A business guide to trouble free technology – making your IT work for you

Technology is everywhere especially in the work place, some of us are lucky enough to escape it at home but there is no escaping It when you walk out your front door.    Most people have little understanding of the underlying technology and are happy as long as they can do their job, read their email and surf the Internet. Although true for most people, those in management, who have little or no understanding of the underlying systems, it is a lot more complicated.

Management are happy to surround themselves with people who know what is going on but how do management know that they are being told the correct information. This means that management need to find a solution to the dilemma that has been created by the technology that they use – doing the required job correctly, protecting the business data and make the job as easy as possible.

Technology, in today’s business world and moving forward into the future, is not going to get any less complicated.     Therefore management have to balance the business requirement of getting the job done with the complexity of what is “under the hood” so to speak.

Trouble free technology that delivers trouble free IT can be summed up with two points – taking ownership of the problems created by the technology, and delivering the right business outcomes to the business.

Although both of these points can be delivered internally it is a lot more cost effective to have them delivered by an outside or outsourced managed services provider (MSP).

Trouble free IT relies on the ability to deliver the required services with minimal excuses and to keep the business running at peak efficiency.

How do you know that you are employing the right MSP for your business?   The right MSP will deliver the following benefits to any business no matter what size.

1. Reduced costs.

A good MSP can reduce your business technology and support costs by as little as 10% or as much as 50% depending on the business requirements.   That is no idle boast, an MSP can deliver those savings through not only keeping your staff more productive for longer but also supporting them with on site, off site technical support, help desk and monitoring and management of your business critical systems.

Have you noticed that inside a small or medium business everyone seems to get involved in a problem, not only because it is difficult and everyone needs help but because it is just human nature.   When this happens and an insignificant problem arises and escalates that ” Everyone is involved” wastes time and money for the business.   It is more beneficial for the business to log a call and have someone external remote in or physically come in and fix it with no additional costs and as a part of the ongoing management program.

A good MSP will have a single monthly cost, incurred by the business, that covers all of the callouts that are generated by your business. There should be no extra or additional costs involved in any call outs between 0830 and 1730.   Not only is this something that a good MSP should be offering but it is their responsibility to ensure that they do not lose money by having a large number of problems associated with your business.

No problems for your business means better revenue and profits, no problems for them means that they can deliver better service and features – a win win situation for both parties. Your trouble free technology and IT delivery should include all helpdesk, remote and onsite work started and completed within business hours.    In some instances it could also include a regular onsite visit.   I can hear the MSP’s from here, why would you include a regular onsite visit, we use it to generate repore with our clients.   A regular visit by a technical person who fixes little problems and interacts with the users is absolutely priceless in keeping a client happy. The only additional cost, depending on the MSP, should be out of hours support, but this should also be specified in the service level agreement between the two businesses.

2. Increased management capability.

All business management, no matter the size of the business, needs to know what their technology is doing.    Is the server running out of drive space, are you having problems with your Internet connection, is the server slow or have all of the latest security updates been applied to the business.    These are critical to the business.   How do you know all of these things are happening.

The MSP should be delivering at least monthly reports based on all of the above. These reports combined with regular discussions concerning your business direction are critical to ensuring that your  business is agile and resilient to any changes.    Changes to how the business does business are critical to the technology that you intend to deploy.   Not only large changes but small ones can have a large impact on the business technology required to deliver the expected business outcomes.

So if you are looking at cloud based Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems, looking to use social media for your marketing, upgrading or replacing hardware and software, then these are all areas where a good MSP will save you money if not substantial pain and grief.   Before you make these types of business decisions and embark on the newest, shiniest and most expensive course of action discuss it with an MSP to ensure that you will get a decent return on investment for your money.

3. Standardisation of systems.

So your business and staff wants to use tablets and smart phones, what types, all or only a specific type, how many are you going to set up and  how will they integrate into the available system and finally how are you going to secure the data when they are away from the office.   These are all questions that need to be addressed prior to the implementation.   These answers and decisions do not need to take long to make but they do need to be addressed so that management can make the correct decision.

The proliferation of BYOD into the business workspace is making this requirement critical. These types of decisions also include hardware and software for the office.   If your business standardises on one type of hardware – apple or Intel – one type of operating system and one version of productivity software then the management of your business technology is so much easier for all concerned.   Standardisation also makes trouble shooting problems associated with  any of the systems easier to solve.

4. Increased business capability

The right MSP will deliver increased business capability by just knowing what is going on in the technical world.

The newest and best systems maybe what you need to give you the edge over your competition but there maybe better and easier ways of doing things.   A good MSP should fill the niche in your business for the following positions, CIO, IT Manager, Business Analysts and helpdesk manager.   This will then give your business the required depth to compete with larger companies.

Trouble free IT can be delivered to most small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations by a qualified Managed Services Provider.   The previous 4 points are only the beginning, a good MSP will address and deliver a number of other features when it comes to the management of your business IT infrastructure.

These include;

Advice

A good MSP knows what is happening in the space where the technology is coming from, in some instances they already have trained personnel in the new technology and furthermore they have experimented with it and worked out where it would be beneficial to their clients.   Cloud services, smart devices and social media are noticeable areas where business is going and in most situations are already there.

Auditing and documentation

When an MSP starts on your business they will automatically do an audit and document what you already have.   This may have been done prior to them assuming the role of technical support through a free introduction package.   The audit and documentation is also beneficial to management as it delivers an in-depth understanding of where the business has invested and where it will need to invest in the future.

BC and DR

The best MSP in the world will not be able to help if you do not have a bullet proof Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.   If you do not have one when the MSP assumes responsibility for your technology then one will appear very quickly.   Even if one has already been produced a good MSP will check and test it before going forward.

Once the SLA  has been signed it is then their responsibility to ensure that you have a working BC and DR plan. There is no escaping technology – it is everywhere.   It is always evolving.   It is making business harder and more complicated as well as making it easier to deliver the required business outcomes.

As an executive, owner or manager it is imperative that you utilise technology in the most efficient, effective and cost-friendly way possible.

If you wondering how do you do that when you aren’t a technology expert?    The answer – surround yourself with others who are and get yourself an good MSP.

Roger Smith, is an educator. Teaching students at ADFA (UNSW) and showing them how vulnerable they are to cybercrime.

He is also CEO at R & I ICT Consulting Services Pty Ltd, an Amazon #1 author on Cybercrime and founder of the SME Security Framework. He is a Consultant who specialises in inexpensive and highly effective security strategies for small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations.

He has developed and authored the SME Security Framework and the Security Policy Training Course which are considered to be the definitive guides to helping SME's protect their organisation using the principles of Technology, Management, Adaptability and Compliance.

Leave a Reply