If You Think You Need a Computer Tech, You Probably Do

Most small and medium business and not for profit organisations have a similar mindset when it comes to business ICT and cyber crime.  That attitude is the old “everything will be all right” and “it won’t happen to me”. 

To the scores of SME’s who have lost their intellectual property, been hacked or had their client list stolen, I could say “I told you so,” but I won’t.  The problem is that most SME’s who have this attitude do not understand how the cyber criminals attack their business, or any of the other things that can go wrong with today’s technology.

This is where an IT person comes into the equation.  For an SME, ICT is what makes your business run correctly, but to make it run at the highest level you need to get information from an expert.  In most cases, an SME considers Google the expert.  Google, combined with “someone who knows computers,” is all that they need to get the best out of their business’s ICT.  Sorry, but that is completely wrong!

There is one large problem with this attitude:  When consulting Google you have to have the right questions.  In most cases, the answer to your question is out there on the internet, but when it comes to getting the best for your business the beauty is in the question.  The more accurate the question, the better the solution will be.  I don’t profess to know how Google works, but in my line of work, we also use Google.  An answer to a question I type in would deliver far more accurate information than a question from someone who just “knows computers.” 

Recently we were troubleshooting a problem on a site.  The client had an on-site computer person, who had been working on the problem for about a week.  The problem was starting to have monumental repercussions for the business, and they called in a professional.  Going in, we had no idea what was wrong, but after about one hour we had a fair idea.  We then asked doctor Google the right question.  Not only were the results totally different from anything the IT tech had turned up, but the actual answer was the second result.  The solution was a quick change to the registry, removing a number of temp files, and a restart of the problematic systems. 

We were on site for about two hours, and the total cost was $300.00, but there was no more loss of productivity within the business.  Considering they lost about $10,000 in productivity, it’s clear that persisting with a tech person who does not know what they are doing is a total waste of money.

In today’s world, your ICT systems are the lifeblood of your business.  You can’t just set them up and then ignore them.  To keep them running at the right level, you have to ensure that they are secure, productive, stable and resilient.  That is a tall order for someone who just “knows computers.”

So how do you avoid IT disasters, and the costly visits from consultants that come with them? A managed service provider will deliver the necessary level of expertise so that your business can focus on what you do best:  Using your expertise to make money, create revenue and drive profit.  That is why you are in business—not so that you can play with computers.

Build a ICT support package for your business

Business technical support, whether it is in house or outsourced, is a management headache.   Today’s business and tomorrow’s future business is all based on digital information.   That is not the problem, the problem lies in all of the systems that your business requires to do business.

From producing documents and spreadsheets to contact information for clients to sales information all the way through to management and protection, you have systems that have to be managed by someone.   That management and how you pay for it is going to be critical to your future and the future of the business.

I could throw a large amount of buzz words around here, cloud, virtualisation, BYOD, and the like but these are just the technology.   They are the media for you to do business.

The most important components of your ICT are resilience – the ability to react to change, culture – the get up and go of your business and finally management – how you get things done and why you do it that way.   The only way to protect this Intellectual Property is with a management and ICT system that is transparent to your business.

To make management decisions you need to see what is happening with the technology, your business has to be transparent to you.     You can do this in house with your own ICT support team and the inherent cost that come with it or you can out source it.   By outsourcing your ICT, two things happen, you get better trained IT technicians and you get a flat monthly management fee with no hidden or unforeseen costs.

You also reduce your ancillary costs within the business.   No more super, no more extra desks, seating and offices, no more replacing staff after you have trained them up because they have had better offers.   What you do get is trained ICT people, access to knowledge that your business needs to compete in your business environment and NO ADDITIONAL COSTS.

If you want some information, talk to a ICT outsource company, a Managed Services Provider and get the correct information concerning your business.    Their MSP plans should deliver Trouble Free Technology to your business.

Can we help you and your business to a more stable and profitable business environment – A MSP can!

Most Businesses have an ICT investment of about 7% GDP  this can equate to a significant investment for any business.   Reducing that by just 1% can greatly increase your bottom line.   Most small and medium businesses and not for profit organisation need to find ways to increase profitability, reduce costs and use innovation to benefit the bottom line.  To do that the organisation needs to look at a number of available services and capabilities especially those supplied by external contractors.

