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What are the benefits of true proactive IT support...

The case for proactive IT support

Maintaining a well-performing, predictably available IT infrastructure for your company is obviously important.  Access to your business applications, customer data, and your financial information are critical for the success of your business.  If the computers and other IT hardware that deliver access to that information for you, your employees, and your customers fail, it will negatively impact your business.  Customers and employees become frustrated, and your bottom line suffers anytime you have IT problems or outages.

And, according to a recent study of IT decision makers by Forrester Research, IT support is reactive rather than proactive. In over one-third of cases (35%).

What is reactive support?

Reactive support is built around the idea of supplying IT help and guidance only when it is needed. The reactive service is like a safety net to be used when something goes wrong; if any business application or server fails, you call the IT support provider and they will prioritise troubleshooting the problem.

Because reactive support is used on an as-needed basis, the cost of a provider agreement tends to be lower than a more full-maintenance based equivalent. Where IT budget is tight, or your business already has some internal staff to provide general IT maintenance, a reactive support agreement brings upskilled, reliable resources at very good cost benefits. However, 

So what’s the problem?

Too often, IT departments find out about issues affecting availability and performance from the end-users themselves. According to a recent study of IT decision makers by Forrester Research, IT support is reactive rather than proactive. In over one-third of cases (35%), IT support learns about issues when end-users contact the service desk and open a ticket.

The reason IT support is reactive is that they don’t have the right tools in place to monitor the end-user experience and instead rely on issues being reported as they arise. The lack of data available to IT support is the barrier to becoming proactive. IT support needs a continuous monitoring and IT analytics solution that provides real-time insight of the IT infrastructure and endpoints from the end-user perspective (or from the “Outside-in”). 

Significant downtime can also be an issue if selecting a reactive working model. Engineers need to analyse the problem before they can begin remedial work, sometimes creating a short time-lag between break and fix. If updates or replacement hardware were needed, this could potentially prolong business downtime until the upload or order is completed.

Why be proactive?

The truth is that avoiding IT issues is only possible if you are proactively monitoring your IT hardware.  Staying ahead of potential problems, and correcting issues before they ultimately result in outages, is the key to maintaining availability and performance.  The concept here is truly no different than engaging in regular, proactive, and disciplined checkups…just like we do with other items in our lives.

We go to the doctor for regular checkups with the hope that if a symptom of a medical problem is detected, something can be prescribed to remedy the situation before a major medical issue occurs.  We bring our car in for regular maintenance, changing the oil, checking engine fluids, and checking performance of the vehicle with the hope of avoiding a major breakdown on the road, or a major mechanical problem. 

In both of these cases, a lack of scheduled checkups or maintenance, “reactive management” if you will, could lead to serious problems: a heart attack can result from undetected high-blood pressure, or a clogged artery that could have been easily detected and rectified ahead of time; low oil levels, or brake fluid which could lead to a vehicle breakdown, could have been easily addressed ahead of time.  And the resulting “cost” of addressing these issues without taking the disciplined proactive steps, could be astronomical: a major heart attack or a blown engine is nothing anyone wants to experience…and though these “real costs may be difficult to quantify, we all know they are significant”.

The same theory applies to IT.  There are “technical” things that can be done, “proactively” in the background, which will identify potential problems….much like regular scheduled checkups or maintenance.  Those technical things can in many instances correct the problem, or at the very least, tell you what needs to be done in order to rectify the issue and avoid an outage.  Things like disk drives that are performing poorly, and if not addressed, will fail.  

The difference with IT, however, is that this can only be done effectively if the infrastructure is being monitored and managed twenty-four hours a day.  IT hardware is susceptible and vulnerable around the clock…conditions are just that dynamic.  Someone, or more specifically something, like IT management tools, should be looking at your IT hardware all the time to give you the best opportunity to avoid any downtime for your business.  IT outages are much less likely, and much less painful from a business perspective, if potential problems are addressed ahead of time, rather than when a complete failure occurs. 

How to Identify what kind of IT support you are getting now…

So, how do you know if your current IT services partner is providing your with pro-active IT support? Are your users opening too many help desk tickets? How will you know if your systems being monitored properly and that regular system maintenance that has not been performed? 

A good way to discern if your IT service provider is actually monitoring your system is to check the number of tickets your company has raised. The more you have, typically the less preventive maintenance your IT contractor is performing.

Do they update you weekly, monthly with reports?

How do your staff feel? are they constantly moaning about their IT frustrations?

Ask your business these questions and then speak to SyTech IT about our levels of Proactive IT Support.

 

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Based In Keele, SyTech IT provide IT Solutions, Support & Systems for Industry and multi channel distribution businesses within Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Warwickshire, Birmingham and Manchester.

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