Welcome to the third and final installment of our three-part series demonstrating the types of services you should expect from a quality outsourced IT vendor. Part I outlined the support you should expect from a help desk and service team, and Part II showed how your IT vendor should advise on business strategy. Now, we’re featuring the third element of service provided by an outsourced IT vendor, project management and implementation. Part III: Project Team Projects are pre-planned, scheduled activities, like new device installation, software migration, cabling, etc. This role might be filled by the same team that handles your day-to-day support. However, when you’re evaluating an IT partner, it is important for you to understand how they maintain the capacity to respond to daily requests while meeting their pre-scheduled project commitments.
In Part I of this series we outlined the Service Team component of an outsourced IT vendor. The Service Team tends to see the most day-to-day activities from customers since they handle incoming help desk calls and emails. They resolve issues remotely or on-site at the customers’ locations. Plus, they proactively monitor and maintain customer networks to address as many potential issues as possible before end-users ever notice a problem. As you evaluate the benefits of working with an outsourced IT vendor, you’ll want a good understanding of the process for requesting assistance and their guaranteed response and resolution times. Additionally, you’ll want to understand what proactive steps the team takes to resolve issues before they impact business processes and productivity. But it doesn’t stop there - the Service Team is just one component of the relationship you’ll have with a quality IT vendor.
You've reached the point where you know your business needs some more sophisticated IT support than your current model can provide. You've evaluated the options, and are considering working with an outsourced IT vendor or managed service provider. An outsourced IT vendor can handle a lot of different functions for your business, but you're struggling to evaluate the return on the potentially significant investment you're about to make in their services.
Photo Credit: Associated Press Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Co-Owner / Vice President / Business Manager, of JR Motorsports, recently joined her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his Dirty Mo Podcast, to talk about childhood memories growing up together while their dad, Dale Earnhardt, was becoming a NASCAR racing legend. Before the conversation got started Kelley briefly described her ongoing IT problems and uttered a sentiment shared by many executives unnecessarily suffering from unproductive technology. She said, "everybody has IT problems.”
Most businesses launch their operations on a shoestring budget and manage the business on readily available technology. If your business starts in your home, as many do, you probably already have a basic computer, internet connection, and phone service. All you need to do is register a domain name for your website and email, set up a basic website through a web hosting provider and platform, and select an email hosting provider. Eventually, you start to grow and bring on your first few employees. With employees comes more computers and the need to share information and applications. Great employees expect to have the tools and resources to do their jobs well, and you need to spend your time growing the business not dealing with day-to-day technology challenges. You may have a friend or colleague help you with your IT needs, but you’re starting to think you need a bit more support than one person can provide. This is usually around the time when a business starts to think about obtaining some sort of professional IT support. There are a few ways you can go at this point.
"I'm having technical difficulties," is a phrase with which most professionals are all too familiar. While no IT system is ever 100% free from the occasional issue, the most successful business tech support professionals are the ones that keep business downtime to a minimum and implement IT systems that contribute to the company's bottom line. They know that the only effective way to minimize downtime is to proactively troubleshoot IT systems and fix issues BEFORE they cost the company money by impacting end users. Network monitoring systems are a tool that IT professionals use to stay ahead of issues. These tools allow your IT team to work behind the scenes fixing problems you didn't even know you had to keep the business network running smoothly. Your internal IT department can utilize a network monitoring system, or you can work with an outsourced IT vendor or managed service provider that provides a network monitoring service. Network monitoring is an automated piece of network management that audits all network components (servers, firewalls, shared resources, etc.) for failure and optimum performance. A network monitoring system notifies the network administrator of failures that have impacted or could impact the performance of the entire network.
If you're planning to upgrade hardware or networking infrastructure in your business this year, you may see significant cost savings by purchasing that equipment soon (i.e. this month) thanks to increased tariffs on Chinese imports.
From basic desktop computers to complex network infrastructure, all businesses need some sort of technology to operate. With the amount of technology necessary to compete in today's economy, how do businesses maintain margins and absorb ever-growing IT costs? Leasing is an option that reduces your initial investment and allows for the flexibility to adopt new technology based on your business needs and not capital budgets.
Do you have computers in your business operating on Windows 7? Do you feel like you just upgraded away from Windows XP? If that’s the case, you were most likely utilizing Windows XP beyond its April 8, 2014 end of life date and managed just fine without upgrading immediately. So, it makes sense that you are probably not too concerned about upgrading away from Windows 7 any time soon. You survived the last end of life date just fine, and you’ll get through this one too, right? Wrong.