The business drivers for reducing cost in all available areas of a business can be daunting so the use of a managed service provider could be beneficial to your business.

The managed services provider (MSP) should be able to do the following for a SME or not for profit organisation.

Reduce waste

By making sure that a business does not have duplicated systems, using virtualisation and increasing the capability and requirements of the in place infrastructure.   An MSP should bring considerable waste reduction to a enterprise with recommendation for better ICT infrastructure and the ability to change capital expenditure to operation expenses.

This alone will improve the organisations bottom line because the business is only paying for systems it is utilising to do business while not paying for large capital investments that put sever strain on the businesses cash flow.

[easy_contact_forms fid=3]

Increase productivity

Just like the old days where the just in time principle applied to mechanical spares, today’s business can leverage a similar capability.   The just in time principle relied on having spares in store when they were required and not eating money and storage on items that may not be used or may never be used.

When this principle is applied to today’s business it allows a enterprise to have the flexibility to add and remove storage, CPU cycles, RAM and business capability as required.   This comes from utilising cloud based systems, virtualisation of servers and desktops and the integration of BYOD into the business environment.

Increase business

Today’s business world needs to have the ability and agility to add and remove capability when required.   The ability can then be translated into your business requirements.   This allows your ICT infrastructure to be project based and deliver on those projects.   The creation and addition of required systems that can be shut down and removed on the completion of a project makes for a more flexible business environment.

It allows management and business to increase profits based on the business ideas.   No longer does a business have to expend capital to increase the capability of the business.   The use of a MSP allows for further savings for a business.   They will have the required expertise and capability on staff to allow the business to utilise them without have to increase the business spend on hardware, software, staff and training.

Enhance business agility

A good managed service provider will allow your business to be more agile in the work place.   This agility comes from the ability for the business to see opportunities and to leverage the ICT requirements to face and conquer that opportunity.

This allows the business to go off in tangents, creating better and more agile business processes and to work into newer and more versatile business environments.   An agile business can change its business direction, make profit, see further opportunities in the change and continue to change and morph to suit the business available.   This can be done with minimal changes to the ICT requirements.   Not having to put on more technical staff, more equipment or more resources makes the business more agile but by increasing your monthly cost makes for a better way to see the cost associated with your business requirements.

Enhance cyber resilience

The catch phrase of the new business world is to enforce security for all components of the business.   From the introduction of RFID to using SSL and TLS to secure information at rest as well as in transit.

Once again the MSP world can help you by knowing what your business requires to protect that critical business information.   From front facing firewalls to security access and business auditing the MSP can help secure your business data with a limited increase in the basic cost of doing business.

A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) can be an additional business resource with  a huge impact on the capability of the business with additional business processes and policies to enforce your business stability.

Its about the support

Most MSP’s are in the business of business support.   Yes, they are in the business to make money but most of them are looking to support small and medium business and not for profit organisations properly.   By  making sure that there is a flat fee for the technical support helps both the supported business as well as the supporting business.

The supported business knows exactly what they are going to get and how much it will cost per month.  The supporting company knows exactly how much they are going to receive and can budget and allocate resources based on their clients.   The supporting company can also allow its staff to meet stringent training and qualification requirements so that the support is always of the highest caliber.

Unlike the large support companies, IBM, Dell or IDS, most MSP’s are looking to make a profit but not at the detrimental of a really good business relationship based on mutual growth and respect.   This drives the requirements of both businesses.

To gain that respect they will often give more that they take.   From the technical support requirements to training staff in password etiquette, from disaster recovery to cloud computing advice a MSSP or MSP will make your business hum.

If you want someone to help make your business hum then contact us on this form.

[easy_contact_forms fid=3]

Why do big ICT companies have no idea of the requirements of not for profit organisations?

One of my clients recently received a proposal from a large ICT company based in Canberra that I found very interesting.

We manage a large number of not for profit organisations in the canberra and ACT area of Australia.   Our clients range from 3 users up to 50 users and 80% of them are not for profit organisations.   We are no means the cheapest managed services provider in the ACT but, I believe, we are one of the best and we deliver exceptional value for money with our blended managed service solutions.

