IT Support – A Complete Solution Part 2
This second post is part of a series that will address different facets of IT Support and the components that when put together will make up a complete solution. If you missed our first post in the series, check it out here. This week we’ll be talking about a couple of important items that are completely neglected by many managed service providers. That would be IT Reporting, and IT Strategy.
So why don’t a lot of managed services companies offer good reporting for their clients? The short answer is that in many cases they don’t have the tools in place to do so. Why not? They cost money. Advanced tool set that offers useful reporting can also take time to implement and require some maintenance and work on the part of the provider. If the provider is invested in providing the best experience for their clients, they will take the time to put it in place.
So what IT reporting should you care about, and how can it benefit your business? There are a lot of different types of IT reporting that can be beneficial. One of the first most folks ask for is a simple inventory. Many organizations have IT assets that are spread out across multiple locations. They have laptops that get taken home, they have physical and virtual servers, they have firewalls and network equipment.
One of the very first steps to be able to effectively manage IT equipment is to know what you have. Inventory reporting gives you details such as current age, hardware specs, operating system, and warranty. Armed with that kind of information you can start to do some strategic planning. You can set a life cycle and budgets for hardware. This can help eliminate downtime due to hardware malfunction, and offer you a lower total cost of ownership on your equipment. Good reporting allows you to proactively plan replacements instead of getting caught with hardware failure.
A quality IT Support provider will also give you reporting on their response and resolution times. This transparency allows you to see first hand how their doing. It also allows you to have a frank conversation about how you can work better as partners to ensure success. Quality providers will be happy to discuss their results and make plans together to improve the solution if there is a need.
Another important report is something we call a time/trend analysis report. At i.t.NOW every issue is logged in a ticket when a user contacts us. Those tickets are sorted into groups and subgroups based on the substance of the request. These tickets are tracked over time, and it allows us to look back over a period of the last 6 months or a year to see trends. Trends in IT typically mean a recurring issue of some kind. We HATE recurring issues. We don’t want our clients to have the same problem over and over. This report helps us to identify those trends and offer permanent solutions to any issues that seem to be reoccurring.
There are a million other types of useful IT reporting that can be leveraged strategically to help you make better decisions about how you use technology to empower your business. At i.t.NOW we love data, because it helps us to make intelligent recommendations that help our clients streamline processes, eliminate recurring problems, make the most of their IT spend, and move their business forward.
Once you have your network stable and have had the chance to gather some good data its time to strategize. I’ve already touched base on how good reporting can be leveraged to help you make better strategy decisions. So how else does strategy play in?
For us, IT strategy means making a road map for the future. We not only look at the state of the network currently, but identify where we want to get to. Do we have a 6 month plan? A one year plan? A five year plan?
This planning usually takes the form of regular quarterly business planning sessions with our clients. We come prepared with a bunch of reporting to give the current lay of the land, and then discuss company objectives relating to IT. We help plan needed projects to get our clients where they want to go, and try to make them aware of emerging technologies that could benefit their business.
We discuss network security and compliance needs, and plan for how to keep the network safe. IT security can be an in-depth discussion that effects the way we do many things as an IT provider. It can also dictate how data is stored and communicated on a network, and the solutions used.
All of these items put together allow us to provide a more complete solution for IT. Join us again next week as we discuss some additional facets of a complete IT Support solution and how they can benefit your business.