Eight Reasons Why Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Need Managed IT Services

Chicago Managed IT Services

Eight Reasons Why Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Need Managed IT Services

Chicago Managed IT Services

Managed IT services is rapidly becoming one of the hottest solutions in business today because it dramatically improves an organization’s profitability, frees up internal resources, and offers a unique competitive advantage.   Simply put, managed IT services are designed to assist companies in maintaining and supporting their network and IT infrastructure with the assistance of an outsourced managed services provider (MSP).  Types of services may include remote network monitoring, programming and reporting (24/7), firewall monitoring, intrusion detection, preventative tasks, disaster recovery, data backup and help desk support.  There are eight critical reasons why small to midsized businesses (SMBs) need managed IT services now and throughout the life cycle of their business.

Dependence On IT

Almost all businesses have become more dependent on computer technologies in the past few years.  And, it’s a rapidly changing environment.  Every business has become dependent on its IT infrastructure to perform at a high level, while effectively delivering its products or services.  As a result, it has become more difficult to maintain the expertise to properly deploy, manage, and monitor this new technology, especially as a business evolves.

Complexity

The fact that this new technology is new makes it more difficult for the average employee to understand and use effectively.  The level of demand and sophistication from today’s businesses are driving up complexity.  Distinct disciplines or specialties are emerging in a variety of technology related areas such as telephony, desktop, network, application and database support.  The breadth and depth of technology an organization requires immediately places the resources at a small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) at a distinct disadvantage.

Insufficient Solutions

Traditional support options such as a one man IT consultant, or a one or two person in-house IT department cannot effectively handle the occasional network breakdowns that are bound to occur. This is especially true when compared to a team of external resources that  proactively monitor the SMB’s installed technology at all times.

Lack of Process

An IDC study reinforces the notion of lack of process, showing that 78% of all IT downtime is caused by change.  If you could simply eliminate change from the computing environment, you would substantially decrease the risk. Unfortunately, most SMBs lack the procedures, documentation standards, and scope of work, which often results in major disruption and downtime.

Increased Use of Technology

Increasing use of computers, new software and procedures, often leads to increased complaints and loss of productivity. Typically, when network or desktop problems arise and escalate inside a company, the response time of the one man shop or internal staff is quite slow. This dramatically increases employee complaints and lowers productivity.  In many situations employees have to wait in line to receive help.  As a result the downtime and morale will impact the organization’s bottom line as well as their ability to meet their customers’ needs.  By implementing a managed IT services program, the demand on internal IT resources are lessened, and they can now be utilized for other purposes such as directly supporting strategic business objectives rather than becoming bogged down in frequent break/fix issues.

Controlling Costs

During these challenging times, the IT budget is frequently reduced.  In a recent survey of nearly 950 IT managers at companies in North America and Europe; nearly half of the U.S. respondents said they have already cut their IT spending budgets.  Unfortunately, a cut in IT spending doesn’t mean there is a cut in demand for services.  This adds tremendous stress and pressure on internal departments to support the same amount of work with fewer resources.

Technology Erosion

Computer systems must be maintained just like any other systems used within the business. Vehicle fleets, manufacturing equipment, and the physical plant, have all moved to a preventative approach. If a company does not implement this preventative maintenance strategy for its technology components, disaster might be the unpleasant and unprofitable result.

Compliance

Finally, the technology utilized within an organization in most cases must meet specific compliance standards.  For example, a company’s business processes supported by technology may need to comply with Sarbanes-Oxely, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and other requirements. Most companies don’t have the resources to fully understand and comply with all the detailed requirements of these regulations.

All of the above issues are driving the popularity of partnering with a managed IT services firm.  Companies that have made the transition already answered this question.  If deploying, managing and monitoring my IT infrastructure has absolutely nothing to do with the core competency of my business, why wouldn’t I outsource it to an expert?  This is a fairly easy question to answer and these organizations have reaped the rewards of increased profitability and a competitive advantage.


Are you a good fit for the cloud?

Is your company a good fit for the cloud?

Are you a good fit for the cloud?
When deciding if you are a good fit for the cloud, there are tell-tale signs that serve as reliable indicators.

This post is a great starting point if you’re looking to qualify whether your company is a right fit for cloud applications:

Of course, as a cloud computing provider, we geek out and get pretty excited about the cloud and the opportunities it presents to businesses. However, customers won’t necessarily have the same reaction. And some aren’t even great targets in the first place, either because they’re closed off to the concept of moving to the cloud, or they’re functioning fine as is. Rather than focusing on these organizations, it’s important to focus efforts on businesses that are open to change and have needs that the cloud can address. These early technology adopters and innovators will be excited to learn more about the solutions. Other good targets won’t even know how much the cloud can help their organization, and that’s where you come in. Below are some key things we look for:

For Cloud Computing

While we strongly believe that many businesses are ready to move to the cloud because it addresses various aspects of IT, there are some specific signs that an organization is a particularly good fit for the cloud in general.