I am not saying that to brag but our repour with our clients and our capability to deliver high level business and ICT support have given us glowing testimonials and references.   Why I am saying that is we deliver great value for money to those not for profit organisations based in Canberra.

One of our best features is that we go out of our way to deliver the best solution for businesses with little money to invest In their IT infrastructure.   We do not deliver sub standard and we always deliver over what we have promised, furthermore if we quote a price that is how much they pay.   We have NEVER gone back to a client and said it is going to cost more than we quoted so they have to pay more.

So to get to the crux of this article.   We were recently privy to a proposal from a large ICT company.    Our client is a large national charity that is separated into sub groups, individual locations and they all have separate budgets.   Like all not for profit organisations all of the money that they raise goes back into their cause.   They do not spend money outside their cause without some serious consideration.   Everything they do is for their cause

This group has a database system that creates reports that are used to justify government spending, the system tracks their business processes and is used to manage their staff and clients.   This system was purchased and installed  across the whole of the organisation for under $10,000.00.   One of the idiosyncrasies with the organisation is that although they are the same organisation they like to keep everything they do as separate and separated as possible.

Each of the areas of this national not for profit are so protective of their own little piece of Australia that they have their own boards and management structure, their own ICT support and their own way of delivering their benefits to the local community.   The only standard is the way they report to the government.   The ICT support for individual areas is delivered either internally or as a managed service, in most cases as a donation or at seriously reduced costs.

If you had this understanding of the not for profit organisation you would know that to approach them with a $150,000.00 initial cost and $17,000 per month proposal would be totally ludicrous.  Furthermore it shows that you have no understanding of the systems and politics of the organisation as well as showing a lack respect for their cause.   Maybe it was the sales team just putting the proposal out there, but a lot of work went into it.

So at a sales level it is a total fail, but at a technology level it is also a total fail. Not for profit organisations are looking to improve their technology but not at a cost and detriment to their cause.   In most cases they will invest in a solution as long as it fits certain criteria.   Like any organisation they are not looking for cheap, but they are looking for value for money, improved functionality and better ways of doing business so that the savings can be reinvested in the cause.   This proposal fails at both of these levels.

Just relying on security technology can damage your business!

Man standing with laptop and wifi antennaNearly every day you hear about another security threat spreading across the internet. As a small or medium business, or a not for profit organisation (SME) how vulnerable are you to these threats?

SME’s are connecting to the internet in record numbers to support improved and greater market opportunities, to increase productivity and to strengthen communications with staff, management, customers and suppliers. The problem is, the more you open your network and business to the internet the more your confidential business information and data is at risk.

So you think you are too small to be a target?

Think again, if you use Microsoft software then you are a target by default. Microsoft is not bad but it has the largest market share, therefore any released virus, worm or application created by a hacker can achieve more with less. These programs spread rapidly and inflict damage on a global scale and you, as an SME can be caught in their net.

Security threats are constantly emerging and evolving, the job of securing your business information becomes all consuming. Little jobs take time – updating and checking anti-virus, patching and updating operating systems and applications, checking firewalls with renewed rules and policies are a critical requirement of your business risk analysis.

They still have to be done regularly.

The importance of checking these components in a timely manner cannot be underestimated. Consider the cost in lost productivity, reputation and non-compliance penalties that a breach could visit on your business. Effective security can be costly, time consuming and difficult for SME’s to implement successfully. Skilled security people are often difficult to find and cost prohibitive to have on staff. As a result the job often falls on the technologically savvy staff member who is already snowed under with other ICT matters or their own job to implement security features properly.

Today’s security threats are business size neutral. They leave a SME with the same security challenges as large corporations. The trouble is that SME’s do not have the depth of resources to handle them. This is where a Managed Services Security Providers (MSSP) can be of benefit to your business.

What are the benefits to your business of outsourcing your security?

You can focus on your core business

Outsourcing allows all of your staff to concentrate on revenue generating business initiatives instead of computer, security and infrastructure issues. Having limited IT resources on staff takes business resources away from your core business.

Reduced Cost

Outsourcing security sources provides your business with access to “big business” security protection at an affordable price. The expense is more cost effective than hiring or contracting a security expert and the consistent monthly billing helps ensure security services that you need are available without unforseen hassles and expenses. An integrated and comprehensive solution that can help reduce the expenses of maintenance, upgrades and add on security solutions is a benefit to any business.

