7 reasons reactive IT support is dead

reactive it support is dead

Here’s an important question for you: Do you only eat your lunch after having died from starvation?

You will have likely answered “no” to that question, so here’s another one for you. Do you only fix your IT issues after they cause damage to your business?

You probably said “no” again. But unless you’re using proactive IT support, you should be saying “yes” instead because this is exactly what you’re doing. Waiting until the worst has happened before addressing a problem.

What is reactive IT support?

Reactive support (sometimes called break/fix support) is where the focus is on fixing IT issues after they occur, instead of preventing them from occurring in the first place.

For a long time, reactive support was the only type of IT support possible. But with modern analytics and systems management tools, better monitoring and even the rise of AI-enhanced predictive models, proactive support is now not only possible but widely available.

Yet despite the proactive model being available, many businesses continue using reactive support – often unaware of the damage it’s causing them.

Their choice of IT provider is most often to blame since the cheapest support rarely offers even a hint of proactivity. Instead, cheap providers favour the legacy break/fix approach as it allows them to get better margins on their clients.

Why is a reactive approach not good enough anymore?

1. Leaves the core of the business vulnerable

IT is vital to every department and process within a business. So, if there’s a problem with IT, there’s a direct business impact. This can range from being a simple inconvenience right through to a complete halt of operations. Accompanied by the typical reputational damage.

With a reactive approach, these problems both large and small can arise far more often. This isn’t necessarily because reactive support is worse at fixing problems, but because reactivity is worse at dealing with them.

With a reactive approach, an issue needs to be actively causing pain before it’s addressed. And this results in far more issues reaching employees.

Compared to the proactive approach’s continual improvement mindset, reactivity is also lacking. For a start, a reactive approach has no way to stop issues before they begin impacting the business. Reactivity also lacks the ability to apply past experience from one client to another. Eliminating most common issues completely.

With so many things going for proactivity, it seems like it should be the default. But it’s an approach that many IT providers only pay lip service to. Only with a focus on continual improvement, along with ensuring all systems are proactively monitored can an IT provider call themselves proactive. But once they do, many problems can be fixed long before their effects become visible. Reducing potential damage and minimising employee downtime.

Discover how our fully managed IT support clients are already benefitting from increasing security, stability and performance with a free online review.

2. Negligent to your clients/customers

By the time a reactive IT support provider begins addressing an issue, your customers or clients will already be feeling the negative effects. Perhaps a crypto-jacking infection on your web server is causing your website to become unresponsive, locking out customers. Or a failed piece of hardware has meant critical client assets are lost. These sorts of issues occur far more often with a reactive approach in place and can have major ramifications for your business.

The largest of these is that outages = lost clients. We live in a time where every business is commoditised. So if you experience frequent issues due to reliance on reactive IT support, your clients can and will switch to your competitors.

Additionally, if you have SLAs with clients, failing to meet them due to a spotty service can have direct financial repercussions. But needing to compensate your clients will not cost you a great deal but will also erode trust, resulting in further problems.

3. Allows issues to grow out of hand

With a reactive approach, issues are only fixed once they’re having an impact on your business. This means that a problem which has no immediately visible impact can go unnoticed until it’s far too late. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of things which can go wrong.

A few hours before going out to meet a prospect, a director’s laptop locks up with a message stating she must pay a ransom to unencrypt her data. Clearly the victim of a ransomware attack, the director is dismayed to find it has encrypted the files she needs for her meeting.

Upon recovering the files from their nightly backup, the company finds that the latest snapshot was actually several weeks old. The nightly backup had been encountering an error and failing each night. Without proactive monitoring in place to spot this issue, weeks of data were lost including the files she needed for her prospect.

On Monday morning, the finance department finds they can’t access their finance software and are all seeing an identical error code. Upon calling their reactive support desk they discover that the error code means that the software’s licence key has expired. It takes a day to renew the licence key and costs a considerable amount to do so. Due to no proactivity in relation to managing licenses, a whole day of productivity is lost and the unexpected cost takes a chunk out of the department’s budget.

A final point here: with a reactive support provider, there’s no guarantee that an issue fixed once is fixed for good or across all systems. Without proactivity, the same issue can arise many times, needing to be fixed from the ground up each time.

A proactive IT provider will instead flag the example issues as non-conformances due to their impact. Then, by putting controls in place, they would ensure that the issue won’t happen again not only for the affected client but for any of their clients. This prevents wasting resources on readdressing issues whilst also ensuring you’re always becoming more resilient to issues.

