IT Support Blog for Small Business Owners

How do you insure IT Outcomes occur when IT Outsourcing?

Posted by David S. Mulvey on Sat, Jun 21, 2014

IT Outcomes healthy or unhealthy?This month we have been looking at the outcomes that come from IT outsourcing, the last two blogs have talked about the potential business outcomes you might expect if you outsource your IT; but what about the IT outcomes? Outcome based outsourcing is the Holy Grail of IT services; achieve a healthy or unhealthy result.  Our clients would all agree that if we can tie specific business and IT results to our outsourced agreement everyone would be happier in the end.

The trick is that many IT outsourcers focus on the inputs rather than the outputs.   Consider the US healthcare system; today doctors are still incented to perform tests and procedures with few financial rewards tied to the ultimate goal: a healthy patient, I believe the same is true today in many IT companies.   Let me give you an example, today many IT companies want to sell you the business owner a “block of hours,” which is a prepaid amount of man hour labor. How does approaching your company IT with a third party and a bunch of man-hours assure you of any type of IT outcome? The truth is it doesn’t, the business owner is lured into thinking he can control his third party IT expense, but they fail to see that the money is going to fixing things, not delivering a great holistic IT outcome. As a result, that block of hours contract wastes money fixing reactive issues as they come up. The great IT outcomes are never realized because all the money goes to fixing the problem of the day and is never placed where it really matters; under the covers deep inside how your network is configured. 

As a business owner, ideally you can see the difference between reactive IT support and proactive IT support. Reactive support fixes IT things as they break and proactive support is what an IT outsourced agreement focuses in on, proactively doing the IT best practices that keep your network and IT running at peak efficiency. Lets go back to healthcare, we ultimately have two choices in our life regarding our health: be reactive and wait for an issue or become proactive and focus in and do what we are told are the healthy best practices.  You can sit in a lazy boy and drink beer and eat Twinkies and reactively get rushed to the hospital when you inevitably have a heart attack and hope for the best, or you can proactively watch what you eat, exercise and really focus on health lifestyle best practices because you know you will end up with a longer lifespan and a higher quality of life.  Believe me, the same is true with your IT, become reactive and lazy or work at becoming proactive and healthy. Yes it’s harder to be proactive, yes its time consuming to do the necessary work, but the IT results are guaranteed.

So if you can take that leap of faith with me and see that becoming proactive with your IT will insure you of a better result; then let me show you how to insure you get that great IT result with an IT outsourcer.  The IT best practices are well documented: patch your windows servers and workstations, install anti-virus software make certain it is updating and scanning, quarantine all of the files that anti virus software finds, monitor your server logs, daily monitor your back up software, test file restoration etc. The question is not what we should be doing, it is insuring that not only does it happen but also it happens transparently and with a “Service Level Guarantee.” You should look for an IT outsourcer that can produce a monthly report that shows you how effectively all the best practice work is occurring. And more importantly, when it doesn’t occur, you can ask for your money back! 

I think you should be able to go further than that; focus in on the reactive things that often do breakdown and expect a higher level “Service Level Guarantee,” on that type of work.  For instance if your cable modem goes off-line, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, your IT outsourcer should be able to notify you the device went off line within 15 minutes of it occurring, the outsourcer should be able to email you what their resolution plan is (for instance calling up Verizon or Comcast and getting a service incident opened and trying to get a dispatch time) and finally the repair and resolution time should be documented and completed in less than some guaranteed period of time.   Each of these three steps should have a contract time limit, and they should have a money back guarantee if the time performance is not met.  Investigate if your potential IT provider is willing to commit to performance guarantees, beware the small providers who don’t have the staffing to commit to a higher level of deliverables.  This is the way, you as an owner, can insure your IT outsource agreement does in fact tie IT outcomes to your payment of money each month. 

As a business owner, you can get a much higher level of IT performance out of your company infrastructure if you are willing to commit to proactively applying IT best practices, to insure you achieve the IT best practices, consider outsourcing to an experienced IT outsourcer, once you have found an experienced company, take a look at their contract and see if you can find a written service level guarantee that promises a certain level of performance or your money back.  If you shop carefully you can achieve the Holy Grail: you can tie IT outcomes to a performance based IT outsource agreement! If you would like to meet and discuss IT outsourcing click here to set up an appointment. If you are not ready to meet, click here to sign up for a free whitepaper on IT outsourcing: 6 Essential IT Outsourcing Strategies.

 

6 Essential IT Outsourcing Strategies

Topics: IT Outsourcing, Service Level Guarantee, IT Outcomes, IT outsourcer

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.)

 

7 Signs Its Time Computer Support

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

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