The “good old days” are often referenced by our older colleagues to refer to times when everything was more straightforward, simple, easy. The term is never used to favourable compare modern times with days gone by. It’s a wistful, nostalgic, nod to the past.
Experience tells us, though, that such references are very frequently influenced by another well-used phrase; “time heals all wounds”! We’ve got a few examples of this, below;
Nostalgia: “We didn’t have computers in my day, we used to write everything down and we were never ‘hacked’. We didn’t have to back anything up either.”
Reality: Almost without exception businesses used paper-based system that were subject to human error, both in terms of content, and of misplacing the physical book / document in question. Finding specific items of information relied on fastidiously maintained indexing discipline which was rarely up to the job. In the event of fire / theft, everything was lost.
In point of fact, the very first computer systems seemingly sought to bridge the generation gap by using physical paper, in the form of punched cards, to store business information. Thankfully the rapid evolution of technology consigned this bizarre practice to the history books relatively quickly.
Nostalgia: “What was wrong with just using a phone to make and receive calls?”
Reality: The original mobile phone closely resembled a house brick with an antenna. It weighed about the same too! To us, it seems churlish to complain about its modern equivalent being capable of so much more. After all, they can still make and receive calls too!
Nostalgia: “When my firm first got a computer system, we had an ‘IT Guy’ in the office who knew everything there was to know about computers”
Reality: In the early days, business owners were largely left to fend for themselves after making that initial purchase, and it often fell on the business owner or some hapless employee who had the gumption to fully read the manual, to be the go-to IT Guy. This was a terrible scenario and below, we’ll demonstrate why…
IT Maintenance – New Thinking
We do agree that not everything is better now, than it was then. But in this, we’re right; for the SME (Small and Medium) Business, it makes NO sense at all to go it alone. Don’t just take our word for it though, read the below reasons and see if we’re making sense here.
Let’s say you have 50 staff, with a typical configuration of one or two servers. Each user has a PC with maybe 10 of them also having a laptop. It’s too big a Network to have an employee who does a specific job but also handles IT as well – there would be too many distractions and s/he wouldn’t get anything done.
So, you would need a dedicated IT Support Professional at perhaps £25-£30k per annum. Contrast this to a typical IT Support Contract for a similar Network which would cost at most, £10k per annum for on-site, and about half that for Remote-Only assistance.
Good IT Support companies consist of more than one technician! This means that the service is unaffected by staff absences through illness / holiday / hangover or whatever. Moreover, because the service exists outside your business, it’s unaffected by staff politics and shifting moods! It is great to be understanding of cultural conflicts and to be respectful of people and their feelings, but when the support is delivered externally, it creates a productive immunity to the turbulence of daily business life.
Because your IT Support would be delivered from a team rather than an individual, it would effectively be the sum total experience from that entire team versus the knowledge that the individual has accrued over his / her time in the organisation.
In-house staff tend to stick to their remit and are often nervous of putting their heads above the parapet as it were. Your quality IT Support firm, on the other hand, will be always on the look out for ways to make your life (and thus, their life!) easier through better exploitation of technologies.
Such innovation doesn’t always represent a cost either; often, a shift to another product or practice can be achieved for the same less cost, and with a better feature set to boot.
A good IT Support provider is focused on one thing only; IT Support. This is, admittedly, a multi-faceted thing but it won’t include things such as “I can’t help right now because I have a job to do for the boss first” or “I’ll get to that as soon as I can”. They’ll have a dedicated support role and the framework in which to deliver it. This single-minded focus on the issue at hand often generates impetus to get to the solution far faster than would be possible via an internally driven support function.
It’s something that employees used to do, and continue to do! They try to make themselves indispensable. Solutions to problems are simply delivered with no documentation or explanation which over time creates a general reluctance to make the switch since the departure of the individual is perceived to be too impactful to bear.
Whilst this is almost never true, it’s definitely “a thing”. A quality IT Support company with clear, established practices and protocols, completely eliminates this. Nemark, for example, prides itself on being “flexibly transparent”. By this we mean, we can either fully explain what we’re going to do and / or what we’ve done, or we can just get on with it. The choice is the client’s. Either way, it’s all documented on our 24/7 ticketing system.
Wouldn’t that make it easier for our client(s) to make a switch to another provider? Absolutely. Do our clients switch? Almost never; we don’t give them any reason to! It’s a measure of the confidence we have in the quality and value of our service that we don’t hide anything. After all, it’s the client’s information – not ours!
What if the initial example wasn’t quite right, and you have someone on site who “knows a bit” about your Network but is constantly under pressure to do their own work. How much MORE productivity could you get out of that person if the burden of IT Support were largely removed, and s/he were left purely as an occasional consultation point as required?
You’re not still unsure, are you?
We believe that the above reasons are hugely compelling. We put “Cost” at the top purely because cost considerations drive many a decision within an SME, but the other reasons are just as important and, in some cases (Expertise, Consistency, Innovation are three glaring examples) even more so.
Time and time again we hear the phrase “I don’t know why it’s done this way – it’s always been done like that”. This applies equally to both business processes and also, business policy. The fact that you’ve always had an “IT Guy” doesn’t mean you should forever have one! We’re not advocating the firing of employees either, but surely they would be more productively deployed in the pursuit of your core business goals, as opposed to being stretched in different directions and not fully achieving the standard in any of their endeavours that you, or they, would aspire to?
If any of the above has struck any kind of chord, why not contact us to open a relaxed, productive discussion as to how we might simultaneously improve your IT Support and the output of your staff?