4. Blind to vulnerabilities

When most businesses think of cyber-attacks, they think of ransomware or DDoS attacks, both of which are very visible. But, most malware is designed to stay hidden on a network for as long as possible. Stealing as much data as it can or working its way up the chain of permissions to execute a catastrophic blow.

With the average compromised system staying undetected for 146 days, having no active monitoring due to reliance on reactive support is a dangerous choice to make. By leaving yourself blind to hidden vulnerabilities due to a lack of active monitoring, the impacts of a breach can also become far worse.

  • Hidden spyware can steal more data, resulting in more affected clients and a larger GDPR fine.
  • Hidden ransomware can move further laterally across the network before striking. Increasing the number of files locked and the ransom cost.
  • Hidden crypto-jacking can wear down hardware and reduce employee productivity for longer.
  • Hidden viruses can establish themselves far deeper within a device. Increasing the time and money required to remove it.

Lacking proactive monitoring and system vulnerability scanning allows these threats and more to stay on your network for far longer. Putting your business at a much greater level of risk than it needs to be. But with proactive monitoring and regular vulnerability scans, you can identify these risks and remediate them far quicker.

5. Normalises failure

When using reactive IT support, issues will often be common, recurring and irritating. The sheer volume of these small problems can easily overwhelm employees, causing them to either just get used to it or leave the company. Neither outcome is ideal.

In the case of employees who leave, a replacement must be found and retrained. But even after this, they will still have a chance of leaving the company for the same reasons.

Considering that the cost to replace a well-trained employee can exceed twice their yearly salary, high turnover can be catastrophic for your cashflow.

As for employees who get used to the issues, they may end up causing you more financial damage than those who leave…

6. Kills efficiency

With a reactive approach, each small issue needs an employee to take time out of their day to deal with it, instead of it being pre-emptively resolved.

Whether through having to call the reactive service desk or from reduced productivity whilst dealing with the issue. Even only a few minutes of disturbance per issue can make the wasted time mount up.

For example, if each small problem takes 5 minutes to identify, diagnose and fix and each employee experiences only one issue per day. A company with 40 employees will lose 16 hours and 40 minutes each workweek.

Extending this over a month, the company will lose 66 hours and 40 minutes. And over a year, 800 hours will be wasted. The same as having an employee lay on the floor all day, for 100 days whilst on full pay.

It’s also worth remembering that without proactive management, the same issues can keep recurring. From this, it should be easy to see how lost time can pile up, causing a significant impact on a business’s operations.

7. Proactivity is possible

This list could have consisted of this point alone because the simple fact that proactivity is possible should be enough of a reason to change to it. However, this wouldn’t have been very informative to you, the reader. Nor would it highlight the potential dangers of continuing to use the reactive model.

When comparing the two models, it’s not even a matter of weighing up the pros and cons. The proactive model is a direct upgrade. For one final analogy, it’s like determining whether to use a Palaeolithic hand axe (see: sharp rock) or a chainsaw to cut down a tree.

It’s also worth noting here that many IT support providers sell themselves as being proactive when in truth they’re not. It may be that their monitoring is proactive or one part of their operations. But this alone does not mean they are proactive.

You should aim to understand how your IT system is managed since this shows you what gains can be made with some quick initial changes.

New call-to-action

Is your business ready to hire a CIO?

IT Strategy - Is your business ready for a CIO?

What is a CIO?

If you don’t know what a CIO is, or want a refresh, check out our existing article on the role of a CIO. Since this article is aimed at businesses who are aware of what a CIO is but want to know if they need one, we won’t be covering it here.

Does my business need a CIO?

A widely held notion is that only large, multi-national corporations need the service of a CIO. This may have been true a decade or so ago, but with IT now central to the whole business it’s no longer the case.

The skills of a CIO are now useful to any size or type of business from a 50 person legal firm to a 300 person manufacturing business.

So then, if every business can have a CIO, how do you know if you need one? Here are some key indicators you can look for which show you’re ready for a CIO:

1. You lack the information to make business decisions

When there are plans to make a change in the business, a lack of data and information can plunge even a good idea into uncertainty. Lacking the knowledge for major IT-related business decisions results in project delays. And when the time does come to choose, it’s a decision made on the promises of a salesperson rather than on proven facts.

These factors often limit the scope and effectiveness of projects. Resulting in a lower value or poor performing outcome.

A CIO helps by de-risking the decision-making process. By using their knowledge of technology and the wider business, they can find a solution that has its base in hard facts and proven performance, rather than going by guesswork and hope.

The CIO also gives an amount of certainty to making IT-related business decisions. This can help drive change and adoption, giving you an edge over your competitors who may be uncertain about how to review and apply new technologies such as AI or initiatives such as process improvement and automation to their business.

