By David Stitt, VP Sales and Marketing, I/OVision
It is common knowledge within the MSP industry that the reactive ‘break fix’ approach to IT support is not a sustainable practice. Like the firefighters of centuries ago, MSP’s have learned that waiting and hoping for the call to put out a ‘fire’ so they get paid and keep their firehouse in business is NOT the best practice for the MSP industry or the clients they serve.
Firefighters of today take a much more proactive approach to firefighting by working with the government, public, employers, builders, landlords, homeowners and the occupants to educate, legislate, monitor, inspect and enforce fire prevention best practices. It is these efforts that have minimized the frequency and severity of firefighting “after hour calls” significantly reducing the negative impact to society including property damage and in the worst cases - loss of life.
Although, the worst case scenario for an MSP “after-hour call” is NOT nearly as severe as that of a firefighter, much can be learned from our brave fire fighters and their modern proactive approach to a very real and every present threat. By proactively educating, monitoring, inspecting and budgeting for an I.T. infrastructure that delivers the best ROI with clients, the frequency and severity of after-hours calls can be reduced significantly. The impact of this approach benefits not just the MSP but everyone including the employers and the employees by minimizing the frustration that has a direct negative impact on morale, and most importantly productivity.
I.T. is the ‘tool’ of the modern information age knowledge worker and if the tool is not working properly then that worker’s productive suffers. The ‘trades’ have known this for centuries and the most successful trades people ensure that their tools are working optimally for them by proactively inspecting, repairing and/or replacing tools as required. Why do they do this? Because time is money in one of the most expensive labor markets in the world and they cannot afford to waste it. I.T. tools are equally important for the modern information age knowledge worker and I.T. tools should be managed no differently.
Technical Business Reviews
To stay ahead of the competition, the I.T. discussion needs to be elevated to the boardroom. Assessments of the environment should be top of mind during budget reviews and management meetings. Decisions affect I.T. and I.T. can help leaders make informed decisions to enhance productivity, cut costs, and drive profit centers for a business. When considered alongside growth plans and yearly targets, productivity and cost savings should follow. Plans should include educating client employees to proactively seek help from their MSP quickly to minimize any IT issues or frustration, helping optimize productivity and minimize the likelihood of an after hour call.
Education of constant security threats is key in preventing users from clicking infected files or links, causing after hours outages as ransomware proliferates the web. Early detection and prevention systems ensure that if an infection occurs during business hours we can address it before the end of the day. Trend analysis via monitored training allows us to identify human risks and make sure additional security enhancements are in place for the “offending” users. This includes proper lockdown of the user profile and ensuring that they only have access to what they need.
Proactive Monitoring and Inspecting
Once you have an I.T. structure in place and running at peak performance, you can never turn your back on the system. Today the demand for complex and robust technology foundations is the new standard with classic desktops. From the Cloud, to BYOD, to 24/7 service, it never stops and should not have to as the world is a much smaller place and the sun is always up somewhere on the planet.
Technology solution and support providers are required to be watching 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in a preventative mode to keep things working all the time. Many clients cannot afford the full robust environment to prevent downtime so they require their support team to be watching all aspects of the technology from the security threats who enter the system to steal your valuable data, to simple downtime caused by classic hardware failure or connectivity issues with your internet provider. They all need to work together all the time.
MSP’s like I/OVision partner with proven technology partners to protect our clients from worldwide security threats and to watch over internal internet traffic for unwanted activity. If we are not watching the traffic in detail we can easily miss the activity of stealth infection that could be gathering confidential company data and shipping it overseas.
Using Remote Monitoring and Management tools along with extensive communications systems we know what is happening all the time with our client’s technology. The goal is to have it repaired before the start of the workday to keep our clients teams functioning. Knowing exactly where the issue lies in complex environments, RAID, Power, Connectivity, Internet, etc., helps significantly improve the speed in which issues are resolved, again reducing client downtime.
With the demand for more technology and software, comes the demand for more tools such as third party software update management. At one time is was just windows that required updates, now there are so many supporting software such as Adobe, Java, Chrome, Players, Plug-Ins, etc. that require constant updates to reduce the risk of infections.
Every year the threats continue to grow, and at the same time, the old ones are still around. We continue to have to layer on more and more protection while maintaining the existing tools. This creates more cogs in the wheel every year, causing the productivity vs. security balancing act to become even more complex. Just as the automobile industry is becoming more complex, preventing individuals from performing do-it-yourself tasks other than oil and gas, the I.T. industry is now at the same level where you require an expert to manage and mitigate your organizations risk to protect your brand image.
In conclusion, the more proactive the approach to managing the client I.T. needs, and using the most advanced, tried, tested and true solutions available, the less likely an ‘after hours call” will every have to occur. This is not only in the MSP’s best interest but more importantly it is in the clients’ best interest as well. Let’s all work for our clients to prevent the fires before they start!