If I have learned anything over the past 20 years serving the IT needs of small businesses, it’s that the details matter.
Without a process, systems, and discipline, “managed services” aren’t managed at all. I keep encountering business owners who pay a premium to their vendor for managed IT services, but really do not have that at all.
It is disheartening to me to see how many companies make claims of proactivity and do not deliver on them.
A big reason this happens?
IT support partners lack a disciplined, detailed process for serving their clients.
When it comes to managed IT support, I have developed a philosophy about processes that serves my business and customers well. For us, a process requires three key elements to be a true process:
- The process itself, which might be a checklist, for example.
- Quality control, which is the means by which the manager of the process knows the process is being executed as designed. Often, this takes the form of reports, dashboards, or workflow rules that warn of problems.
- Executive oversight, which is the means by which the business executive knows that the manager is maintaining quality. Often this is a report on trends for key performance indicators (KPIs).
This is important because, with IT, the devil is in the details.
Your business is only as protected as your vendor is disciplined.
Let me give you three specific examples where paying attention to the details really matters.
How Your IT Support Partner Handles Firewalls
Firewalls for small businesses require regular updates to firmware to stay viable. They require monitoring and subscription renewals—as well as periodic manual review to make sure they are working as intended.
Any vendor that sells you a firewall without a plan to keep that device up-to-date and operating optimally is doing your business a great disservice.
How Your IT Support Partner Handles Backups
Backup software fails.
Backups reported by the software as successful also fail.
Please do not trust backup software. It will let you down. Even the most basic, successful backup processes include the following key elements. Make sure these are in place for your business. And if they are not, find another IT support partner.
- Have regular backups on-site for quick recovery.
- Ensure regular replication of backups off-site for protection against common risks such as cyber-attack, theft and fire.
- Provide regular monitoring of backup jobs.
- Execute routine testing of backups. You cannot be confident you’ll recover from a failure unless the backups are routinely tested. In my business, we test restores twice monthly at a minimum.
How Your IT Support Partner Handles Endpoint Protection (aka Antivirus)
This software should be installed on every endpoint. And there should be a process for making sure that it stays installed and up-to-date.
Many malware variants damage and disable this software. It also frequently becomes outdated. Monitoring the software with its own console can be unreliable, too. In our business, we monitor endpoint protection software with other third-party tools, and we manually spot-check and confirm functionality regularly.
Evaluating Your IT Support Partner Is a Must
If you are a business owner or principal and you’re unsure that your vendor is doing this necessary due diligence, you need to ask. And please don’t take their word for it.
In my experience, lots of small IT companies think they are doing a great job…and are not. They just haven’t yet learned how, or they are more sales-focused than operationally-focused.
You need to see the details for yourself. There should be documentation, or there should be systems and processes that your vendor can show you.
If you don’t have answers, ask your IT vendor questions such as…
- Do you employ recurring tickets to make sure the needed tasks get done?
- What tasks do you execute and at what frequency?
- Do you have quality control processes in place?
- Can you show these quality control processes?
- How do you ensure nothing slips through the cracks, placing my business at risk?
If your vendor can’t—or won’t—show you proof of their discipline, seek a second opinion.
Your business is likely underserved and exposed to more risk than you know.
If you’re ready to see how reliable and secure your IT infrastructure really is, let us provide a FREE second opinion. Get in touch with us online, or call us at 704-464-3075.