2. There is friction between departments

When one system or department’s poor performance and operations restrict the ability of another department to get work done, animosity and frustration can arise. This friction is often made worse by siloed departments. This causes rifts of communication, priorities and strategy to form and makes employees feel like they are fighting against their co-workers to get work done.

By being a mediator who ties together the IT and operations sides of the business, a CIO can help reverse this friction. Producing a unified strategy and operating environment means employees will be working towards a complementary outcome. And since everyone will be working in tandem, the likelihood of bottlenecks forming is also reduced.

Finally, because the CIO is in a neutral position, not aligned to any specific department they can be an impartial judge over which department is in the most need of IT resources and systems.

By relying on the facts and listening to each case, they can determine whose requests and priorities to address first. Rather than having each department claim that they are in the most need.

3. There are regular complaints about IT system performance

When constant IT issues are occurring, employee performance will decrease. For a 40-employee firm, even five minutes of disturbance per employee per day will waste over 16 hours a week.

A CIO will listen to the complaints being made and use their knowledge to identify and address the root of the problem. Be that through their own team, a service provider or a software vendor.

This not only minimises employee’s frustrations but it also improves their efficiency. Making a difference to your bottom line.

A CIO can also help you understand where issues might arise in the future as your business grows. They have the expertise and experience to know when you’ll meet friction and pain from an IT or operational standpoint. Allowing them to smooth out the road before you get there.

4. The business is going through a period of change

When your business is experiencing change (moving premises, going through a merger or acquisition, moving to the cloud, expanding teams, e.t.c.) there can be uncertainty around the potential threats which arise and unseen opportunities which pass by. Large scale change in the business’ use of IT can also create unease from a strategic standpoint.

A CIO has the experience, skills and expertise required to get things done in this situation. And thanks to their knowledge of both IT and business, they’re able to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the threats which may arise during a period of change.

5. You don’t understand the benefits IT can bring / You see IT as a necessary evil

When a business sees IT as a necessary evil, it’s inevitable that they’ll commit the least money, time and effort towards it. But businesses which do this only end up handicapping themselves since IT is not only ‘a cost’. Instead it’s the main area where you can gain a competitive advantage in the modern business arena.

The ‘IT is a cost’ mindset arose in the early 2000s due to a decline in business intelligence and a lack of understanding in what IT is. Investments were being made based on trends and hype, not fact. And when people were burned by their mistakes, it leads them to think of IT as a waste of resources.

The CIO helps bring back the business focus and knowledge that so many businesses have lost. Allowing IT to once again become a performance enabler.

Through wise technology investments, addressing deficiencies and ensuring that the IT strategy aligns with the strategy of the wider business, the CIO can re-kindle faith in IT and drive it back into the heart of the business, where true business gains lie.

6. No one in the C-suite is excited about IT

When there is no interest, there is no innovation.

There needs to be someone on your board who is excited about the potential of IT. Without this momentum, you risk projects being put on the backburner or dropped altogether. Slowing your pace of innovation, or even causing stagnation.

So in a world where you either innovate or go out of business, the CIO’s interest and proven experience in technology are vital.

By staying abreast of the latest trends and opportunities a CIO can ensure you’re always getting a business advantage. And with their understanding of the business applications of IT, new technologies and systems can deliver improved business processes and productivity. Giving you a competitive edge.

How big of an investment is a CIO?

To hire an in-house CIO, you can expect to be paying a salary of ~£150,000 per year. And for a highly qualified candidate, up to £240,000 per year – almost a quarter of a million.

A CIO’s salary is likely to eclipse that of any existing senior IT employees you already have such as an IT Director or Chief Technology Officer. It may also surpass many of your other C-level executive’s salaries as well. This is because the role demands a blending of technical and business knowledge alongside at least a decade of experience in similar roles and so employees can command a premium for their employment.

If you’re unable to part with this much cash or are already concerned about cash flow, you may now be thinking that a CIO is out of reach. Fortunately, there’s a second and increasingly popular route: a CIO service.

Because a CIO service has many clients, you get to benefit from the economies of scale which allows prices to be much lower on average.

Combined with how you only pay for the time you use their consultancy, rather than a yearly salary, a CIO service will typically be far more accessible than an in-house employee; all whilst offering the same benefits.

Get more from your IT with a strategy, on-demand CIO-level Consultant: We help businesses to us IT to gain security, stability and a competitive advantage in a rapidly developing marketplace. Click here to find out more.

Which type of IT support is best for my business?

IT outsourcing - Which type of IT outsourcing is best for your business?