We ask companies the following questions right off the bat:

  • Do you want to upgrade software?
    Do you ]want to refresh your hardware?
    Are you in need of a data backup plan?
    Do you want to cut down on CapEx?
  • Do want to implement BYOD (bring your own device)?

Once we’ve discovered some of you needs, we find out more about your organization.

  • What’s in its service catalog, and what are the top applications it runs the business on?
  • What are its goals and requirements for the future?
  • Who currently supports IT, and what is the leadership team like?
  • How does the business budget work? Is the organization in a stage of growth?
  • Do its users need data access 24×7?

All of these questions are important because they help us determine exactly how the cloud can fit your organization.

Maybe you  think you need one solution, but based on the information we’ve gathered, we know something else is a better fit.

For Infrastructure as a Service

Once we move into the specific cloud services, the signs we look for will change a bit. For Infrastructure as a Service, we  look for companies that are eager to always use the latest enterprise-grade technology but can’t necessarily afford to achieve this themselves.

We look for companies that:

  • Are running applications on physical or virtual servers
  • Are rapidly growing or scaling
  • Want to take advantage of enterprise-level hardware and security
  • Have limited capital
  • Have compliance needs
  • Have disaster recovery needs

Once we determine that you are a company that qualifies with some of the above criteria, we figure out what kind of infrastructure you have  in place today, including how many servers and their specifications (CPU, RAM, Storage). Additionally, we determine which operating system and critical applications the business is running. We are sure to determine if your  business currently has a plan in place if a server goes down, and if any equipment is due for an upgrade.

For Desktop as a Service

For Desktop as a Service, we look for companies that are interested in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend and have traveling or remote employees that have to be accommodated.

W e look for companies that:

  • Deal with refreshing desktops, laptops, or tablets
  • Want to move to a BYOD model
  • Have remote employees
  • Have employees who travel
  • Need the ability to add or remove users quickly
  • Have limited IT resources

Businesses that haven’t yet moved to the cloud may spend a lot of time maintaining devices like desktops, laptops, tablets, etc. We try to find out how much time is going to this task currently so we know if a Cloud Desktop or Cloud Office can help save time. Similar to IaaS, we find out what applications your  organization is running, because these could potentially move to the cloud. We are sure to get details on the licensing they own and how they manage it. Other questions might include how many users the organization has, how users are sharing files, and who currently manages IT?

For Disaster Recovery as a Service

For Disaster Recovery we look for companies that are extremely reliant on the availability of their data at all times.

We look for companies that:

  • Still run physical servers on-site
  • Live in areas affected by natural disasters
  • Have a very low RTO and RPO
  • Are heavily reliant on their data
  • Can’t afford to be down without their data
  • Need to have quick access to their data in the event of a disaster

We try to find out what kind of disaster recovery plan your business already has in place – do you back up your data, and if so, how long would it take to retrieve backed up data? Do you know what you’d do if all systems were down? We are sure to request your business’ Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO), and find out which business-critical applications are running in-house.

 


communications continuity

Prepare your business for winter storms

Before the next big storm of the winter season hits, here’s how to ensure your business stays connected.

Prepare your business for winter weather.

For businesses that use Broadview Networks’ cloud-based OfficeSuite® Phone, keeping in touch when their office must close is easy. Since the system is hosted in the cloud, changes can be made via an online portal that is accessible from laptops, tablets and smartphones. OfficeSuite Phone helps businesses deal with power outages; effectively manage working from home; keep the lines of communication open; and create a disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

Before the evening commute kicks off early today, here are a few tips for making sure your business does not lose touch during the storm.

  • Make Changes Online – to set up or change any of the features below, simply login to the OfficeSuite website.
  • Create a New Automated Greeting – Let callers know about changes in hours or closings. You can set up the Auto Attendant so that callers can be directed to employees’ home or cell phones, or to another business location that will not be impacted by the storm.
  • Set up Emergency Override – Ensure all calls to your business are handled. With Emergency Override Routing, all calls to all of your company’s phone numbers (that have this feature enabled) will be routed to whatever destination you choose.
  • Forward Calls to Another Number Using your Desk Phone – By setting up a Forward to Prompt button and pressing it before leaving your business today.
  • Modify Call Handling – Change where calls are sent when you cannot answer. Send calls to voicemail, auto attendant, co-worker or to another phone number, like your home or cell phone. Change this online anytime.
  • Change Incoming Call Routing – Modify where calls are sent so that each call can either be answered or handled with a voicemail box.
  • Set up Mobile Twinning – Have all calls ring your desk phone and your cell phone so you can stay in touch no matter where you are.
  • Get Voicemail Anywhere – in email as an attachment or transcribed message, with our free Voicemail App for iPhone or Android, or as a text notification.
  • Turn your Mobile Phone or PC into Your Office Phone – with our Mobile Softphones, your mobile phone or PC/laptop can becoming a fully-functional office phone that uses your business phone number.
  • Forward Calls, Open Trouble Tickets, Manage Toll-free Service, Pay Bills – all online viaeCare Enterprise.