IT Support Blog for Small Business Owners

Four Strategic Outcomes to Focus on when IT Outsourcing

Posted by David S. Mulvey on Wed, Jun 04, 2014

IT Business OutcomesAre outsourced IT services right for your business? Possibly; I have listed seven business outcomes that you may try to achieve when outsourcing IT managed services. You have probably heard before that the CEO should be working “on,” the business not “in,” the business. The same is true while outsourcing your IT services, the time that is freed up for your staff and yourself should be directed to important work outcomes. IT outsourcing can provide a strategic, cost-effective solution if your management team is focusing “on,” your business outcomes. The business outcomes can be segregated into three areas of business operation, first are the CEO focused business outcomes, and second are the strategic accounting and operational outcomes and finally specific IT business outcomes. In this blog I will discuss the first four of seven potential business outcomes.


Outsource your IT so the CEO can focus on increased revenue and profitability!

By outsourcing your IT you may dedicate 100% of your payroll and employee resources to your core business rather than to IT functions and support. Through IT outsourcing you can begin to view and use IT as a strategic asset within your company. Outsourcing your IT is an effective strategy for gaining efficiencies and reducing costs. A typical IT outsourcer will automate specific recurring tasks during your IT outsourcing agreement, which will increase IT availability and increase network predictability. Through IT outsourcing, you will develop a short and long term IT budget. If you outsourced your IT how much time can be freed up for you and your management team and employees to focus on the core business?


Outsource your IT to insure you successfully transition to a new technology to enable a faster growth rate.

Many CEO’s from our clients share with us their growth targets will require them to implement a new technology; by outsourcing your IT you can be assured the technology will be deployed successfully. Other CEO’s tell us they are growing quickly and don’t want to add headcount, they need to improve employee productivity through IT automation or a Line-of-Business application deployment; outsourcing your IT will insure the application is deployed correctly -- the first time. We have had clients merge or move operations with another company, outsourcing with tight planning can mitigate the risk out of business consolidation. Through IT outsourcing you can also easily expand into new states or countries; an IT Service Provider can typically support client locations in Europe, Asia and Africa 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Outsource your IT to manage risk and ensure business continuity.

There are so many potential risks to manage within your IT department: Do you have a business continuity plan in place in case of a man made or natural disaster? Do you know how long it would take to resume normal IT operations after a data disaster? Does your business need to conform to the HIPPA or PCI standards? Perhaps your documents and files include both internal and client sensitive documents and data; are you required to have secure data, secure transactions and communications? Or perhaps your business has a small IT department and you want to secure the systems from being compromised if an IT employee leaves or if the department is dismantled. Or you simply want to protect your PCs and servers from the latest viruses and malware threats. Outsourcing your IT to a managed service provider will provide answers to all of these questions and deliver the business outcome you need.


Consider Outsourcing your IT to improve your IT infrastructure’s availability and service responsiveness.

The most common reason our clients outsource their IT is because the owner feels his business has outgrown the current IT provider. The vast majority of IT companies are 1 or two possibly three employees; when one of the three is sick or on vacation, it becomes impossible to adequately support all of their clients. The owner calls us exasperated in how long it is taking to get service. The IT requirements of a growing business steadily increase; another common issue is that the current IT provider does not have the knowledge and skills to help the business grow in their IT maturity and IT complexity. If you have a business where you operate 24 hours a day, or you have both national and international offices, you need an IT provider that operates a Network Operations Center 24 hours a day 365 days a year. No matter what time it is in the world, a larger IT Managed Service Provider will be open for business and ready to answer your employee’s questions. Shop for an IT outsourcer that can provide a written Service-Level-Guarantee on response time, and resolution times; insist the Service Level’s provide a money back guarantee if they are not meet. By placing the new IT outsourcers “skin in the game,” you can be assured you will achieve a higher level of responsiveness and availability and thereby achieve the business outcomes you require.

In our next blog we will look at the other 3 business outcomes you can expect from IT outsourcing. If you are ready to speak with ANP fill out our form here. Or download our free white paper on The seven sign its time to call for computer support (found below.)

 

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Topics: IT Outsourcing, Service Level Guarantee, IT Strategy, IT Business Outcomes, IT Strategic Outcomes

Did You Budget for Increased IT Support Costs This Year?

Posted by Michael Silverman on Mon, Feb 03, 2014

Windows XPLast month, I blogged about Technology Management strategies and how to link good IT management back to a predictable IT budget.  This April brings not only its usual tax day, but, crucial for IT management and business continuity, the end of support for the Microsoft Windows XP operating system.  Unless you’re in the minority, look around, you’ll see Windows XP desktops or laptops.  So what’s the end of support for XP have to do with increased network management costs?  It means you’re going to need to upgrade old computers or risk unplanned downtime due to an exploited unsupported operating system.

Microsoft has stated that “after April 8, Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.  This means that any new vulnerability discovered in Windows XP after its ‘end of life’ will not be addressed by new security updates from Microsoft.”  IT security is a leap frogging game between those desiring to attack a computer or network and those tasked with protecting it.

The graphic below illustrates the typical IT management strategy for protecting a computer or network.  Security systems are designed to prevent attacks, but what happens if an attack is not detected? Computer systems can screech to a halt and valuable data can be lost.

IT Virus Detection, Response, Prevention 

For years I’ve expressed to clients that someone needs to be the first to get a new virus, or be the victim of a software security flaw before patches or updates can be introduced.  About four years ago, one of my clients was one of the first to get hit with a new virus.  It was identified by Symantec two days prior and the virus definition update, the response, had not yet been released.  Fortunately, there were good monitoring controls in place and we were able to limit the damage until Symantec got us the interim software release.  The net effect was limited downtime and minimal loss of productivity.

Now let’s fast forward to April 2014.  You’re a small business, say 40 employees, all with Windows XP desktops.  One of your employees innocently goes to a web site with a corrupt display ad designed to exploit a Windows XP flaw.  It attacks their computer and begins spreading throughout your network.  What might you expect?

  • IT Productivity could drop to a crawl; 40 employees times $100 an hour burden rate will cost the business $4,000 an hour.  Can the technicians eliminate the issue in an hour?  Probably not; could take a couple of hours just to identify the root cause.
  • Do you have a solid business continuity plan addressing these kinds of issues?  If you have a remote worker strategy leveraging Citrix, you might be able to get partially back in business in a few hours; now maybe up to $20,000 in lost productivity.
  • The IT team says, “We’ve got no choice but to upgrade to a supported operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.”  Ugh, now you’re hitting cash flow.  The upgrade could cost $6,000 to $12,000 to purchase, but how much longer to deploy it?  Couple of days to get everyone back on-line? There’s $60,000 in lost labor, but what about lost business?
  • Maybe your computers are too old to run the new operating system.  Now you’re spending $32,000 in new computers, another couple of days lost labor, $60,000 plus labor to deploy the new machines, and more lost business.

Get the picture?  It’s just not worth it.  The pennies saved while everything works can cost you thousands without any advance notice.  Talk to your IT support company, IT consultant, and your peers.  The gamble just isn’t worth the price.

And it’s not just Windows XP.  Every piece of technology linking your network exposes you to some degree of risk as it reaches its end of life.  Do you have an IT strategy or lifecycle management plan in place to mitigate these risks?  Want perspectives?  Check out my recent blog about technology management or just drop me a line.  

 

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Topics: IT Support, Windows XP, IT Productivity, IT Strategy

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