IT Support – A Complete Solution Part 1
There are a lot of facets to a complete solution for IT Support. Help desk is what most folks think of, because when they call with an issue that’s who answers the phone. However, not all help desks are created equal, and there are a lot more pieces to the puzzle to create a complete solution for IT.
Help Desk Support
The help desk is the front lines for most IT support providers, and the face of the company. However, it’s important to recognize that not all help desks are structured the same way, and that can make a huge difference in your response time. Some providers don’t have a central ticketing system to track tickets, and work out of an email inbox or something similar to respond to issues. This can lead to issues getting lost or forgotten. Lost issues don’t get resolved, and definitely not in a timely manner. It also doesn’t provide any structure to get additional help when a complicated issue merits it.
At i.t.NOW our help desk uses a central ticketing system to log each and every issue. This ensures that every request is logged and never forgotten. We have staff that will work to triage these request to route them to the correct resource for timely resolution.
In addition there is a built in escalation path for each and every request. We have several layers of technicians with escalating skill sets. Tickets are worked for a set amount of time, and if not resolved within specified time frames escalated to a more appropriate resource. With every escalation that happens more and more management within our organization are notified to ensure that it is handled appropriately. This is an automated process, and thus happens without fail. Knowing that if a ticket goes unresolved for a certain amount of time will result in our CEO being notified works as excellent motivation for our technicians to aggressively pursue resolution.
That kind of structured approach may seem like a small thing, but it works. It allows i.t.NOW to have industry leading Service Level Agreements (service guarantees) and to exceed our goals for meeting them. This translates into no issue left behind, and timely responses for our happy clients. Its good to ask questions, because not all help desk solutions are created equally.
Monitoring and Alerting
A lot of service providers will tout that they provide “monitoring”. Typically this means that they have some kind of software product that will actively watch your servers and give you an alert if they go offline. Sometimes they will also give you additional data and notify you of smart errors on disks, or other potential problems. These solutions are great, but the process behind them is what yields utility. Again, not all solutions are created equal.
There are companies out there that have a “monitoring” solution. Their software will get an alert if your server goes offline. Often this alert is in the form of an email that goes to a certain technicians email box. If he is busy with another task, working onsite with another client, or otherwise engaged, it could be hours or possibly days before he sees this alert. That could mean that your server is down for an extended period.
At i.t.NOW monitoring and alerting is a different story. Our monitors are far more robust. We can see online offline alerts sure, but we can also see ram usage, CPU usage, installed applications, smart errors, hardware errors, and more. We can monitor specific processes on your server and have customized alerts based on application specific needs. We can monitor connections between different locations for access and stability. We see more.
More importantly we do more. Our automated system generates a ticket based on those alerts and sends it over to our Network Operations Center for examination. We check the validity of the alert and the severity. We triage those tickets and get them assigned to the correct resource. We frequently know before our clients when they are having issues. We use this as part of being a true proactive IT partner for our clients. It allows us to fix things before they break.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This process has allowed us to have an 11 min response time to priority one server errors on average in 2018. The right solution for monitoring can make a huge difference in response.
This is part one of a series of blog posts where I will break things out part by part to discuss a complete IT solution. Next week we will discuss IT Strategy and Reporting. As always the professionals at i.t.NOW stand ready to help. Give us a call for any of your IT support needs.