Virus infections, network connections, PC tuneups, connecting a printer or a scanner, and general consultative help are available for up to five computers for $1,200 a year from Symantec, and on up to 10 computers for $2,400.
To me that sounds like a good deal. Yet the post where I learned about the service calls it "pricey."
"You can almost buy five desktops for that price," reported David Strom at Read Write Web.
Looks like a case of a writer not understanding what it takes to run a service business. It also shows little understanding how valuable such a service is to small business owners.
In my experience, every growing firm of five has at least one staff member who possesses little understanding of technology and is, thus, prone to tech problems. These are people who are nice enough, maybe even wonderful in other ways, but who simply make little or no effort to learn more about the software they use daily. It could be your spouse.
Instead of making your internal staff service your wife, you outsource the job to Norton.
The emotional savings could be enormous and your geeky IT staffer can stay focused on more strategically important tech tasks instead of focusing so much time on your spouse.
Norton Ultimate Help Desk Service promises to ensure all your Microsoft Office apps run properly on all your computers and will remove viruses, spyware, and other threats from all of your firm's PCs. Printer sharing and smart phone support -- including setting up PC software and synchronizing your phone with your PC -- are also covered.
Advisors with five PCs usually have a network consultant who makes periodic visits or who only comes when called to fix a problem. Advisors with firms that own 10 PCs usually have an office "geek" who helps support in-house technology systems but that person likely is also responsible for downloading data from custodians, setting up clients with account aggregation, and other geekwork, plus they may have a quarterly visit from a tech consultant.
Norton Ultimate Help Desk Service's (NUHDS) won't cover a lot of issues that come up in an advisory business. For instance, it won't cover operating system other than Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, or Microsoft Windows 7. Mac OS users are out of luck. It won't support PortfolioCenter, Redtail, or financial advice apps. It won't even cover Quickbooks. NUHDS also won't cover problems caused by your hardware, domain or password problems, social media apps like LinkedIn, or games, and they won't train your staff.
That's a long list.
To Norton's credit, however, it defines the scope of the engagement and sets a fair price.
NUHDS' target market aims to serve 80% of U.S. private wealth advisors. That's how many advisory firms do not employ a full-time IT Director, in my estimation. For firms without full-time IT staff, NUHDS is a deal.
To an advisor running a firm with five or 10 PCs, having a backup service desk to support mission critical apps for $1,200 a year is not just a nice-to-have, it's a necessity.
Even if you have a tech consultant or in-house geek, letting an outside company help with servicing technology to your staff and internal management information systems makes you less dependent on a single employee, which is always a goal for business owners. If your key tech expert is sick or gets stuck in Aruba when a disaster hits your ofice, you want to have help in addition to that Aruba-stranded lottery winner.
Keep in mind, many vendors other than Norton provide help desk services. Brian Edelman, an all-too-infrequent contributor on A4A, runs such a service through his company, Financial Computer Services. Since Edelman doesn't publicly list the price of the service on his website, we can't say whether Edelman's service costs less or more than Norton's. That does not matter much.
The important part, however, is outsourcing your growing firm's need for tech support. Which product you choose is not nearly as important.
Let me know about your experience with a tech support outsource service.