Reflecting on a Decade of IT MSP Service
We’ve been doing this IT gig for a long time. Some of you who are reading this may have been with us from the beginning. Things have changed a lot in the IT world since 1990, and we have had the pleasure of adapting and growing with our clients on that journey.
Those of you who have been clients for a long time know that we made a change over 10 years ago and invested in the tools and process development to create a strong IT managed services model. This was a reaction to the changing IT landscape, and the need to do more for our clients than just react and respond to problems when they occur.
There are four basic ways that organizations choose to get IT help these days:
1. Break/Fix – The designated IT contact keeps a list of issues, and when it gets urgent enough or big enough, then they give the outsourced IT company a call. If something is an emergency, they usually send a tech out pretty quickly. Sometimes this works because there is someone on staff who is pretty tech savvy and handles the day to day. The IT company only gets a call when it is too tough for them. The downfall here is that most everything is reactive. Security, data integrity of backups, patching, and other areas are usually lacking and leave the company at risk, and often they end up having far more day-to-day issues than necessary.
2. On-Staff IT – Many companies choose to hire on-staff IT rather than outsource. If a company has 250 users or more, this often makes sense, but if you are under that, it rarely does. For some organizations, on-staff IT provides the comfort of knowing that IT services is under their direct management, and their people are always onsite. The common issue here is that if you only have 1-3 IT people, it is hard to develop a team with the right management tools, software and skillset. To do IT right you need people good at help-desk, hardware/software procurement, strategic planning, engineering, server deployment, innovation, management, and more.
3. Partial-Managed Services – Some companies outsource to an IT company that charges a fee for some proactive maintenance services or some regular onsite time, and then charges extra for additional services. This often seems like a lower cost way of doing things, but ends up costing more, and often ignores some of the critical elements of well-managed IT. With this model, there is still a disincentive to get help when needed because it will cost more. There is still an approval process to do certain types of work that will generate a charge and often this work gets delayed while that process completes. The service provider is still incentivized by finding more chargeable work, and sometimes the company employing them is still questioning whether the suggested work is in the provider’s best interest or theirs. This can be a risky model because one may think they are getting a truly proactive solution, when in fact they are not.
4. Full Managed Services – Full IT MSP Services is the right solution for most organizations. This type of service provides unlimited reactive services and a strict schedule of proactive services that are designed to drive down the day-to-day problems, reduce risk, and create a high performing network with very few issues. The great thing about Fully Managed IT is that it puts the provider on the same side of the fence as the company employing them. As an MSP, we want to reduce the reactive issues, because they cost us time and money. As the company employing us, you want to minimize your downtime to make your people as productive (and happy) as possible. We are working for a common goal, and you are not worried about the extra fees to solve the issue, because there aren’t any.
After over 10-years of doing fully managed IT services, there is so much to reflect on. And, our services have grown and improved greatly over the years. Here are just a few really cool things we have seen happen in the last 10 years:
1. Stability. We really can quiet your network to a well-performing hum. This has been our goal for years, and we have seen it happen time and again. In fact, in the last few months, we have had several sizeable clients confirm to us that we have done exactly what we told them and quieted things down with their IT systems and platforms so that things are running extremely well.
2. Responsiveness. Most every prospective client we meet with has some complaint over responsiveness with their current IT. Some even get voicemail when they call for support. Their provider may not have a mechanism for tracking tasks and problems. They may not have a dedicated team for inside support. They may not have the right metrics in place to track an issue and measure response. Responsiveness can be difficult and is a challenge during spikes and drops in activity. I’m happy to say that we have leveraged new software, new processes and new measurements, so that we are consistently exceeding our service response and resolution goals. Many thanks to our awesome team! This means that our clients consistently get the appropriate help in a time that meets and exceeds their needs.
3. Uptime. Back in the old break/fix days, we remember well having customers completely down and pulling all-night recovery shifts to get them back online by morning. It was just part of the job. Now, we rarely deal with this kind of situation, and when it does happen, the recovery is quick. We know we are working with a tested backup solution, and they are back online quickly.
4. Peace of Mind. Planning is the backbone of good managed services, and it is one of the key factors that creates uptime. We have been able to reduce IT surprises to an almost non-existent level. A big part of this has been working with our clients to create an equipment cycle schedule. We also pay close attention to software obsolescence for both support and security reasons. With the right planning everyone is on the same page, expenditures are known, and disruption is minimized. Once things are running well, the focus shifts to using your IT systems and platforms to drive automation and efficiency rather than always feeling behind.
5. Security. Keeping an organization’s IT platforms secure requires the right combination of discipline and attention to the security landscape. It is a never-ending quest that involves not just IT, but diligence from every member of the organization. We have seen a significant reduction in these types of issues, both, due to user education and implementation of strong best practices. The MSP model allows us to shift our focus to prevention and has a significant effect on security and stability.
After many years of providing Fully Managed IT Services at CTaccess, we are more convinced than ever that it is the right way to do IT. We’ve seen the results it has brought to our customers, and we are eager to continue to grow and change and help more organizations in Wisconsin and Illinois. To our clients, thank you! And, to those of you who are not yet clients, lets talk!
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, an Elm Grove IT support company that has been helping small businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.