38 Percent of Businesses Have No Idea What Their Computer Downtime is Costing... Are You One of Them?

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Maintenance is always an expense until disaster strikes – that's when it becomes a bargain. Unfortunately, over 38 percent of businesses recently surveyed had no idea what their computer downtime was actually costing them.

But given that a third of computer repairs take 4-8 hours and an additional 16 percent take more than a day, for a small business with about £1 million in revenue per year, a day of down time could cost up to £1,500 or more in lost revenue. In addition, there are costs that are difficult to quantify but no less real for you as a business owner such as time spent by your staff trying to fix the problem themselves in the first place, time waiting for an engineer, and the salaries of your staff waiting to be able to get on with their job while the system is repaired.

How Does A Managed Services Contract Reduce IT Support Costs?

A managed services company will:

==> Operate your IT systems in line with best IT management practices.

==> Implement and support those best practices by the use of best of breed IT Management tools which allow their support staff to work more efficiently.
From a day-to day management perspective, automating the process of implementing best practices enables you to minimise the likelihood of experiencing systems problems:

==> All workstations and servers will be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches.

==> Virus definitions will be regularly updated

==> Regular backups will be taken of data and configuration files on your workstations and servers

==> Monthly server backup restoral tests will be run to check that you can recover with minimal disruption in the event of a system failure.

By implementing best practices alone you will minimise both the likelihood of a system failing and the engineering cost of recovery. The use of automated Management tools also however allows the management company to monitor the performance of every PC and server on your network so that they constantly have up-to-date information on:

==> System messages, error messages and similar diagnostic information

==> Disk and Memory Usage

==> Potential software and peripheral conflicts

By using Enterprise Management tools to monitor and manage your company systems, faults can be diagnosed more quickly and accurately so that repairs take less time. The net result is that your IT management costs are reduced and your staff become more productive. Perhaps most importantly, your company experiences fewer IT problems, allowing you to concentrate on the business processes that make money for you as a company.

Better Security Brings Greater Reliability

One of the most effective ways in which a managed service provider can help you to reduce costs is by helping you to enforce appropriate levels of security for your network. We would recommend that the network is set up so that the average user cant install software onto their PC. This helps to avoid conflicts with system software. It is also good practice to limit who can make changes to your system settings, which will prevent well-meaning users trying to "fix" something without your knowledge.

It is also strongly recommended that internet security should be incorporated as part of the managed services contract. One of the major causes of computer crashes is that a malicious program (malware) has been accidentally downloaded from the internet, and it is important to ensure that you are properly protected against internet-borne threats. Your IT management company should guide you through the decisions that you need to make about how you want to allow the internet to be used in your company. Your policy can then be implemented using security products from reliable companies, and you should receive monthly reports that will show you how your internet connection is being used so that you can decide whether any adjustments need to be made. These decisions will not only relate to security. Based on the information in your internet usage report, you may for example take a decision to limit the internet bandwidth that video can take up to ensure that it doesnt consume all of your internet connection and prevent your mobile workers from accessing their files successfully.

Good Housekeeping

Good housekeeping is essential as part of a managed service contract, you should agree how often your computer network will be checked for possible conflicts and problems. The frequency with which these checks should be made will depend on a number of variables including system complexity, the customisation of software and how reliant your company is on IT to function.

Regular maintenance visits sends a message to employees that you will get to know about any potentially inappropriate computer use so they may think twice about installing non-business software such as iTunes or Spotify. Maintenance visits can also solve minor issues or problems that arise so that engineer call-outs are avoided.

Summary

At a time when small businesses are increasingly reliant on technology, the management of IT can be a substantial headache for small business owners. Simply contracting to an IT Support company however condemns business owners to ever increasing support costs because of the absence of good housekeeping practices. Managed IT Services however allow you to drive down the cost of supporting IT for your company by employing enterprise IT Management software to proactively monitor the health of all IT systems in your company:

==> Best IT Management practices are followed thereby minimising the scope for problems to occur.

==> Many potential problems are identified before they cause system failure and can therefore be resolved with the minimum of system downtime.

==> When systems do fail, the engineer is equipped with all of the pertinent system information and error logs to minimise the engineering time required to repair the fault.

==> Proper backups are taken from all IT systems on your network to ensure that systems can be quickly restored.

==> A test restore of your server backup is performed on a monthly basis to ensure that backups are not corrupted (i.e. they will restore properly) in the event of a failure of your critical systems.

Managed IT Services are not just about computer support. The objectives are threefold:

==> To maximise the availability of the IT Services that you require to support your company operations.

==> To deliver the service with the greatest efficiency through the use of Enterprise IT Management tools

==> To minimise the cost of IT to your company by minimising the amount of time that our engineers need to spend on site.

By delegating the running of your IT to a company that has the tools and expertise to run your systems in accordance with best practices, you will be free to concentrate on your business. You will never eliminate IT problems, but you can reduce the frequency with which they happen. Furthermore, when they do, you can be assured that you will be able to recover from them as swiftly and efficiently as possible and at minimum cost to you.