How to Manage Your IT

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we probably don't need to tell you that managing IT can be a real headache for small business owners. It takes you away from what earns you money as a company, and can take a considerable amount of time.

It takes you away from what earns you money as a company, and can take a considerable amount of time. Whether it is uploading images from your server to user machines, backing up your data, or clearing up a virus on a PC, your time can surely be better spent serving your clients or customers.

Yet small business owners often find themselves on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to IT. Employing someone full time is difficult to justify. A good IT Manager commands a salary of at least £40,000 per annum, and it is difficult to provide them with a challenging work environment. IT Managers are "techies" at heart and prefer to get their hands on leading edge technology in large companies. Faced with a lack of a challenge and limited promotion prospects, they are also likely to leave, which in itself costs time and money to recruit a replacement, not to mention leaving you in the lurch while you try to pick up the loose ends using contract support staff.

This article explains how a Managed IT Service Contract will enable you to minimise the number of IT related problems for your company, fix them more quickly, and reduce the cost of supporting IT.

IT Support Challenges For Small Businesses

What can be guaranteed is that your IT systems will crash from time to time. It isnt a question of if, but when. Studies have shown that the average computer system crashes between one and three times a year. The worst part however is that it can between four and eight hours for an IT technician to repair a computer, and around half the time an engineer wont arrive on site until the next day.

When you sit back and take into account not just the cost of paying for the repair, but also the loss of staff productivity the costs of IT system failure really starts to mount up. When you add together the cost of a staff member not being able to do their job to the cost of onsite callout charges, the cost of a single system failure can easily exceed £1,000.

Given the mounting cost of onsite support, many companies attempt a DIY approach to computer repair, but in practice many if not most DIY repairs can take twice as long and often make things worse that they were in the first place. As a result, not only do your staff waste their time, but you then end up having to call out an IT support company on non-contract rates with the end result that you incur a double hit on repair costs.
In the long run, relying on "Break/Fix" computer support is almost guaranteed to fail to meet your expectations. Typical complaints from business owners include:

==> Poor response times – The IT company takes too long to call you back, schedule an onsite visit and affect a computer repair.

==> Poor Satisfaction With The Job Done - The engineer doesnt seem to know what they are doing.

==> Something has changed! - The PC never quite seems to work the way it did before it crashed.

Outsourcing Your IT

In reality, unless you have the ability to support your IT systems within your company, you will need to outsource IT to a computer support company.

You essentially have two choices:

==> Call an IT support company every time that you have a problem

==> Take out an IT Managed service contract with an outsourced IT company who will monitor and maintain your IT systems.

Whilst you will pay a higher subscription per month for a managed services contract, a managed service contract will cost your company less in the long run because:

==> Systems that are proactively maintained last longer and experience fewer problems than those that are only maintained when there is a problem.

==> A Managed service contract includes regular backups of data on workstations and servers that can save thousands of pounds in data recovery and lost productivity when a problem occurs.
==> A properly managed system will contain an audit of every system that is installed on your network, which makes it far simpler, quicker, and less expensive to fix problems on your systems. The information collected on your systems on a daily basis can also act as an early warning system for problems that may be about to occur in failing systems, allowing corrective action to be taken before a failure causes system downtime.

What Is Monitored As Part Of A Managed Service Contract?

There is little that can be done to maintain hardware components of your PCs, laptops and servers. The preventative part of Managed IT Support relates to:

==> Making sure that the latest updates are installed for all software installed on the PCs and servers.

==> Monitoring how the system is being used (e.g. Disk and Memory usage)

==> Ensuring that backup procedures are followed as well as data recovery procedures to ensure that you data can be restored successfully in the event of a system fault.

It is especially important to ensure that the latest virus pattern updates and scan engines are installed on all IT systems and that the latest Windows patches are applied since the latest internet threats actively seek out unpatched systems onto which they will install malware that will not only steal your employees online identities but which will also make your PCs run more slowly, and eventually require a rebuild.

Hardware Breakdown and Repair

PC hardware rarely breaks, although power supplies and hard drives can fail. You should however consider whether computer cleaning needs to be undertaken on a regular basis if your working environment is particularly dusty. Generally, computers can go for 6 months without needing attention providing they are properly maintained. If a PC is not properly maintained, faults will occur more frequently.

How Long Does It Take To Repair A Computer Problem?

Depending on the nature of the computer system and the nature of the repair, computer repairs can take from minutes to multiple days. Newer operating systems are more resilient and can usually be repaired more quickly than older versions. It is also very difficult to maintain operating systems that are no longer supported by Microsoft, so we would always recommend that you keep your IT systems up-to-date.

Regular System Checks Are Vital

It is of paramount importance that your systems are regularly checked for possible conflicts or problems. As part of a managed service contract your service provider should recommend and implement an optimal schedule to keep your system running smoothly, taking into account the complexity of the system, the extent of data management usage, customization of software and how critical individual computer systems are to your business.

Six Reasons Why a Computer Maintenance Contract Can Cut Repair Time in Half!

1. Fewer problems tend to occur in the first place.

2. The computer service provider is already familiar with your system and software.

3. Common problems, such as software and peripheral conflicts have already been resolved.

4. Any changes to the system (which are frequently the source of the problem) are known.

5. A system log lets the technician rapidly check usage, error messages, and other diagnostics.

6. The technician knows the history of your system -- whats been done, whats working, and whats not.

Managed IT Services will save you money because the largest component cost of supporting IT is having the engineer on site. The "going rate" for engineering time is fairly standardised across support companies. Consider the following:

==> Approximately 33 percent of all computer repairs take 4-8 hours

==> Approximately 16 percent take more than a day.

Based on the above, you have almost a 50 percent chance that when your computer breaks, you will be paying for at least 4 hours of technician time. Managed IT services reduce on-site time required to support your companys IT operations, thereby saving you cost over the long term.

==> You require fewer on-site visits
==> You pay less in call-out charges
==> Your staff spend more of their time earning money for your company