What I Do
What’s my job?
If you’re a sole trader or small business, I’m your IT systems administrator, manager and helpdesk support technician. But it might help to think of me as an IT version of a virtual assistant. When you don’t want to hire a full member of staff, however small you are, you can hire me instead, for as many hours a month as you need – or for a particular project. I look after all the same things as you’d expect your IT guy to do, but from a distance.
How does it work?
For some kinds of IT work, a project is the best way to go, where you get a fixed fee for a fixed set of work. For other stuff, like the unpredictable and the ‘helpdesk’ kind of stuff, it works well to set up a monthly agreement for a number of hours. Here’s how they both work.
When you want something new set up, I’ll put together a proposal and quote with a fixed fee for the whole job. I don’t quote this kind of work as a number of hours with an hourly rate because I don’t want you to have any surprises and I don’t want the budget to creep up. It also doesn’t make sense for me to be paid more if I work slower or have to fix my own mistakes, so I always include unlimited support for a month after the project for any fixes or parts that don’t work as we discussed. If someone didn’t quite make it work in the first place, why should you have to pay them to fix their own mistakes? With a fixed fee you always know you’re getting what you asked for, fully working, and how much you’re paying for it.
It should be a rare occasion that any unforeseen charges need to be added. Usually this would only happen if the scope of the project changed, say if you asked me to set up some additional features for you that we hadn’t originally discussed, and I’d make sure you knew before you agree that these hours would be charged on top of the original quote.
Examples of project WOrk
- Office 365/Email migration – This is the most common fixed-fee project I’ve done. I’ve moved a few smaller businesses who were having trouble with their basic email accounts over to Office 365, not only sorting out their current issues but giving them a lot more possibilities to develop their business processes using Office 365’s various other features.
- Other Office 365 feature setup – Once they’ve moved to 365 – or maybe you’ve set this up yourself – you’ll want to set up file sharing, Teams collaboration, or some of the other new features. I’ve done stuff like this as standalone projects, where you pick what you want set up and I get it going for you.
- Google Apps (now G Suite) – I’ve done the same migration and setup work using Google’s G Suite of business systems – setting up email, file sharing, and other collaboration so your business can work well across the board.
- Basic email forwarders – A very quick and cheap mini-project, I can quite easily get you a more professional-looking email address to put on your publicity by forwarding something like firstname.lastname@example.org to your personal address. Your business cards don’t have to have email@example.com on them any more!
- Almost anything else – If you had an IT department, what would you ask them to do for you? What is the one IT thing right now that’s slowing your business down? Why not ask me whether anything can be done about it? Maybe fixing it will save you time and make that money back over time. I’m very happy to give you some initial advice for no charge, so you can work on it yourself or maybe ask me to quote for doing the work for you.
Monthly Support Agreements
The other way is to book a regular monthly support agreement, where you pay for a fixed number of hours per month. Booking more hours a month brings the price down. I’ll also carry over unused hours for a while so you don’t have to worry about losing what you’ve paid for. I can’t promise to deliver all the accumulated hours at once though, depending on capacity.
This kind of contract works well if you know you have various IT needs coming up at random, and need me on the end of a helpdesk to answer or fix things, or putting hours in towards some development goal that’s harder to define as a project.
You can use these hours for anything you like, whether that’s user support or helping you plan how to use a new cloud service, helping you answer fiddly technical questions or giving advice, or helping your staff understand the tools they have in front of them with some basic training. Just like a real IT department, I’ll also start keeping an eye out and looking proactively for ways I think you could improve your business using tools you already have, and you can decide if you want to pursue them.
Unless you’re living nearby – that is, near where the Charente, Vienne and Deux-Sevres départements meet – all my work for you will be done remotely. This obviously means that there are a few things I can’t do, and you’d still need a local hardware person to help fix a broken computer or external hard drive. You’d be surprised how much can be done remotely though, especially as more of your work starts to involve cloud services.