other IT-related tasks, like developing an IT asset management program, helping end-users select the best software for their needs, or creating a plan for helping IT evolve as your company grows? Is he capable of helping you recruit and train new IT personnel when they’re needed? You won’t get your money’s worth from an IT support person who does nothing but reset passwords and play Flappy Bird all day.
Hiring your first IT support person is a big step, and it’s a smart step. Sure, the average consumer is far more tech savvy than he was a decade or two ago, but IT as a whole is much more complex now, and having someone on staff who can cope with IT problems can confer peace of mind and help your company avoid unnecessary growing pains.