One of the easiest ways for companies to gain other business efficiencies is to outsource part, or all, of their IT to a managed services provider.

There are many options available and in today’s blog, we will discuss what each one will typically include.

While the exact names may vary dependent on the provider, the following models represent the typical services offered.

Remote Managed Services

In this model, all or part of your hardware, software, infrastructure, networking and communications is managed remotely by a third party. The IT service provider will monitor, maintain and support your devices from their location. Some of the most common remote services include 24/7 support, infrastructure management, security management, proactive maintenance and operating system administration. It’s feasible for many businesses to be managed this way on a day to day basis. In a high-end essence, it’s often referred to as “keeping the lights on”.

Find out how you can reduce your IT spend and get a greater, measurable return from your investments.

Infrastructure Hosting

Infrastructure Hosting is also known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), part of the umbrella term of “cloud services”. This model can include a turnkey IT solution on vendor infrastructure or can use your existing infrastructure in a third-party data centre. Typical services provided as part of this model include 24/7 support, infrastructure management, security management, applications hosting, operating system administration and disaster recovery.

Application Managed Services

This model is typically an addition to Remote Managed Services or Infrastructure Hosting, rather than provided as a stand-alone service offering. An IT Service provider will manage specific line-of-business applications through your application layer, from relatively simple applications and systems such as Active Directory through to complex applications such as ERP systems and business intelligence.

Fully Managed Services

With this model, you will outsource all of your business’ IT functions to a provider. However, like all things not all providers are equal. A traditional managed service provider will focus on break/fix support. Only delivering standard elements such as helpdesk, account management, products and resold services. While these services “keep the lights on” they do not really enhance your business.

In order to receive a return on fully managed IT services, you need to find a provider who works in partnership with you. Working proactively as part of your own team to enhance your environment, focusing on vision and strategy to ensure it aligns with and supports the achievement of your overall business goals. It’s basically about measuring and improving operations through the intelligent application of technology, process and systems.

Cloud Services

Cloud services are now a primary way for businesses to gain enterprise-class IT systems without the traditional costs which used to come with running them on hardware sat in an office, i.e. CapEx, high end internal IT support, security, network, energy, update etc. The cloud services available now in the main are reliable, secure and robust. It’s all about choosing the right model to fit the business. It’s often common to have a mix of both in-house and cloud services, a hybrid infrastructure. This is typically where the operational advantage lies. It’s still not usual for a cloud-only solution to be right for all but the smallest and simplest businesses.

Obviously, these are just examples of options. True value is returned to a business through detailed analysis and review, to truly understand which options best suit the business where it is now and where it will be in the future.

Do you want to reduce IT spend and get a greater return from your budget? We can show you how. Click here to find out more

When should you consider an outsourced IT help desk for your business?

when should you consider an it help desk

As a growing business, you may already have an IT help desk in-house. While this is beneficial, as internal employees know system configurations and common issues to look out, is there a time when an organisation should consider an outsourced IT help desk?

Now, outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of your internal team and replacing them with a remote third party – although some business may choose that option. More often than not outsourcing is about providing additional and enhanced IT support.

Book a free online review with a consultant and discover how our fully managed IT support can help your business to grow.

In need of extra support?

If your help desk staff are completely overwhelmed by call volume, then outsourcing is definitely a good option to consider. If this sounds like your business, then you may be able to organise it in such a way that the outsourced IT provider functions as a secondary help desk.

In this scenario, the outsourced IT help desk would only handle first-tier support issues, such as forgotten passwords, or they would pick up the excess call volume. This is beneficial because it allows the organisation to retain their in-house expertise, whilst their employees benefit from a more manageable workload and potentially enhanced career progression.

Full outsourcing?

An outsourced IT help desk is also something to consider if your business has outsourced all other IT operations. In this situation, a business is no longer managing their own IT operations and moving the help desk to an outsourced provider can help you to break free from the last parts of in-house IT.

Of course, there’s no right way when it comes to structuring your IT, it depends on your overall business strategy and what you’re looking to achieve. While some growing businesses will do best with a mixture of in-house and third-party IT support, others will choose to outsource the entirety of their IT environment and operations so they can focus on other areas. A good place to start is a consultation with an independent third party who review your business strategy and how your current IT operations align with it.

New call-to-action

4 essential things to do before you outsource your IT project

IT support - 4 basic things to do before using third party IT support

In today’s blog, we will be discussing four things you should do before meeting with providers to who you will potentially outsource your project to.

1. Determine your goals first

Whilst you may think you need to have an extremely detailed project plan before approaching providers, you may end up missing out on expertise. A provider may be able to provide some alternative solution or options to accomplish your goals based on their prior experience.

