Chris House, IT Consultant at Mark J Rees LLP, points out that all small businesses really need some IT support. And if you have it, you may as well use it…
It’s becoming more and more common for accountancy firms to offer IT support to clients. My own experience is that it complements our other services and provides a great deal of reassurance to small and medium-sized businesses.
Typically we’ll troubleshoot problems that come up or try to respond to our client’s queries on any IT issues. But if you do have this kind of support in place, it’s important that you actually use it!
Recently, we had a call from a client who was no longer receiving emails to their small network of around 10 PCs. After doing some standard checks, it emerged that they had decided to change their internet service provider, without talking to us first.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong in principle with making a change in infrastructure – particularly if you’ve been offered a better connection at a lower cost – but there are some potential drawbacks if you don’t think things through.
The ISP had sent over a new router which our client had simply plugged in. Although access to the internet was immediate, the IP address for the business email systems had changed. This meant that once the old service had been switched off, emails were disappearing into the ether. If they can’t find a destination server, they are lost en route.
The situation is easily avoided if you put certain records in place and then effectively redirect the emails. The process can, however, take up to 48 hours to take effect. That’s why addressing the problem in advance would have been so much better than trying to tackle it at a later stage.
Remember, it’s easy for a salesperson to explain the virtues of a switch of ISP, while glossing over any potential logistical problems the change can create.
Another client was due to switch over to a new internet provider, but had turned off their previous connection a week early. As a result, they were left in digital Limbo. We advised them to pay to reconnect the original service, as no business can afford to be without access to the web and email in the modern age for several days at a time.
So my message is don’t always assume changing your provider will be a piece of cake.
If you have IT support available to you, make sure you take advantage of it! Alternatively, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.