24 X 7 (always available) expert security staff.

You’re on staff, in house expert is normally available only during working hours. In most cases your outsourced Security Company can act as an always available security and ICT management department. They can also provide your business with access to an internet security expert without incurring the cost of hiring, training and retaining highly skilled staff.

Gain Customised Service

All MSSP’s have service plans and you can select the service plan that will fit your requirements.

Receive up-to-date protection

Technical security solutions such as firewalls, antivirus software, content filtering solutions, and virtual private networks (VPNs) are far more effective when they are maintained regularly with the latest system updates. Changes to your business resilience and regulatory requirements can also have a detrimental effect on your business stability.

Why R & I ICT Consulting Services is right for you!

How do you know you are getting what you paid for?

  1. Company reputation – see what our clients are saying about us. We have references and referees that you can ask.
  2. Plans and services – we have a comprehensive assortment of plans and services depending on your business requirements and size.
  3. Service Level Agreement – all of our plans and services have a service level agreement incorporated into them so that you know what will be delivered in protecting your business.
  4. Guarantee – We guarantee all of our technicians work with a 100% money back guarantee. We also stick to any pricing that we put forward to you. All projects are priced on a per project basis so that no matter how long it takes it will not cost you anymore. No more “time and materials” projects based on how long is a piece of string that have costs blowing out uncontrollably.
  5. Monthly Reports – we supply monthly reports that are delivered with your next month invoice. We like to prove how much we have done for your business in the last month.

 

Stop talking about “cloud computing strategy” there really is no such thing!

bigstock-Thinking-man-Detailed-vector--25171361For the third time in 2 weeks I have been privy to conversations concerning a businesses cloud computing strategy.

In all cases it has been an interesting conversation concerning the storage and movement of data to cloud computing, without an overriding reason for the process.

The problem I am seeing is that, in all cases, the businesses had lost the original focus of their requirements.

They should be looking at the complete ICT strategy for the business with a cloud computing component not just a single component of that strategy.

The cloud offers opportunity for the IT department to deliver better outcomes for a business, it offers a better price point for storage and in most cases delivers other cost effective business outcomes.   In itself the utilisation of cloud computing technology will make changes to how a business does business.

It usually moves the IT department away from the high usage, labour intensive and costly processes that are part and parcel of business IT to a more sustainable and cost effective system.

But it is not the only strategy that you should be looking at.   Just because you are moving some of your businesses processes to the cloud does not mean that you neglect the rest of the business ICT requirements.

Cloud computing and storage is still only one facet of the business ICT requirements and that should be remembered at all times.

Who is going to keep australia safe online?

Small and medium business and not for profit organizations (SMB) are becoming an easier target than previously understood when it comes to cybercrime. One of the largest problems for these businesses to understand is that they are a very easy target because of their size.

SMB’s do not have the resources or the financial support to spend large amounts of time and money on the protection of their business.   This lack of investment means that they have a “just enough is good enough” attitude to the security of their business, this I am afraid, is false economy.   No matter what the business, the theft of money, clients and / or Intellectual property will have a detrimental effect on the business if not actually putting it out of business.

The introduction of IPv6 in the near future will make the protection of SMB business that much harder.   IPv6 is the next transmission protocol for the Internet and although it is understood by most technical people the basic understanding of the protocol is lost on 99% of the Internet user population.

The introduction of IPv6 as a transmission protocol will make it so much harder to protect your business and your users from the Internet.   The introduction that HAS to be done, IPv4 has already run out of addresses, is being delayed partly because of the security implications of the new protocol.

I really hate it when i have to put calculations into a post, but the primary difference of the transmission protocols is the number of addresses IPv4 has 2 to the power of 32 ( 2 x 2 x 2 (32 times) where IPv6 has 2 to the power of 128 (number of stars in the galaxy plus a couple of billion).

The address pool is huge, but the management of that address pool is going to require some serious computing power and management.   Is that management going to fall on government, industry or someone who is neutral?

I am not going to go into all of the difference but some of them are profound and will have major implications for all users but it will have the biggest effect on Government Departments, defence systems and business infrastructure.   From a technical point of view it will be a vast improvement and some believe that it will speed up the Internet but the down side is also profound.

