Aspects of Managed Services Support

Aspects of Managed Services Support

Managed services and break-fix services play essential roles in supporting your business in IT-related matters. Small and medium entities face tough choices in deciding between the two aspects and complementing IT resources as well as personnel in place. 

Managed Services vs. The Break-Fix Mentality

Just as the name suggests, the Break-fix mentality interacts with your business only when you experience IT problems. 

The vendors of break-fix services send IT professionals to your location to provide remedies at your business location. 

After finding a solution to your IT problem, you are charged for the services rendered. The break-fix services have no ongoing fees and do not tie you to any contracts.

On the contrary, managed services entails outsourcing service providers that share the responsibility for your IT system. 

It creates an extensive and continuous relationship between your business and your service provider. 

Such services work off your business premise and use their systems to supervise and deal with identified IT problems. Mostly, the problems are identified before you experience any system outages. 

Why Break-fix is No Longer Good Enough for Your Business

Below are the main reasons why the break-fix mentality is not any good for your business. 

Subdues Productivity

When you use this model, you are forced to assign your IT needs to your employees. Since this might be a good idea in the short term, it reduces the level of productivity and leads to wastage of resources. 

Cost

In this IT model, you pay for labor, repairs, and consultation. It is impossible to budget for the issues, and there is no reasonable way of establishing whether you are paying a fair price. 

Besides, there are no preventive measures that you can put in place to avoid any problems in the future. This leaves you susceptible to surprise system breakdowns and costs. 

Extended Downtime

In this model, when you experience an IT problem, every minute costs you money. The sporadic nature of this model leads to extended repair time. The extended downtime and the additional repair time increases the cost making it undesirable.  

Do Managed Services Cost More Than Traditional Break-Fix Services?

Managed services cost more than break-fix services. Managed services involve the provision of a recurrent service, which translates to recurrent expenses. 

The services differ based on your business’s needs though it is vital to be proactive in using IT services to achieve business objectives. 

When you use this IT model, you accrue higher upfront fees, monthly subscription fees, and monitoring fees. 

Engaging a managed service provider increases the level of visibility and your capability to establish robust IT strategies. In as much as it is effective and creates accountability, the services cost more than the services rendered in the break-fix model. 

How Are Managed Services Priced?

All businesses want to minimize costs, but that is just one factor you need to think about. Therefore, you need to understand all the pricing aspects of IT services models before you make a decision. 

Managed IT services pricing is based on the following.

  • The number of users
  • Risks Involved
  • Your needs

The price of managed services depends on the monthly cost per user, the coverage, the number of specialists, and the extent of coverage. 

The level of support included and your levels of business that the support is designed for affects the pricing of managed services provided to you.  

The Real Benefits of Managed Services

The benefits of managed services are clear. The model provides IT services to every aspect of your business. As a result, your entity achieves higher standards of IT services. 

Implementing managed services in your business offers several benefits, including:

Enhanced Productivity

Outsourcing IT functions dedicate in-house IT experts to projects that promote innovation and enhance achievement of set objectives. 

Promotes Scalability

Most entities find it more useful to start small and expand according to the growing needs. Managed services make it easy for you to scale either up or down and increase capacity depending on the scope of changes in your business needs. 

Keeps Pace with Your IT Demands

When you outsource IT services or partner with skilled IT professionals, you alleviate the pressures associated with keeping pace with the dynamism of technology. 

Contact us for professional advice on the best IT model for your business.

What is Included in a Managed Services Agreement?

What is Included in a Managed Services Agreement?

A managed services agreement is a contract between a provider of managed services and a client. It creates ties of the service level between the parties and records the primary understanding regarding different aspects of the deal. 

The agreement represents different aspects of your engagement, including:

  • Response times
  • Service-level agreement
  • Limitation of liability
  • Termination clause
  • Clarity of outline of support tiers
  • Service escalation process
  • Phases of setting priorities
  • Labor rates

Below are the things that need to be clearly outlined in your managed services agreement (MSA). 

Services

You need to identify the elements of the services covered, including supported IT services  and those not supported by your managed services provider (MSP). 

You need to ensure that there is clarity on your responsibilities and those of the service provider. 

By clearly outlining the services not covered in the agreement, it prevents any likelihood of holding your service provider liable for any incidents not outlined. A clear outline of the services allows your service provider to work for issues outside the agreement. 

Terms and Conditions

Identify the provider of managed services and their contact information during and after working hours. The agreement needs to stipulate the pricing, terms of payment, and the duration of the contract. Also, it clearly outlines the date when the contract starts, ends, and when it auto-renews. 

Termination of Agreement

The contract between you and your managed services provider outlines the rules of termination, the need for adhering to regulatory requirements, and the owner of the data once the contract ends. 

Length of Warranties

The agreement includes the specifications of the hardware used and the information regarding different types of hardware used in implementing a managed services model. 

Authorization of the Managed Services Provider

The MSA provides extensive information on the licensing of your provider and SaaS.  