Growing businesses who are looking to outsource an IT project should instead outline the business goals they would like to achieve through the process. Begin the project with the end in mind – know your desired outcome.

Speak to our team: See how we can help your business to grow with our fully managed IT support 

2. Manage expectations

A new IT project can bring a fair amount of change, so it’s important you communicate openly throughout the business. Your project may result in employees having to change how they perform their role, but the more prepared they are for this the smoother the transition will be. Hold meetings, send email bulletins, schedule training sessions and generally just keep them up to speed.

The more you include the wider business, the better. The best way to overcome resistance is typically inclusion. This can happen through creating a project team within the business, made up of key stakeholders. This should also result in a better outcome in general.

3. Select a certified and experienced IT consulting business

Whilst cost is always a consideration, don’t let it be your sole – or even your main reason – for selecting an IT consultant. What is far more important is the certifications, training and experience a provider has in relation to your IT project.

Additionally, it is a good idea to inquire about the provider’s prior history working on similar projects and perhaps for some references. It makes sense to ask for references, or if you are technical – meet and discuss the detail with the technical team who would deliver the project.

You should be looking for a partnership when choosing an IT provider. You must trust the team and be prepared to work with them with the same level of trust you’d have with your own internal teams.

4. Create a specific contract or agreement

Once you have chosen your IT service provider, you should work with them to determine objectives in terms of the project’s scope and completion. It is possible that you may uncover additional things which need to be done in the midst of your project and while this isn’t necessarily an issue you should have a plan in writing in how to deal with these.

Even where your provider has done thorough research into your IT infrastructure and configuration before the project commences, some things are not encountered until after work begins. By understanding that things may occur and could result in additional time or expense, and being prepared for this, frustration is minimised for all parties.

Conclusion

IT projects don’t need to cause pain. Although it may take some time to get the necessary framework in place and to find the right provider, due diligence will pay off. With structure and governance, you will achieve a positive outcome and working relationship.

New call-to-action

The risks and rewards of outsourced IT support

IT outsourcing - What are the risks and rewards for your business?

As a business or IT leader within a growing business, you have probably considered outsourcing parts of or potentially your wider IT operations to a third-party provider at some point.

Of course, the financial benefits of outsourcing are widely discussed, but there are more reasons to outsource IT – some just as, if not more, important than the flat costs.

In this blog we’ll be discussing some of the reasons businesses consider IT outsourcing, the potential risks typically associated with that and the rewards you stand to gain.

Free online review: Discover how our fully managed IT support can help your business to grow

Why do businesses consider IT outsourcing?

1. Reduce and control costs

When you outsource you reduce the cost – and time – associated with managing internal employees. For example recruitment costs, interviewing, training, planning, holidays, retention, illness etc.

2. Improve company focus

It’s neither practical nor desirable, for a company to cover every single area. Therefore it makes sense to consider outsourcing certain areas to third parties who have the experience and expertise.

3. Gain access to expertise

You stand to gain a greater return on your investment by outsourcing your IT to a company that specialises in that area. You benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of a whole team of experts. Plus, providers often require their employees to have specific certifications and qualifications.

4. Free up internal resources

Have the day to day IT operation looked after by experts who have the tools, people, skills and technology to manage it better than you. Then use your internal resources to focus on business improvement initiatives, often in partnership with the IT provider.

5. Gain additional resources

If you do have not someone in-house to manage all or a specific part of your IT nor the budget to attract and retain someone capable, then outsourcing presents a viable solution – in both the short and long term.

6. Reduce risk

Keeping with technology changes, the latest security risks and best practice is expensive and time-consuming. Keeping up with industry change is part of being an IT support provider and by outsourcing, you can access this knowledge. It’s highly valuable and can prevent you from making wrong or poor decisions for the business.

What are the risks of IT outsourcing?

Handing over control of any part of your business to a third party will always present some level of risk. With IT outsourcing this could include:

1. Deciding what to outsource?

Your whole organisation will rely on IT in some way so it is essential to ensure your provider is qualified to run your operations. However, don’t forget that you don’t necessarily have to outsource your whole IT environment. For example, if you have bespoke software you may decide it is best to keep this in-house and outsource other tasks. For example, project management, day-to-day support and IT strategy to a third party. It all depends on what is best for the business and where you get the best value and return.

2. The level of control

Critics of IT outsourcing argue that outsourced support will never be as effective as an internal employee directly under the control of senior management. This just isn’t true in the main – unless you are a large business. It really depends on the partner you’ve chosen to work with. If you’ve taken the time to select a partner who understands your business, is aligned to your goals then it is more likely you will find you have a long-lasting and business-enhancing relationship – rather than a lack of control. It’s simply not possible for a large percentage of small and mid-sized businesses to attract and retain the best IT minds – the challenge on a day-to-day level is just not there.

