Five Ways Vendor Technical Assistance Improves IT

by

December 7, 2020

Vendor technical assistance (commonly confused with vendor management) improves IT in five ways.

And there’s always room for improvement. If you’re like most people trying to leverage technology to grow your business and innovate, you probably get a little perturbed when something doesn’t function as intended.

Have you ever had an exchange like this when you called your MSP?

Tech support: “Thank you for calling CloudMax. Mark speaking. How may I help you?”
You: “Hi, I’m Erin from Hightower Commercial Real Estate. I can’t get on the Internet.”
Tech Support: “Who is your provider?”
You: “Comcast.”
Tech Support: “Just one second. [One minute later] It looks like you went direct on that one. I’m sorry. We can’t troubleshoot on our end. You’ll need to call Comcast.”

To the client, this looks like finger-pointing and passing the buck. You want it to work, and in the heat of the moment, you’re not overly concerned with the back story.

 

Your MSP should do the heavy lifting.

This fictional MSP, from my example, doesn’t offer vendor technical assistance. If they did, they would be the administrator on the account and have a backline to Comcast tech support to troubleshoot.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “wing-team” running point: providing vendor technical assistance, managing tickets, playing referee, talking to engineers?

What about sharing information across their organization and others you work with, coordinating, identifying new vendors, documenting, updating, and being available for moves, adds, and changes?

Integris vendor technical assistance herds all of these cats, so you don’t have to.

 

Every ticketing system tells a story.

To provide further context, help desk ticket requests from our professional services automation system, classified by category (Vendor, Server, Cloud, etc.), form a knowledge base. As engineers interact with third-party vendors, they gain insights into what works well and what needs to be fine-tuned or replaced.

We then generate reports that our vCIOs use to make data-driven recommendations to all of our clients during Strategic Business Reviews or sooner if the situation is dire.

By constantly keeping a pulse on internal and external moving parts, we’re in the perfect position to make recommendations.

Explore one or all of the following links. Brief scenarios appear under each of the top five critical technology improvements cited by numerous SMBs in the United States, as reported in CompTIA Tech Buying Trends:

  1. Integrate different applications, data sources, platforms, and devices
  2. Improve cyber and data security
  3. Modernize equipment or software
  4. Implement new technology
  5. Improve operations through better execution

 

#1 – Vendor Technical Assistance integrates different applications, data sources, platforms, and devices

Everything is connected to the Internet. The trick is synchronizing the disparate pieces, so they communicate as a team.

Industry: Financial Services/Mortgage

Client Problem: A two-hundred-person mortgage provider was using two different office productivity applications, Microsoft 365 and G-Suite.

The two platforms were incompatible, creating company-wide issues with:

  • File sharing
  • Data backup
  • Calendar sharing
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Reserving conference rooms
  • Cybersecurity
  • Compliance
  • Delays when interacting with third-party quoting and proposal applications

Business Intelligence Sources: Help desk ticket history and client feedback from Strategic Business Reviews.

The Solution: Integris migrated the entire user base to M365, simplifying, standardizing, and driving better performance and tighter integration with their critical line of business applications and best-in-class security tools.

 

#2 – Vendor Technical Assistance improves cyber and data security

With over 35% of all computers worldwide infected with malware, cyber-attacks will not go away any time soon or ever.

It doesn’t help when 23% of us tend to open phishing emails.

No matter how sophisticated technology gets, 95% of data breaches are related to human error. We’re all very distracted. And curious.

Industry: Executive Search Services

Client Problem: A one-hundred-person healthcare IT staffing firm with a distributed workforce saw an increased volume of phishing emails and users clicking on links and downloading malicious attachments.

Business Intelligence Sources: Help desk ticket history and client feedback from Strategic Business Reviews.

The Solution: Integris helped to identify and institute a formal computer-based cyber training program and administer the program on behalf of the client. We selected a vendor with several consecutive years as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Learn More: KnowBe4 Gartner Review

 

#3 – Vendor Technical Assistance drives equipment and software modernization

Sometimes it takes a worldwide health crisis to understand the true value of your business continuity plan.