Backups

The contract specifies the terms and the length of incremental copies and the total number of copies. 

Limit of Liability

The MSA outlines your confines on instituting legal proceedings for negligence against your provider. Also, it includes information on risk allocation by your provider. 

Insurance

Aspects of cybersecurity insurance are included in the MSA. It covers the level of coverage for your managed services provider. Also, it outlines aspects covered and not covered in the insurance policy. Your MSP needs to give extensive information on any potential liabilities. 

Definitions of Terms

The contract explores the meaning of different terms for all parties. It includes terms that are specific to the entity, providing managed services to your business. 

Discretion

The managed services agreement includes other agreements including the:

  • Licensing agreement
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Non-disclosure document
  • Non-complete document for your provider’s employees 

Assignment Clauses

The document considers the contractual obligations of both parties and specifies the responsibilities and rights that can be transferred. 

Illegal Behavior

The MSA includes a plan of action of prompt reporting to the authorities in case either party notices prohibited behavior. Also, it emphasizes that you are expected to follow a certain course in notifying the authorities. The list includes the major aspects included in a managed services agreement.

Contact us to help you develop an agreement that is satisfactory to both the parties and facilitates the growth of your business.  

3 Critical Services Your Current IT Support Is Missing

3 Critical Services Your Current IT Support Is Missing

It’s always fun for IT guys to see people in the financial industry marvel at Bitcoins and their fluctuations. Here in IT, fluctuation and change are the norm.  A significant service can be a lifesaver now but give it a few years, and it will be completely null.

Herein lies the problem. In IT, things change fast, and businesses that don’t adapt to these changes are flushed down the toilet. This is why choosing an IT Support is a daunting task. The service spectrum is broad, and needs are always changing, and it’s always difficult to tell if your IT service provider is providing you with the best services, or leaving some vital things out of their checklist.

Your IT service provider may be missing the following boxes on their service provision checklist:

Cloud Cost Optimization

The internet always seems free for everyone except for IT firms. Your internet provider may be intentionally or unintentionally, making you pay way more to the Cloud Service Providers than you should. Statistics show that most companies spend about 36% more than they should be paying to their Cloud Service Providers such as AWS.

Most IT businesses lose out on massive savings by outsourcing their Cloud Management to IT Service Providers who overlook cost optimization. To these providers, just getting you to the cloud is an accomplishment, even if your business has to spend fortunes to use it.

There are a plethora of actions your MSP should be undertaking to cut your cloud costs significantly. Your IT service provider should be:

  • Using or be heavily invested in Cloud analytics
  • Integration of Auto Scaling To reduce costs
  • Using AWS cost optimization tools
  • Power Utilization Practices such as Power schedules
  • Right-Sizing Of Computing Services
  • Use of Spot instances when necessary

Contingency Plans and Security

Once you have outsourced most of your IT service requirements to an IT firm, the security and safety of your data and the customer’s data becomes a priority. The two most essential things in security are contingency plans and constant improvement. Though most MSPs invest heavily in security, very few offer “Plan Bs” when the ceiling caves. Failure to plan, in IT more than any other industry, is planning to fail.

  • Your MSP should have:
  • Clearly laid out Disaster Recovery Plans
  • Insurance in case of a Cyber Attack
  • Extensive and Secure Backups for your data

In terms of constant improvement, your IT service Provider’s security plan should always be evolving. Security in IT is not a destination but a journey. Malware is continuously changing and improving, and so should your IT providers Security Plans. Your IT provider should be keeping up with the following cybersecurity and malware trends:

  • Increase in instances of Ransomware
  • Third-party Cryptomining
  • State-sponsored cyber attacks
  • Artificial intelligence in cyber terrorism

Regulatory Compliance

For years now, it was assumed that the web and IT were beyond regulation. Well, the amount of regulation in IT has significantly increased for two fundamental reasons. Governments and regulators have spent the past few years catching up. Also, the rise of IT and its growth has seen IT expand into uncharted territory and industries increasing its influence. This has called for more regulation.

Navigating the regulatory landscape is an essential service your MSP needs to offer. Some of the past, present and future regulations that have been lorded over the IT industry include:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union
  • Consumer Privacy Act in California (CCAP)
  • The Biometric Data Law in Illinois
  • Consumer Online Privacy Right Act(proposed Bill)
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
  • To show how a lack of regulatory compliance can cost a business and how fast the regulatory climate is changing, YouTube was recently fined $170 million for violating the COPPA regulations.

Regulation in itself is a noble idea, but it may lead to massive losses in money and time if neglected. Your IT provider has the responsibility of preparing you for future regulations and how they will affect your business. Your IT provider should be able to

  • Extrapolate your current investments and plans to see if they will be legally viable in the next ten years or so.
  • Align the services they offer to ensure that they comply with present and possibly future regulation.
  • Assure the privacy of your IT firm and the data of your customers and staff.