3. Employee morale

The mere mention of outsourcing can leave some employees feeling like their job is at risk. To negate this risk ensure you communicate openly across your entire organisation. An IT support provider is there to support your business, often working in tandem with an internal IT team for those businesses who already have them in place. It will typically give internal IT teams room to grow, develop and deliver wider benefits to the business.

You can avoid many of these risks if you take the time to find a support provider and ask them the right questions before you begin your outsourcing contract.

What are the rewards of IT outsourcing?

1. High quality and experienced staff

Since IT is their core focus, IT support providers will ensure they hire staff with the right qualifications, specialisms and experience. There will be a breadth of expertise and knowledge, which enables providers to assign the best person to the project.

2. Access to the latest technology

Technology changes so rapidly it can be difficult for a single person to keep up with. Let alone working out what is just a trend and what is worth your investment for the long term. An IT support provider will be able to keep you updated and advise on these areas.

3. Cost savings

Of course, there are the financial benefits to consider such as leaner overheads, smaller project delivery windows, bulk purchasing and financing options for hardware and software.

4. Flexibility

Providers will have a greater number of resources available to them due to the size of their team and the breadth of knowledge and experience. In contrast, an internal team may have limited resources and capabilities.

5. Improve staff morale

Using an IT outsourcing company often removes the burden from your internal staff. Bringing in a third party can help as it allows the team to focus on particular areas. For example, the provider might take over day-to-day support while the internal team focuses on projects or vice versa.

What are the next steps?

There is a lot to think about when it comes to IT outsourcing. However, if you think it’s the right step then there are a few things to get in order:

  • A clear understanding of your business’s goals and objectives and the ability to communicate these clearly to potential providers
  • A strategic plan or vision for your potential relationship
  • A list of questions to ask potential vendors (we have one available here)
  • Keep open communication with all affected individuals/groups
  • Gain support and involvement of all the senior decision-makers
  • Know how you will get in and/or get out of any contractual commitments

New call-to-action

4 common problems for IT Managers and how co-sourcing can help

How can co-sourced IT support help IT Managers

What are the most common problems for IT Managers?

Problem One: Keeping up with everything

Hardware, software, telephony, IT security, servers, emails… all this requires monitoring and maintenance, and keeping everything on track can be challenging. Not to mention trying to keep up with technological advancements, new security threats and the latest strategic developments. One practical solution would be to involve a co-sourcing partner to manage the appropriate tasks and reduce the workload burden. For example, your co-sourcing partner could manage IT security, your server platform and web management (e.g. DNS hosting, web design and hosting) whilst you take care of end users, communications and connectivity.

Is co-sourced IT support right for your business? Book a free online review to discuss your requirements

Problem Two: Skill gaps

Even an IT manager who oversees multiple team members, will have some skill gaps. This means that external support can often be required to fill these gaps, especially in specialist or niche areas. It may not be necessary to hire full-time team members with these skills, so a co-sourcing partner can provide you with the right technical assistance when required.

Problem Three: Not enough time

Many IT managers may have to deal with the issue of stretching limited resources. One area this can arise is the Service Desk. IT Managers often find themselves juggling internal service requests, ongoing maintenance and monitoring, projects and business priorities. If you don’t have the resources to cover all these points then partnering with a co-sourcing provider who can offer a proven Service Desk could be a good option to consider.

Problem Four: Hitting KPIs

Like many other departments, the IT department has its own KPIs and targets to hit but this can sometimes feel difficult if your resources are already stretched. Co-sourcing provides an efficient, cost-effective and flexible way to optimise results, without drastically increasing overheads or losing control. It can free up time so IT Managers can concentrate on the areas best managed by an internal team, confident in the knowledge that an experienced partner has responsibility for the rest of the tasks.

Co-sourcing can be a great option for those businesses who want to develop an internal IT team, but also require additional support for particular areas. It does not replace an internal team, instead, it helps supplement skill gaps on an as-needed basis.

The flexibility of this approach means IT managers can decide what to keep in-house and what to outsource. The most important thing is that you find the right partner for your business. A good co-sourcing partner will always work in partnership with you and ensure seamless integration with your existing team.