Security is going to be a major problem.  The proliferation of attack vectors, spyware, malware, viruses and SPAM will mean that SMB’s will be under constant attack.   Is that protection going to fall directly on the shoulders of business to find more expensive or prohibitive security systems, processes and compliance requirements or is there going to be some level of Government  intervention.

I am sorry but I do not have the answer to that question and at the moment, to tell you the truth, I don’t believe that anyone else has either.   Hopefully the powers that be will have an answer in the near future, definitely prior to the global switch, so that everyone is playing on the same field.

Will a managed services (MSP) contract save you money?

DoctorTechnology can be a funny thing, one second it is working and the next second it’s not.   Sometimes you don’t even have to do anything to it to make it break.  If you now apply that to a larger scale, then a break in your business technology can have a sudden and lasting impact on your business and your staff.

When your ICT systems fail you need to have someone who has the correct skill set to resolve the problem.   Not only do you need the hard skills to resolve the problem but you also need the soft skills to reassure your staff and management that everything is being done as fast as possible but also with the greatest care.

Those technical skills including troubleshooting and resolution management are hard enough to find but in combination with the soft skills required you really need to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen to start off.

With a failure in technology you now have the additional problem of lost revenue, lost sales, the cost of down time and the cost of the fix or resolution of the problem.   How can you protect your business from this level of inconvenience?

There are a number of ways but the best solution to this inconvenience is the implementation and installation of some level of network, computer and user management that will protect your business.   This can be done in a number of ways but the best one is to outsource your technology problems to an external business or a managed services provider (MSP).

Some business have problems with this idea, an MSP does not have the same level and commitment as someone who is on staff.  This problem can be resolved by utilising a good Service Level Agreement (SLA), this will ensure that the MSP is committed to protecting your business as if they were a shareholder.

Most of the Other problems can be resolved with the application of common sense, talking to some of the MSP’ s clients, or just basically doing your due diligence to ensure that what they say is reflected in these referrals.

The SLA will also ensure that your business has no hidden costs.   The monthly fee for management and monitoring, should also include help desk, onsite and off site support and the resolution of any problem reported during working hours.   Out of hours and weekend work can be included but the cost will reflect this requirement.   This outsourcing solution will put professional ICT personnel at your fingertips at a monthly cost that you as a business can afford.   This is possible because you have negotiated your requirement at the time of signing the SLA.

Furthermore a good MSP will look at your requirements and act like a business analyst.    They will put the needed technology at the businesses fingertips because they have gone out of their way to understand your business.   This creates a better business environment for your staff and will improve efficiency and increase revenue which will eventually increase your profits.

This may also be reflected in better client management and better internal systems making the business of doing business easier.   Yes a managed services contract will save you money in the long run.

For more information on MSP’s

MANAGED SERVICES – TAKING OWNERSHIP OF YOUR PROBLEMS

3D Small People - AngryIn business the greatest threat to the information and data within your business is the speed to which you and your staff have access. Problems like everyone’s email not working are a big decision, but it is easy to delegate the repair to either internal teams or external companies. When things go wrong you want them fixed NOW and fixed FAST.

What about the niggly things?  Your user wants to print to the third tray on the printer and cannot, your receptionist wants to send out a letter but the mail merge database is no longer connected.

As a business owner or management level executive you don’t want to triage the problems.  Most of the time the management or staff does not have the time or the expertise to look at and resolve the problem, and often the person with the problem is told to “get over it”.   This is not a good state of affairs.   The problem then festers and grows till it does have a major impact on the business.

The best solution for these problems is to get them fixed.   How can you do that without additional cost to the business?   What you then have is a catch 22 situation.

Wouldn’t it be better just to contact your support company and know that it is all covered under the managed services agreement?
The business world is full of computer support and managed services companies that want your money, now don’t get me wrong we are a managed services company, and a good one at that, just ask our clients.   The difference between the other MSP’s and us is that we take ownership of any and all of your technical problems.

So what is the benefit of being one of our clients?

