Making the Case for Managed IT Support
How would you like to increase IT efficiency, improve the level of your IT support, seriously reduce cyber crime risk, ease all employees’ stress, and to top it all, reduce expenses? In the next few pages, we will explain how and why engaging a professional managed IT service company here in Atlanta can accomplish all this. We know that you count on technology in virtually every part of your business…and we don’t care what your business is…technology runs it, supports it, builds it, sells it and/or improves it. In another recent white paper, we showed how even today’s blacksmith and wagon wheel businesses rely on technology to advertise and generate business, as well as for buying their equipment and supplies.
Many of today’s small to mid-sized companies take great comfort in knowing that they have their own in-house IT professionals. A company of 60 or 70 people may have two, three or four people on staff, depending on just how dependent their operations are on IT, as well as how modernized their infrastructure is. Over the past few years, here at DynaSis, we have encountered a number of businesses just like this. We continually find similar problems, and, since a problem should always be presented with a solution, we have done just that:
Problem: Your in-house IT is available mainly during business hours, say 8 to 5.
Solution: A top-flight professional managed IT support partner will have people on duty 24 x 7 x 365. This means real people constantly and continually monitoring, managing, and maintaining their clients’ infrastructures. The overnight team, sometimes called a Network Operations Center or NOC, applies patches and updates in real-time, installs software when devices are free so daytime workloads are not impacted, and looks for and fixes small issues so they don’t become large problems. When you choose your support partner, you do not want a company that cannot provide service like this. You want a company with sufficient resources to avoid problems and provide you with 99.999% uptime.
Problem: In an IT crisis, the staff that is sufficient during normal operations is overloaded.
Solution: First of all, because of the way we monitor, manage and maintain IT infrastructures, major problems are a rarity, as should be the case with whichever IT support company you choose. That said, if and when such problems do arise, companies like ours have large teams of IT professionals that can handle virtually any situation that presents itself.
Problem: When someone is sick or on vacation, IT support suffers.
Solution: Yes, the employees of managed service providers get sick and take vacations, too, but with a large team of 50 or 60 IT professionals, the temporary loss of one, two or three people is easily handled.
Problem: This is an important consideration: your staff’s knowledge base is limited, simply because of the limited number of people on your team. Additionally, small to mid-sized employers typically do not send their IT people out for ongoing training, so your team’s experience is limited to what they knew when they joined your company. And if your people do attend off-site training sessions, you not only have the expense, but they are not available to handle on-site issues.
Solution: Ongoing training should be a priority for any managed IT support company. Because of the depth of the support team, regular training can be scheduled without degrading the level of support provided to end-users (your employees). And while no one person has such a broad range of knowledge and experience that they can handle any and all problems that arise, the right partner with the right team will have a collective knowledge-base that no small company in-house team, or small IT support company, can match.
Problem: Turnover is a problem, and you have to pay for recruiting and in-house training.
Solution: The unemployment rate among IT professionals in Atlanta is close to zero. Simply put, if you have good IT people on your team, someone is looking to steal them. We keep our people for several reasons: good pay, good working conditions, respectful treatment, well-stocked break room, etc. You can offer your team these incentives, as well, but what you cannot offer, and what many great IT people value, is an environment where they are always learning, always improving their skills, and where there is always room to move up the ladder. In a small in-house IT team, small salary increases may be available, but are there openings to upwardly mobile positions that are being created because the team is constantly growing? Unlikely. The right IT support company will provide this to its team members, which A) encourages them to stay, and B) increases their own personal knowledge bases, making them more valuable to you and to us.
Problem: In-house IT team leaders typically are not keeping up-to-date on new trends in technology, including intrusion protection, so you may not be getting the most for the dollars you are spending.
Solution: Your managed IT support partner, in Atlanta or elsewhere, will be providing you with a Technical Account Manager (TAM) whose job it is to bridge the gap between the IT world and the business world. A good TAM will meet with clients on a regular basis, monthly at the beginning of an engagement, then quarterly, to review your infrastructure’s current status and make both long and short term suggestions for upgrades that will help keep your data safe and provide maximum efficiency along with effective costing. But it goes much farther than that. Your TAM will have the support of his/her company’s own executive team of highly experienced IT pros who can deal with virtually any problem, quickly reach out to high level support teams within their vendor companies, and provide advice and counsel that can keep you running ahead of the competition. This includes direction in Digital Disruption techniques that can ensure that your company is the “disruptor” and not the prey. (Read our white paper on Digital Disruption.)
Consider this: the President of DynaSis belongs to an executive round table of the Presidents and CEOs of 12 similar managed IT service providers from across the country. They meet three times a year for several days each time, sharing knowledge and addressing problems, all for the benefit of their collective clients. Here is an example: together, these senior IT pros and their teams developed a program they call a Crypto Containment System (CCS) that is triggered if and when a ransomware or other virus enters a company’s infrastructure. Before that virus can spread, infected files are locked and dropped from the network, protecting the rest of the data. These few files can then be quickly deleted and re-uploaded from backups, allowing for minimal, if any, disruption to the client or the client’s customers. No small or mid-sized company in-house IT team can match this massive brain-power.