Discover co-sourced IT support. We help IT professional to extend their team's capabilities by providing additional support, experience and expertise. Click here to book an online review

Co-sourced IT Support Guide: The top 5 benefits

5 benefits of cosourcing IT support

Outsourced IT support and internal IT teams both have their pros and cons, but there is a third option available to businesses and that is co-sourced IT support. Co-sourcing is a flexible approach which allows you to supplement your internal IT department with external resources, which can alleviate the team’s workload and simultaneously provide you with additional resources, experience and skills.

What is co-sourced IT support and how does it work?

The activities you will co-source will largely depend on your business. Some common co-sourcing scenarios include:

  • Providing helpdesk support
  • Extending your support hours to provide 24×7 coverage
  • Managing your infrastructure, servers and administration
  • Delivering security and virus protection
  • Providing disaster recovery and remote backup services
  • Migration support (e.g. migrating to Office 365)
  • Delivering strategic consultancy and business process transformation

What are the benefits of co-sourced IT support?

1. Lower Costs

Keeping expenditure in check is an important consideration for a business owner. However, IT – particularly around security – is not an area where you want to compromise on quality. Co-sourcing can be a good way of achieving a balance because it typically has lower overheads. Yet you can still gain access to the specific skills and experience required for a particular project.

As you can rely on outsourced IT support staff to perform certain functions you may be able to limit the number of people you require full time in-house. As business owners will know, finding and retaining skilled IT engineers is expensive and time-consuming. While outsourcing may not be right, having an external team helps with workload distribution, preventing build ups and delays.

Discover IT support designed for IT professionals to help them supplement their team with the skills and expertise they require

2. Flexibility

Another benefit of co-sourced IT support is its flexibility. Depending on your set up, your internal team may deal with daily issues but have no time for projects. Or who simply don’t have the right skill set for performing specific functions, such as security or infrastructure management. In these situations when projects do arise it can cause tension and stress as the internal team simply can’t manage it all.

For example, if your business decides to migrate to a new system (such as Office 365) it can be helpful to not only have additional help at hand but to be able to rely on people who have experience with this particular type of migration.

This flexibility is ideal for businesses who don’t require a large team on a day to day basis but do require additional assistance in specific areas. Co-sourced provides you with reliable, high quality and experience support where and when required.

3. Scalability

If your business is growing rapidly, or you operate in an industry which experiences flux, then there may be occasions where you rapidly require extra support but it’s not practical to simply start trying to hire additional IT engineers.

Co-sourcing allows you to increase your IT support in-line with your business needs, without the hassle of additional recruitment – which may not be practical from a financial or time-scale point of view.

4. Improved Security

A co-sourced IT provider will have the resources to keep up with the latest security developments and are well placed to assist with or take responsibility for IT security. Even minor vulnerabilities, such as neglecting to apply the latest patch, can leave your systems open to threats such as malware and ransomware, so IT security is not an area that you want to neglect.

5. Frees up your internal team

Many internal IT teams can often find their time eaten up by support issues. Leaving them unable to dedicate time to projects, system improvements and changes which deliver value to your business.

Depending on the structure of your internal team and the skill base you have, one option would be to use your co-sourced partner to manage and fulfil internal service requests, freeing up your team to focus on valuable projects.

Alternatively, your co-sourced partner could take responsibility for larger projects while your team focuses on internal operations.

Discover co-sourced IT support. We help IT professional to extend their team's capabilities by providing additional support, experience and expertise. Click here to book an online review

How to work effectively with your IT support provider

IT support - How to work with an external IT team

One of the most common misconceptions which can put people off outsourced IT support is the belief that only an internal IT team can provide reliable, efficient support and ensure that any issues are resolved quickly.

This simply isn’t the case.

The advent of modern technologies allow the vast majority of IT issues to be fixed remotely and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) hold external IT teams accountable for performance, response and fix time. Even those companies who have their own internal IT team can benefit from the support of an external IT team to take responsibility for day-to-day maintenance, provide additional help in the event of a crisis or add specialist skills to the team’s repertoire.

However, sadly this does not mean that every outsourcing relationship runs perfectly 100% of the time. Like any business relationship, for outsourcing to be successful there needs to be certain elements in place to ensure that both parties fully reap the rewards and benefits.

1. Trust

It can be daunting to place a business-critical function such as IT in the hands of a third party, but trust is essential for a smooth working relationship. Of course, you should take the time to find the right IT support partner, but once you feel confident you must trust that your partner will deliver.

The emphasis here really is on finding a “partner” and building a “partnership”. If you have an IT support provider who understands your business, your goals and is dedicated to ensuring that IT supports the achievement of those goals, you will have an infinitely better working relationship than with a provider who’s just focused on the cycle of break-fix.

Discuss exactly what the service will include, who is responsible for what and whether there is any flexibility for customisation. It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page. If one side thinks understand differently you will never achieve alignment, nor achieve the results you want.

