Managed IT Services - How Do You Compare To Industry Peers?
A common question that surfaces when meeting business leaders about using managed IT
services for their business is "what are other firms in our industry doing?". Small business owners have been under pressure to hold IT costs down while keeping efficiency levels up. Without an industry yardstick or economies of scale, makes it difficult to compare how your company stacks up against competitors and peers.
It is widely recognized that managing your company's IT resources is fraught with many issues and challenges. Breathe easy, all businesses experience the same initial heartburn episodes with their IT assets. Firms have come to realize that their current managed IT services, processes, and practices, which are often inconsistent and highly fragmented, are not adequate from a cost control and operating efficiency priority.
So, below is the top 7 tactics your industry peers are getting in return for their managed IT service dollars:
1. 7 Minute Response to critical or non-critical IT issues.
Does your staff get attentive and timely IT support or do they have to wait for IT help? Your peers receive prompt attention to all computer problems before impacting their business. Do you?
2. Team of 3-4 IT professionals assigned to business
Do you have a regular team of IT professionals dedicated to your company? Or, do you see new faces each time your IT group is onsite? Or, do you have just one "go-to-guy" for everything? What if he or she is tied up with another customer or on vacation, or worse, leaves your IT provider. Having a team assigned to your company ensures your expected service levels never drop.
3. Around-the-clock watch on IT operations
What happens if your primary server drops off line Thursday night? Will your IT provider be alerted or aware of the outage? Most importantly, will they have it up and running before business starts in the morning? Bad things sometimes happen at night. You need insurance that your business never goes down or will be restored regardless of what time or day it is.
4. Unlimited Support
Are you still paying hourly support for IT help? If so, do you get surprise invoices each month? It is impossible to control costs and keep your business efficient if your IT support is based upon a clock fee structure. Get unlimited support. With unlimited support for your systems and staff, you no longer have to regulate support time to keep costs down.
5. One Flat Monthly Fee
Convert your monthly IT costs into a simple set fixed expense. Here again, this eliminates you having to managing time and expense for IT help. Be careful of the hidden "gotchas" in flat-fee support plans. Make sure your business gets all the coverage you need without the supplement or hidden billing costs. Some plans offer a baseline support with hourly charges for support features. Get a flat-fee with everything inclusive and be done with it.
6. Cut IT Costs
Do you have an IT Cost Savings plan in place? Did your managed IT services provider help construct a cost control and savings plan for this year? Managing IT costs is a full contact sport. When was the last time your voice/data rate plan was reviewed or reduced? How about leveraging cloud servers versus making a captial asset purchase. All IT variable and fixed costs need to be evaluated constantly.
7. Risk & Business Continuity
Are you aware of the potential business stopping risks associated with your company? Where is your IT vulnerable. For example, is your firewall appliance a single point of failure? If so, what happens if this device drops offline. How fast can you be back up? Worse, what if your critical application server that generates revenue tips over. Then what? What is the recovery plan? Equally importantly, how much are we losing per hour of not working? Is your managed IT service partner aware of this costs?
So business leaders, how do you measure up against your peers? If nothing else, look at your managed IT services results and see if you are using your dollars and resources efficiently. Is your business interupted by IT related problems? Is your IT support costs the same each month? Is your staff happy with the IT support response time and results? Is your business operating efficiently? Is your time interupted by IT issues? Are you getting a fair return in value for what you spend in IT support?
The goal here is not to see if you are "average". But rather to see if there ways that you can use the above managed IT service arsenal to make improvements to your business model.
How well managed are your IT assets, operations, and budget? Let us know. We would like to hear from you.