As a managed services provider who delivers a wide variety of services to small and medium-sized businesses, we have some perspectives on IT management regardless of whether you currently use an MSP or have another IT management approach. There should be three components of your IT management:
- Planning and preparation to prevent issues, such as prescheduled maintenance and building your IT the right way, the first time.
- Effective reaction and response to IT issues when they arise…because no matter who is on your IT team, there will always be problems to address and IT support to give.
- Investing time and effort to establishing an IT strategy that will work for your business one, two, and five years down the road.
An Internal IT Person is Just One Person
The last item is where far too many companies fail. It’s called Strategic Advisement, and it’s hard because it’s inconvenient. It's hard because few IT guys have the strategic vision and perspective your company needs to thrive.
Additionally, if you have one internal IT staff person, chances are they are constantly dealing with IT issues and operate with a reactive state of mind. They may be really good at helping your users fix problems with Microsoft Outlook or your industry’s line-of-business application, but that alone is a full-time job. Combine that with managing your company’s tools, IT security, monitoring and data backups (if they’re being checked), etc. – there’s simply no time left for strategic thinking or serving as the company’s CIO or CTO as well, even if it is part of their skill set. If they (or you) think it is part of their skill set, how do you know? How do you manage a technical person and ensure they are adequately taking care of your company?
Without strategic advisement as part of your IT management portfolio, you run the risk of impeding productivity, falling behind the technology curve, and costing the company more money in the future.
IT Strategic Advisement: Critical Discussion Points
As a managed service provider, Apogee IT Services handles all three components of your IT management. We manage the strategic advisory function through our Technical Account Managers and by serving as your company’s vCIO (virtual CIO). Clients have a dedicated Technical Account Manager, who communicates with them regularly. They, along with other technical staff and senior management, meet with clients at least once a year to discuss strategic questions such as:
- What is your security posture, and is it appropriate for your business and your risk tolerance?
- Is your business continuity/disaster recovery plan appropriate for your business and risk tolerance?
- Do you need to change or upgrade your line-of-business applications? If so, is your infrastructure ready to handle it?
- Are there parts of your infrastructure that will be obsolete (aka hindering productivity or no longer supported) within the next year or several years?
- What is the status of your hardware/software? What upgrades and renewals do you need? Do you have any licenses expiring?
- What should you budget for new products, equipment, or upgrades? What time frame do you have for these projects?
By covering these questions and more on a regular basis, your company will be able to focus on innovation and putting in place systems that will empower your business both now and in the future. Apogee is ready to help.
(And don’t worry, we work with clients who have no internal IT staff as well as companies who have a small in-house team. We often work with in-house IT assuming basic infrastructure functions so they can focus on higher-level tasks, such as line-of-business applications and database management.
If strategic IT planning is lagging (or doesn’t exist) at your company, contact Apogee today. Technology is the driver of your future. We’ve got the directions and can get you there.