Problem: The head of your IT department may be performing tasks way below his/her capability level. You wouldn’t ask your CFO to take cash at the cash register, or the head of your R&D team to screw rivets into widgets, so why would you expect an IT exec to change passwords? You are effectively losing money by overpaying your top IT person to perform menial tasks. That said, we all should be willing to jump in whenever necessary, no matter how menial a necessary task may seem, but this should not be a regular executive duty.
Solution: Managed IT support. Let’s understand this: in many companies, it is not only acceptable, but advisable to keep your own in-house top IT guy. The thing is, he shouldn’t be fixing devices, attaching printers, tracking down lost passwords, or even monitoring your infrastructure. He (or she) should be heavily involved in long-range IT planning that can power your business forward, keeping R&D, manufacturing, supply chain, sales and marketing, customer service, finance, and whatever other departments your business maintains, functioning at peak performance.
Problem: Since you, the CEO, President or owner (or all three!) are not an IT expert, you are likely unaware of whether or not you are getting the most out of your IT department. We hear from many C-Suite execs of small to mid-sized companies that they feel they are at the mercy of their IT people. While they don’t suspect foul play or intentional misinformation, since the exec doesn’t know and understand technology the way he or she knows and understands the products he/she are producing and selling, they have to take the IT leader at his/her word.
Solution: Don’t take what you are about to read as a personal attack on your IT team leader, be it CIO, CTO or Director. Today’s IT is a rapidly moving target. While they may subscribe to tech journals and websites, keeping on top of these is a daunting task. And while your IT head may have access to major vendors’ sales and support personnel (who are mainly tasked with selling their employer’s latest and greatest), we have access to a much higher level of vendor executive in a much broader range of companies. We have a whole team of senior IT executives who are tasked with keeping up-to-date with different areas of technology and keeping abreast of new products and services and truly digging deep to determine which make sense and which are fluff. We also know when the initial bugs are worked out so that they are safe. We have weekly executive team meetings at which we discuss the latest offerings and when and how we should test those that we believe may help our clients either in terms of risk reduction, efficiency increase, or cost savings.
Problem: In addition to recruiting and in-house training expenses discussed above, you are responsible for salary, bonuses, vacation pay, sick pay, retirement pay, payroll taxes, and (if you provide it) ongoing outside training.
Solution: Here is a quick hypothetical comparison using these two assumptions:
A: You have an IT Team leader (regardless of the title.)
B: You want to keep this person in place.
Let’s say you have on staff both a “Level I” and a “Level II” network support technician.
According to Salary.com, in the metro Atlanta area, for the Level I employee you should be paying an average of $52,478 in salary, then add about 20% for payroll taxes, 401k matching, other benefits, etc. This doesn’t include bonuses, vacation time off, etc. Call it $62,000. (If you are paying less than this, you are either lucky, or not getting the best people.)
The Level II technician will receive a salary of $65,876, so let’s call it $75,000 fully loaded.
Together, without the IT team leader, that comes to $137,000. Managed IT Support for a 60-person company will generally cost about $150 per month per employee, or $9,000 per month, or $108,000 per year. Of course, while a savings of tens of thousands of dollars a year is a great inventive in and of itself, you will also be getting all the other benefits stated in this paper.
Problem: Aging equipment is nursed and often not replaced until a crisis emerges. These systems are often not replaced because of cost. This includes using hardware and software that is no longer supported by the manufacturer. Why is this important? There are a number of reasons including efficiency, but the one we consider to be most important is that when software is supported, manufacturers consistently release updates and patches as vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber-criminals are discovered. This ends when support ends. You may think that after a number of years of support, all possible weaknesses have been taken care of, but that is just not true. Very smart, very capable cyber-criminals are constantly working to find new ways into software programs, ESPECIALLY when they know the programs are no longer supported because they know that the companies that continue to use these products are easy targets.
Solution: First of all, moving your data to the cloud can solve a lot of this right away, and be cost effective. (You can learn a lot more about Cloud solutions here, or by reading one of our recent white papers.) We know it can be intimidating to move years of customer data (and your own) away from what seems like the protection of your own premises, but it is really much safer. On another level, your IT provider can often provide you with long and short range solutions that eliminate capital expenditure AND place on their shoulders the financial burden of keeping your equipment in top working order. If you are currently paying outside parties to repair laptops and desktops, the more your equipment fails, the more money these providers make. On the other hand, a managed service provider makes MORE money when your equipment is working perfectly. It’s a win for them, for your employees, and for you.
Managed IT services as an industry is expected to grow by approximately 67% over the next five years, making it one of the fastest growing industries in any sector. There is a simple reason for this: it works. The complexities of today’s technology are truly daunting, as are the challenges of cyber security. As well meaning as they may be, it is simply impossible for a small in-house team to provide the same level of support and security as a top-quality managed it support company. At DynaSis, we have been providing this service for more than 25 years, growing by providing the best IT service to the best clients in the business. If you would like to learn more, give us a call today at 678-373-0716 or visit www.DynaSis.com.