Managing your IT support provider
The other articles in this section, "Managing IT", should be read in conjunction with this page. They include:
- Role of IT the support provider
- Choosing an IT support provider
- Role of the IT contact person in your office
This page describes some ideas for the IT contact person about managing the relationship with your IT support provider. These include:
- Be the sole contact point in your office for the provider.
- Avoid having a long-term contract with them.
- Keep a log of requests for support, actions taken and outcomes.
- Communicate with them by email.
- Discuss with them what your role is.
Sole contact point
It's best that one person – the IT contact person – aggregate support requests from staff and then contact the IT support provider.
See Role of the IT contact person in your office for more information.
See Choosing an IT support provider for a discussion about the pros and cons of contracting a provider on a long-term basis.
Log of support requests
It is important to have log of support requests which includes responses from the provider. (Providers are often loath to log their responses, mostly because once they finish tasks at your office they have other clients to visit.)
If the provider will not write things down, do it yourself. Before they leave, read the request/s to them, get their response and write it in the log.
The benefits of keeping a log are:
- It provides a history of work done.
- It reveals issues that have not been addressed and gives reasons why not. (This can be useful in reassuring staff that their issues were not forgotten.)
- It provides a history of decisions made. This can be useful in unpacking why some actions were taken and about the current status of the system.
- It provides focus for the IT support provider. Otherwise, with the best will in the world, a provider may do a lot of work on something other than what you called them in for.
Communicating by email can help to keep track of the status of support requests. Many providers use email keep track of things from their end.
You can also copy and paste the contents of emails into the log.
A good IT support provider will appreciate having someone in your office who can:
- describe problems coherently and in a uniform way
- complete non-technical task that would assist the provider. For example:
- writing up a register of accounts and who has access to what
- writing up any policy decisions made during a visit by the provider
- maintaining the support requests log
- organising the shared filing system.
You will need to keep an eye on the contractor while cultivating a relationship that will benefit your organisation. This will involve:
- Seeing that the provider responds to requests for support.
- Documenting and querying the provider's decision-making and processes.
- Discussing with the provider alternative strategies to solving problems.
You should discuss with the support contractor how you can support each other's roles. For example: you might perform certain tasks that allow the contractor to more easily provide network support, while you might benefit from the advice of your contractor when organising the shared filing system.