Though it’s true that the IT climate is always changing, we here at 4 Corner IT have always been changing with it. For any inquiries about IT and Custom solutions on your IT needs, contact us and let us be part of your story.

Can You Do Your Own Tech Support? Yes, and No

Can You Do Your Own Tech Support? Yes, and No

As a small business owner, you already know the value of technology. And you may try to do it all on your own. But, there are some areas that you are better off outsourcing to an expert. On the flip side, there are many things you can do without assistance to keep from dipping into your profits. Here are a few DIY IT dos and don’ts.

Do choose your own phones and computers

When it comes to selecting the right devices for your business, options abound. Your phone is a terrific example. In most situations, it is between Apple and Android, so look at each operating system’s top-of-the-line models.

The iPhone XS Max, for instance, is a lot in a small package. It offers a generous screen size, the fastest chip available in a phone, takes stellar pictures, and has a long-lasting battery life. Most new Apple phones also come preloaded with facial recognition and other privacy features.

For Android, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, which is plenty fast and has a fairly large screen. What’s more, it includes lots of advanced security features, such as a designated file for sensitive information. It also functions through a platform designed to ward off cyber criminals – which Bentley University points out, these days cybercrime is of increasing importance, especially to small business owners.

Don’t try to handle data security unless you’re an expert

Data security is one of the most important aspects of your business. If you collect any personal information, you have to make this a priority. But, it is not as simple as just installing malware software to your computers, backing up your systems, and changing your passwords every so often.

Digital Guardian recently published more than 100 data protection tips; this clearly illustrates that protecting your data requires specialized knowledge and lots of it. Investing in a freelance consultant or company to help with your data security might not make you money directly, but it can help prevent a data disaster that could bankrupt your business.

Do fix common internet and equipment problems

Communications are cyberspace-centered these days, so you almost always need access to the web. But, before you panic and start shelling out money for a quick fix when your internet is down or a device fails, try troubleshooting things yourself.

Many common internet problems are solved by simply resetting your modem or wireless router. If things are suddenly slow, you might even check your internet provider’s terms of service to see if they lower speeds after X amount of usage. PC Mag also suggests changing the Wi-Fi channel if you are in a building with multiple wireless networks. Likewise, get familiar with how to fix paper jams on your office printer or copier. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that most issues can be fixed without expensive intervention.

Don’t design your website

A shoddy website is the equivalent of a brick-and-mortar building at the backside of an alley in the bad part of town. In other words, most people are going to steer clear of it. If your business is not web design, don’t try this at home. Look for someone to tackle it for you, such as a JavaScript developer with a solid grip on HTML, CSS, Grunt, Bower, and Gulp.

If you don’t know what any of those things are, that’s a sure sign that you need a pro. A great developer can create a compelling website that’s PC and mobile-friendly and will keep your users from clicking over to the competition. Remember, a top-notch, pleasing website is an investment that will bring a return, particularly if you have an e-commerce shop.

You don’t have to outsource everything, but you should put your money where it matters. Digital security and your online presence are not DIY tasks. Choosing your phone and office equipment, and tending them when needed, often are. Don’t be afraid to admit the things you can’t do, because the most successful business owners understand their specialties and are willing to pay for support where it’s required.

How Do Managed Service Providers Benefit Real Estate Companies?

How Do Managed Service Providers Benefit Real Estate Companies?

Real estate companies typically perform a variety of functions including both the buying and selling of residential and commercial properties, along with minor or perhaps even major involvement in the rental markets as well. While the real estate industry has been somewhat reluctant to wholeheartedly embrace technology as an integral partner to help them provide services to their clients, there are signs of that changing.

Streamlining Communication

Real estate agents typically spread their time between the office, visiting properties with clients, as well as working from home. One of the ways a managed service provider can help make the work lives of real estate employees easier is by offering them a VoIP communication system. With one phone number accessed over the internet, real estate agents are much more available to both clients and other real estate staff. An added bonus is that VoIP is significantly less expensive than traditional methods of voice communication.

Simplifying Tenant Oversight

Managed service providers can also help set up applications that help automate tasks involved in tenant oversight. With property management software, the more mundane tasks such as running credit checks on potential tenants along with analyzing past payment records is now automated. Digitizing lease agreements can help real estate companies reduce their previously enormous paper use, down to a fraction of its former level. Property management software can also automate some of the processes involved in the tracking and collection of rental payments as well.

Expanding Globally

Professional MSPs typically view keeping abreast of the latest technology trends as one of their primary responsibilities. This allows them to provide the necessary support behind the scenes for these newer types of technologies. For the real estate market, this means MSPs can make suggestions regarding the best apps, social media outlets, and websites for reaching the widest audience available. Real estate agents can reach a wider audience by providing recorded video walkthroughs, along with photo close ups of unique features of a home or property, then uploading that information for viewing by a global audience.

If you would like more information on how to expand your real estate company by using a managed service provider, please contact us.