I have recently been making some long overdue changes to our house.
I started by landscaping the garden. It was a complex job and I didn’t have a clue where to start. Naturally I turned to good old Google for advice and inspiration. I was bombarded with info; companies who claimed to be experts in general landscaping, specialists in paving, in planting. And all offering vastly different estimates for the work I wanted. Stressful, time-consuming stuff!
Fortunately, I had a good idea of exactly how I wanted my garden to look so I was able to narrow down the choice to a company that said they specialised in my exact requirements. They were a larger provider, gave us a good discount and assured us they could deliver. The summer has now passed and our garden still isn’t complete and we had to spend a lot of time guiding and advising them on what to do.
The bathroom was next on the hit list after our shower sprung a very large leak. This time we went out and spoke to companies directly, checked their testimonials, and any accreditations. The company we selected on first glance their prices seemed a bit higher, they were a smaller team, but I could see they really knew their stuff – and it paid off! Rather than being a transactional conversation they were very strategic in their approach.
Not only were they able to deliver what I wanted, their years of expertise allowed them to make a few genius suggestions that I never would have come up with myself. And the results are excellent.
How do you find the right ‘expert’?
I’m a big believer that when you want something done properly, you have to turn to an expert.
The problem is the word ‘expert’ isn’t a standard term — experts come in different shapes, sizes, levels of skill and areas of specialist knowledge. As I discovered when searching for landscapers.
And the technology sector is no different. Technology is an integral part of business these days and can have a major impact on operations so it’s not something you can entrust to just anyone. However, the technology sector is one that many people find confusing, and even a little bit scary, so when it comes to searching for professional IT help, business owners struggle to know what the best option might be.
There are a plethora of options out there from companies offering very general IT support to IT firms that specialize in one particular area — all of whom offer services at varying price points. So how do you know who to trust to take care of your IT needs? We take a dive into the world of IT support to help you decide whether an IT generalist or IT specialist will be the most effective choice for you and your business.
Hiring an IT Generalist Company
IT Generalist companies usually have more diverse solutions to customers’ problems and often provide additional services which may support other IT needs in the organization. They may favour a holistic approach, taking your full IT system and wider needs into consideration.
Initial outlay may be lower when hiring an IT Generalist company which can be particularly helpful for startups or companies that are desperate to save money.
While IT Generalist companies are highly knowledgeable, they may have insufficient experience of certain areas meaning they won’t necessarily have access to the right solution for your specific IT challenges.
Because the IT industry is so fast-paced, generalists can find it difficult to stay abreast of changes to best practice in every applicable area. There simply aren’t enough hours in the week to keep on top of every new development which may reduce the ability to deliver an effective solution — hiring a generalist who constantly has to resort to Google to get the job done, could have consequences on both their bill and the results they deliver.
Hiring an IT Specialist Company
IT Specialist companies focus on certain core competencies. These companies have a wealth of experience when it comes to implementing solutions within their area of expertise, and so provide high quality products and/or services. They should also provide impartial recommendations according to your budget and preferences and help guide you with good advice.
Long-lasting client relationships
Due to their high skill level, and higher costs, IT Specialists tend to win the trust of their clients, often forming a partner-like relationship rather than a purely transactional one. They can help you look at your business plan and help you decide on the critical business areas where their spend will be most effective.
IT Specialists are considered experts in their field. Customers appreciate that this level of technical know-how and service comes at a slightly higher price.
Certain specialists may be limited in the scope of services they provide so they might not be the best fit for every business.
The alternative approach: IT Specialists with a Generalist Mindset
We realise that neither of the above options are ideal, but it is possible to find more balanced solutions – IT specialists operating with a generalist mindset. Just like my landscapers, it’s important to find a company that looks beyond the basic expectations of their clients, and draws upon experience to develop a sound understanding of your entire IT system, identifying any opportunities for efficiency.
You need a detailed approach to technology implementation and user adoption, and ideally services that include document migration, training, support and change management.
In summary… As with so many decisions in life and in business, it’s a question of figuring out how to get the most bang for your buck — without compromising on quality of service. And there’s the rub.
In theory, an IT generalist may well do a decent job and in today’s financial climate we understand the pressure SME owners are under to save pennies wherever they can.
In our experience, however, to reap the benefits of working with real experts who take a holistic approach to your business IT needs, it really is a case of ‘you get what you pay for’, as some recent clients found out. Having paid an IT generalist to move their data onto SharePoint (called a ‘lift and shift’!), we were later called in to restructure and tag everything.
A true example of the old adage, ‘pay cheap, pay twice’.
Investing in specialist support will likely cost you a little more upfront — as a business owner, you have to consider whether cost cutting now is likely to come back to hit you in the wallet further down the line.
Finding the right Office 365 support doesn’t have to be a minefield. Whether you know exactly what you need help with or you feel a bit lost and want some guidance, we are always happy to help if you need any further advice or information.
Need SharePoint support? Our blog has a wealth of SharePoint tips and hacks for making life easier for the Office 365 user.