A single computer can usually be set up and operated by someone who is not an IT expert. However, unless you have in-house expertise, you may need external help to:
- install more complicated systems such as a server client or peer to peer network
- train your staff on using the equipment
- maintain and service your equipment regularly
You may also need ongoing support services, such as those through the manufacturer or supplier's support helpdesk. Access to a helpdesk can be either by phone or via the internet, at no cost or by subscription.
Be sure to find out what the exact charges are, how long the help lasts for and, if possible, whether the helpdesk has a good reputation.
Hardware maintenance contracts
You may also want a maintenance contract from either your supplier or an independent maintenance company. There are generally two types of maintenance arrangement:
- On-site cover, which involves someone coming to your premises to make repairs, can get your system running again quickly but may be expensive.
- Return-to-base repairs, which involve sending your equipment away to be repaired, may be cheaper, but can also be inconvenient.
Service level agreements (SLAs)
You should also establish the quality of the service. For example, check whether the engineers work to ISO 9000 standard and what quality of parts they use. For a business-critical system, you may want an SLA which guarantees repair or replacement at short notice when a fault occurs.
See more on supplier service level agreements.
You can find a lot of information about computer hardware on the internet. You may also be able to find documentation, support forums and upgrades to software on the supplier's website.
It's worth remembering that to get the most from any new technology, employees often need training and support for a new computer system. For more information, see IT skills and support for your staff.