The biggest IT problems are the ones you don’t know exist.
Organizing your business enabling technology into simple buckets is one of the best ways to track, score, report, and collaborate with your MSP.
While the IT world is filled with much more advanced models and reporting formats, the following three categories are easy for non-technical audiences to understand and use to make informed strategic decisions.
Your IT provider does a lot more than provide reactive technical support.
Behind the scenes, a team of certified network engineers employs a portfolio of automated tools to manage all moving parts that compromise your digital estate.
The term “trouble spots” appears in the title of this article because each of the following areas becomes problematic if you don’t grasp the general terminology and reach a consensus with your MSP to remediate weaknesses.
Do you want happier, more productive employees, who don’t spend an inordinate amount of time submitting help desk tickets?
Would you like to avoid cyber-attacks, bad publicity, legal exposure, and extra insurance liability? Read further and learn how to advance your score.
Every last device, endpoint, and piece of technology that touches your network should be monitored and managed by your MSP:
- ISP Gateways
- Windows Laptop
- Windows Workstation
While your MSP can not manage your network copier/printer/fax machine in the same manner as the vendor of record, they can tell whether it’s on or offline.
They can also troubleshoot integration issues with their technical counterparts at the copier company or any other third-party IT-related provider.
These resolution activities improve operating efficiencies, identify root causes of issues, and provide insights for modifications.
For this to work, all of the assets need to be covered by the MSPs Service Level Agreement, monitored with agents, and represented on your IT Roadmap.
If your organization has any sort of shadow IT footprint, your MSP will be much less effective in supporting your needs, creating meaningful reports, and protecting your digital assets.
They can’t monitor and support what they can’t see. Every piece needs to be accounted for and mapped.
Your MSP can also keep you up to date on warranties for your workstations, laptop, and mobile devices. You’ll want valid warranties on each item to get expedited service and repairs from the manufacturers. This becomes more important as equipment ages.
Highly functioning, up-to-date antivirus protection is imperative for every device connected to your network. What risks do you face when coverage and threat definitions lapse?
- Malicious dialers
- Hacking tools
- Email hoaxes
- Data theft
- Ransomware attacks
Windows patching seems simple enough. All windows devices on the network need up-to-date patches to avoid security risks. This process is automatic provided you have current and supported operating systems, and your users will respond to update alerts.
Here’s the challenge: PCs don’t always get updated in a timely manner when employees work from home on laptops. They may not be logged into the network so their machines are temporarily unavailable.
Others don’t like to follow the update prompts and reboot their machines. Who can blame them? It’s not always convenient. (Years ago, I was less excited about this exercise and didn’t alter my behavior until I started working for an MSP.)
In either case, your MSP will track antivirus and Windows patch update status and automatically generate tickets to effectuate compliance.
Your MSP can also oversee third-party patch management to make sure security coverage is up to date with non-Microsoft applications. Everything that touches your network is a potential point of entry for threat actors.
The same software that monitors, manages, supports, and secures each endpoint on your network pulls granular data on the health and wellness of your servers and your workstations.
Both product categories are vulnerable to capacity and resource consumption limits. When your server is oversubscribed, its response time starts to lag which has a ripple effect on everyone’s productivity.
The same is true of every device trying to access file shares on the network: slowness, more user tickets hitting the help desk, and a frustrated workforce.
The following exhibit is extracted from an Executive Summary. Their score is lower compared to the prior period because resource consumption is up. This is expected over time and this dashboard provides succinct data for the client to plan ahead and budget accordingly.
I hope I succeeded in putting a name and a face on a three-part framework to improve the way you organize, understand, and evaluate the effectiveness of your IT stack.
The workstation dashboard in the previous section has counterparts that apply to all the other important technology services you consume.
The Executive Summaries that contain key metrics on IT Assets, Security Monitoring, and Performance are frequently presented with Executive Summaries of Help Desk Tickets.
This combination allows clients to understand the correlation between system health and user support requests, and more.
The goal is always fewer support requests. How is your score?
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