2. Communication

Communication is vital for a successful partnership. While you should expect regular updates from your provider and a consistent point of contact, you should be open in your communication. If you have a concern then you should feel comfortable raising it with your provider. They should also be able to respond and alleviate that concern – or provide an action plan for addressing it. Constructive feedback keeps the relationship running smoothly. For example, your external IT team may have facilities that allow feedback upon the completion of a service ticket. This feedback is invaluable because it allows both parties to learn from the experience.

3. Metrics

Agree on what success looks like from the outset, as this will be the benchmark for measuring performance. Use metrics to track the external IT team’s performance and their customer service. You want your employees to be happy with the service they are receiving.

Considerations

It’s important to understand that outsourcing your IT support is not a once and done thing. Successful outsourcing requires both parties to work in partnership with a clear understanding of each other’s responsibilities.

Of course, it may be necessary to adjust the Service Level Agreement in the future. But, the best part about a true partnership with your provider is you can have a two-way discussion and achieve mutual benefit.

By taking the time to find the right IT support provider, aligning their service delivery and your goals, and ensuring open, straightforward communication at all levels you will develop a lasting business relationship which truly elevates your organisation.

A cost-neutral audit can reveal if your IT provider is delivering optimal value. Increase my IT's value

Why are growing businesses embracing managed IT support?

why growing businesses choose managed it support

You would be hard-pressed to find a company these days that doesn’t rely on some form of IT infrastructure.

Even a business of one would require, at a minimum, access to a smartphone, which can connect to a web browser, social media, email, contacts and relevant enough. Even then this is not enough.

Big businesses know that in order to stay relevant, competitive and successful they need to invest in their IT environment and its management. They will have entire teams dedicated to the smooth and efficient running of the overall IT infrastructure and continued maintenance and development.

As a growing business, how do you compete with this level of management and investment? As a business owner, you may understand the critical role IT plays in the running and the growth of your organisation, but you may not have the resources or the time to dedicate to hiring a complete internal IT team.

Even for growing businesses with a dedicated IT person, it can be difficult to cover all of the bases. What happens to IT when that person goes on annual leave or is off sick? How do you prioritise everyday maintenance and IT development projects? What happens to the day-to-day tasks when a crisis hits?

This is where managed IT services come in. It basically involves outsourcing your IT requirements to a third party, who take responsibility for IT maintenance and support. This approach usually offers more competitive costs, but there are several other key reasons why growing businesses are choosing managed IT services.

The benefits of managed IT support

Ease of maintenance

Many growing businesses may only have one “IT person” who is responsible for all company requests and continual maintenance. Any IT crisis monopolises the attention of the IT person, leading to them potentially ignore other IT operations. This could cause significant problems for a growing business.

Security

Data breaches, malware, and phishing attacks have all been on the rise in the last year, and the cost to growing businesses can be enormous. It is claimed that 52% of British businesses fell victim to a cyber-attack in 2016 and, as a result, lost £29.1bn.

Not only do cyber-attacks cause financial damage, but companies will also experience damage to their reputation – which can be fatal. A reputable managed services provider can take responsibility for establishing and maintaining security procedures and programs, ensuring all systems are patched and up to date, and that you have the necessary security measures in place e.g. anti-virus protection, firewalls, content filtering etc.

Innovation

Technology changes at an incredible pace and it can be difficult to keep up with when you have many other demands on your time. Ignoring technology innovations could leave your business falling behind competitors, but how you can identify the latest fad from the technology you need without dedicating major time and effort to research.

A forward-thinking managed IT services provider will take care of all this for you. By getting to know you and your business they will be able to identify technology you truly can’t be without and present a clear business case as to invest.

Reliability

With managed IT services there is a proactive approach to IT management. Hardware and systems are monitored and tested regularly to resolve any potential issues before they cause damage. Your IT support contract will include Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These set out guaranteed response times based on the priority level of the issue, and penalties for not meeting them.

Predictable IT costs

For many growing businesses the bottom line is everything. While many may assume that outsourcing is more expensive than keeping IT in-house, this is not always the case.

Many providers offer support contracts on a flat monthly fee, so you have a predictable cost that fits your budget. Of course, it’s important to check exactly what your IT support contract includes. Sometimes there can be sneaky additional costs, but on the whole, it’s likely you’ll reduce spending.

Conclusion

If you require, at least, computers, internet access and secure data storage then you should consider managed IT services. Meet with a few different managed service providers, explain your requirements and see what they can offer. No IT management is not an option. But bad IT management could make things even worse, so take your time with this decision.