Managed IT Services

Managed It Services

Outsourced IT support typically comes in the form of managed services.What does that entail? What should you expect? How can it help?

There’s a lot to unpack, and this guide will get deep into the primary aspects of IT managed services.

  • Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
    Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
    Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

    & Disaster Recovery

    What Is Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?

    From a more technical point of view, these two concepts encompass everything your business needs to weather a disaster event.

    Business continuity specifically focuses on the critical ways to keep the business operational while you adjust to disruptions introduced by the disaster. This can include relocating employees, switching to different networks, calling up back-up resources, and a whole lot more.

    Disaster recovery has a lot in common with business continuity, but it’s separated as a concept for a reason. Essentially, disaster recovery aims to get you back to an operational status after a disaster takes your business offline.

    In either case, the concepts form around a robust plan of action that anticipates issues and strategizes solutions before they occur.

    What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

    What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

    Business continuity really boils down to the action plan. It needs to account for every way your business could go offline and incorporate redundancies and strategies that keep you operational when disaster strikes.

    In fact, risk assessment is the first step in building your continuity plan.

    The good news is that you don’t have to predict the unpredictable. Instead, the plan emerges from reviews of your regular operations. Could you carry out business if you had no electricity? What if a particular building became unusable due to a flood?

    When you think in these terms, it doesn’t really matter what the disaster looks like. You’re strategizing around outcomes — building a plan that really can account for just about any scenario.

    Once you account for the primary risks, then you plan for the redundancies that need to go into place. This includes things like data backups, power redundancies, internet redundancies, remote work systems, and even building evacuation protocols.

    Adding to that, the plan lays out steps to take in the event of various failures and shortages. Whatever you face, steps for continuity are already in place, leading to faster and more effective reactions in the face of truly unpredictable disasters.

    Managed Backups

    Managed Backups

    In IT business continuity and disaster recovery planning, an essential component to establish is data backups. Your business relies on important data to operate, and losing access to that data often proves catastrophic to operations.

    Every IT provider under the sun preaches the importance of data backups, but you will want to improve on this concept.

    Managed backups build monitoring into your recovery infrastructure to make sure they’re always in running. Backup management incorporates processes like daily backup completion, verification of the data back up), replication of data to the cloud, and more.

    Additionally, managed backups vary the ways you preserve your data, ensuring that you have both local and cloud data reserves for a more robust backup strategy.

    Keys to Success

    Keys to Success

    The most successful business continuity and recovery strategies all have a few things in common.

    First, they prioritize employees. Some disasters create little or no impact for employee safety. Ransomware and similar attacks can prove disastrous for your business, but they typically don’t put employees in direct danger.

    Unfortunately, many other disasters come with major danger components. Disaster mitigation strategies incorporate this, and employee well-being comes first.

    The second key to success focuses on customers (do you see a theme emerging?). Keep them in the loop. Some of your redundancies should focus explicitly on maintaining channels of communication with customers, specifically so you can tell them what is happening and what they can reasonably expect.

    Clearly, that communication will depend on the nature of the disaster, but if you make client communication one of your top priorities, you’ll find that you still have a customer base when the emergency starts to calm down.

    Third, the best plans build around the concept of uptime. Risk assessments find the fundamental ways that you can lose uptime. But then, you want to build redundancies and even whole plans of action that revolve around maximizing uptime, especially when uncertainty is at its highest.

    You invest in business continuity and disaster recovery because uptime can’t be guaranteed in all circumstances, but orienting around uptime helps you create the most robust approach to disaster planning.

  • policies-&-procedures2
    Policies and Procedures
    Policies and Procedures

    and Procedures

    Why Are IT Policies and Procedures

    Policies and procedures tell employees what to expect and how to act under various circumstances. The whole point is to outline acceptable behaviors in the workplace.

    Let’s be clear about this. IT policies and procedures are not about dictating every single action to employees. Instead, it’s primarily about education.