The work-from-home pivot prompted by COVID 19 raised a lot of questions:

  • Is it safe for employees to use their home computers?
  • Can we monitor employees to make sure they’re working?
  • Does everyone know how to use Teams and Zoom?
  • Why didn’t we replace our 10-year-old Avaya phone system five years ago?

Industry: Nonprofit

Client Problem: A 121-person animal welfare organization with three physical locations had to vacate its offices and work from home when the pandemic struck with a vengeance. Their premise-based legacy phone system couldn’t accommodate the shift to a virtual office. Call center, auto attendant, simultaneous ring, voicemail to email, and extension dialing were all put on hold. Call volume handling was limited and required many employees to pick up the slack with cell phones.

Business Intelligence Sources: Help desk ticket history and client feedback from Strategic Business Reviews.

The Solution: Integris vetted several different vendors to identify a VoIP solution to fit their needs – now and for years to come when they return to their physical locations. This initiative included meetings with the client, several demos, and challenging their thought process to encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Integris was also involved in the project work with the vendor to migrate the legacy telephony configuration.

Learn More: Nextiva Unified Communications

 

#4 – Vendor Technical Assistance drives the implementation of new technology

With SMBs, there’s a tendency to let third-party IT providers conduct their technical duties without close supervision.

Most people don’t know what questions to ask or have the tools to administer meaningful checks and balances, so it’s difficult to provide oversight.

Getting a second set of eyes on your systems every few years is always a good idea.

Industry: Healthcare

Client Problem: Two separate but related corporate entities with 30 people specializing in Medical Devices and Implants had an aging makeshift IT platform, supported by an IT guy doing this as a side gig. The red flags included unsupported operating systems, former employees/inactive users still listed in Active Directory, no password policy, out-of-date anti-virus, anti-spyware, security patches, and very little documentation. This situation caused performance issues and elevated compliance risk. One of the companies was interested in being acquired in a few years, so things needed to be cleaned up and separated for the upcoming due diligence.

Business Intelligence Sources: Help desk ticket history and client feedback from Strategic Business Reviews.

The Solution: Integris redesigned, separated, and partitioned the two company networks, retired older servers, and configured a new bare-metal server hosting several virtual servers. This effort enabled secure file access, shared network services, storage, and increased capacity to support a significant migration to Great Plains ERP and SolidWorks 3D CAD Design Software. Integris collaborated with third-party vendors (several meetings with the client, numerous email exchanges, and document shares) to identify the best migration path and timeline. The client was pleased with the performance and security upgrades. They were also delighted to sell their implant division a few years later (at a premium) to Wright Medical WMGI.

 

#5 – Vendor Technical Assistance strengthens operations through better execution

Service duplication is rampant in the SMB space. Businesses pay for Zoom when the same capabilities are available in M365 via Teams.

Many organizations have contracts with different copier/printer companies, forcing their networks and users to accommodate dissimilar manufacturers and standards.

There’s also a good chance the copier leases have different end dates and auto-renewals.

Wouldn’t you like to use those trapped dollars somewhere else?

That’s why identifying redundancies, excess costs, and ironing out operating glitches is always easier with a partner who has the people, best practices, and tools to sort through all the details.

Industry: Nonprofit

Client Problem: A 200-person family services organization with five locations was under multiple contracts for several dozen printers that were out of commission. And all of this equipment was being financed through a vendor who wasn’t doing a very good job explaining better alternatives. (Like downsizing and securing lower lease rates.)

Business Intelligence Sources: Client feedback from Strategic Business Reviews.

The Solution: Integris advised the client and met with the vendor to audit, consolidate, cancel, and relocate printers.

 

What’s Next?

Are you starting to see the benefits of merging service ticket data, vendor performance details, and insights from client meetings to make better business decisions?

Successfully integrating new technologies from dozens of different vendors isn’t easy, which is why the need for hands-on vendor technical assistance is vital.

We just scratched the surface, but I hope you have a better idea of how our approach improves the quality of your IT.

If you have questions about anything I’ve covered, we’d be happy to help!

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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