If you have signed up for out 5Nines support program, especially the platinum plan – trouble free technology – then all of your problems are our problems. Your problems are our problems, we take ownership of any problems or complaints that are generated by your staff during working hours that are related to computers, printers, internet, and email… practically anything.

Unfortunately we have no control over the coffee in the lunch room but for a taste of the problems we will fix:

• My mail is not working = our problem;   solution – remote in or send technician onsite;     Cost to you $0 (covered as part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA)).
• How do I create a mail merge document in word 2003 or 2007 = our problem;  Solution – remote in and talk user through problem and show what needs to be done;               Cost to you $0 (covered under the SLA)
• Helpdesk has noticed that one of the computers is reacting sluggishly = our problem; Solution – remote in and fix problem and then report to management;                  Cost to you $0
• System reports problem with a service on the server = our problem – Solution – dispatch technician;          Cost to you $0
• My computer is not working = our problem; Solution – dispatch a technician with a “loaner computer” then replace and repair;               Cost to you $0

The SLA dictates when they will be seen and response times to problems associated with your network.   They are an agreement between you and the MSP to ensure that you and your technology is protected 24/7.

Service levels should relate to items like these but they also depend on a triage process to ensure that a small problem is not related to a bigger unidentified problem .

• Server crash  = our problem – Technician onsite within 60 Minutes;           Cost to you $0
• Workstation Crash = our problem – Technician onsite within 60 Minutes;           Cost to you $0
• Service down = our problem – Technician working on the problem remotely within 30 Minutes;       Cost to you $0
• Printer problem = our problem – Within 4 hours;          Cost to you $0
• User problem = our problem – Next business day;        Cost to you $0

Finally, for any business there needs to be metrics that are measured and reported on. This is also true about your managed service provider. Daily, weekly and monthly reports on the condition of your infrastructure are important for decision making. To improve your business and ensure that the technology is correct and directed at your business, a quarterly report and meeting should also be included as a standard for your managed service.

As you can see not all managed service providers are the same and it is a case of choosing the right one for your business. R & I ICT Consulting Services can help manage and solve these important IT decisions and leave you with more time to get on with the day to day running of your business.

Do you budget for a system failure?

3d man director on stage, ACTION !System failures can happen anytime.   A system failure is something that happens with your technology that reduces your ability to do work.   When that happens it can be a costly exercise in both money and time.

The question is how you budget for something that may or may not happen and may or may not have a significant impact on your business.

A small inconvenience like an application hanging on a work station, the printer not functioning properly or a user receiving that email in one minute instead of 20 seconds is usually seen as an inconvenience.   The way of the modern world that inconvenience can expand into a full blown psychological tantrum.   If it happens enough times then your business can suffer.   Additionally there is always the hobby technician on staff who knows computers and then everyone stands around an watches while he

How often have you done business with someone who has said to you on the phone “the computers are slow today this may take a little time” and thought to yourself typical.   There are times when the computers are slow but it usually comes down to user error – doing too much, too many application open, clicking on the same icon numerous times – that is the problem.
Then there are the big system failures, hard drive failure, server failure, database failure and they will have a huge detrimental effect on your business both to rectify the problem and in lost productivity.   These problems and issues need to have a systematic approach to be rectified.

So how do you budget for these types of problems?   Most of the time, when it happens a small and medium business has to dig deep to find the financial resources and technological know how to rectify the problem.   This is not budgeting this is just hoping that it won’t happen to you.

One of the best solutions to how you budget for a system failure is to have a managed services provider manage your business infrastructure.   Why would this help?   Most managed service providers, the good ones at least, have an all you can eat policy on technical support.   This means that anyone in your business during working hours can call, email or fax the help desk and know that they will have the problem resolved.   The resolution may come from talking through the solution, remote management of the PC by a technical expert or having a technical person actually come to your office.

Furthermore a managed service provider will also monitor and manage your main systems.    With a decent monitoring system in place they will know when the system is having problems well before it has a significant impact on your business allowing your business to replace and upgrade systems when it has the least impact on your business.   In addition to the monitoring they would provide you with a monthly report showing whay your system is doing.

The budgeting component comes into play because for all of this work that a managed service provider is going to do will cost you X amount of dollars per month.

With a managed services provider you are budgeting for a failure by having a static monthly cost and professional services at your call.   This would improve your business bottom line.