    Particularly when it comes to technology, habits and behaviors can either create or mitigate risk. In fact, poor security hygiene is a leading risk factor for businesses across all industries. Thus, the policies and procedures teach employees best practices when engaging with technology.

    Beyond that, the policies and procedures also provide detailed instructions for dealing with unexpected situations. What should employees do in the event of major technological downtime? Policies and procedures can answer that and many other important questions.

    How to Create an Acceptable Use Policy

    How to Create an Acceptable Use Policy

    One of your core policies is the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). This is the formal set of rules that shows your employees how to safely and effectively use computers and IT resources with the business.

    It can govern practices with business assets, but it can also inform best practices when employees use their own devices for official work.

    The idea behind the AUP is to use the rules to limit threats. It can also inform your continuity and recovery plans.

    When drafting your AUP, focus on these keys to success:

    • Scope
    • Code of conduct
    • Business use
    • Compliance and legal requirements
    • Data
    • Personal devices
    • Social media
    • Enforcement and consequences
    When to Review Policies and Procedures

    When to Review Policies and Procedures

    The final primary component of policies and procedures revolves around updating them. Businesses change over time, and policies and procedures need to change too.

    When should you review them?

    Conventional wisdom says to review and update your IT policies and procedures at least once a year. This prevents any major issues from creeping into outdated policies.

    You can split an annual review into segmented quarterly reviews. Each quarter, you tackle a different section of your policies and procedures. This offloads some of the burden that can build up toward annual reviews.

    Beyond the schedule, it’s important to review policies when you make major IT changes. If you add a location, upgrade your infrastructure, or invest in a major software package, update the policies and procedures to include the new stuff.

  • vendor-and-asset2
    Vendor and Asset Management
    Technology Vendor and Asset Management

    Technology Vendor
    and Asset Management

    What is Vendor and Asset Management?

    This service (or group of services) provides direct support in managing vendors for your business. Are you having problems with your internet? Calling and working out the issues is covered in the service. In terms of IT, vendors can cover a wide spectrum, and that’s one of the reasons that vendor management will save you time.

    On the same note, you’re likely to own IT assets. These are things like computers, servers, communication cabling within your building, and any other IT equipment that you might directly purchase (or lease).

    Asset management involves cataloging and tracking all of your assets. By doing this, your service provider can help you anticipate maintenance and replacement schedules for your assets.

    Considering the nature of these two services, it’s easy to see why they’re bundled. If you need to replace or upgrade assets, you’ll need vendors for that (much less the many other vendor relationships you maintain).

    Pros and Cons of Outsourcing IT Vendor Management

    Pros and Cons of Outsourcing IT Vendor Management

    Just because you need IT vendors, that doesn’t mean you necessarily need or use vendor management services. Many small businesses strive to build and maintain their own vendor relationships.

    While that’s perfectly reasonable, there are benefits to outsourcing IT vendor management. You gain IT expertise, people that know the vendor’s language and how they provide services. That expertise can also assist when you evaluate costs for present and future tech investments.

    Then there is the matter of time. Do you have the time to do it yourself or the budget to hire another employee to handle your vendor management.

    In plenty of cases, your vendor manager already has existing vendor relationships. Those relationships can help you secure the right services for you and not the add-ons you’ll never use.

    Outsourcing Always Comes with Cons as Well

    That said, outsourcing always comes with cons as well.

    In some cases, you might feel out of the loop and like decisions aren’t directly under your control. Sometimes, when you lean hard enough on your experts, it can inhibit your own learning and growth.

    Of course, if you find a vendor management service who advocates for your business, you can minimize the cons while maximizing the benefits.

    Vendor Management Guidelines

    As you explore vendor management, a handful of guidelines can help you ensure that you’re getting the most from your investments.

    Start by assigning roles and responsibilities. Make it crystal clear which party handles which aspects of vendor negotiations, contract management, and resolution. At the same time, get vendor compliance standards in writing.

    As with any business relationship, outline liability in the event of data breaches or other vendor-related issues, and lock down contract essentials — like termination, vendor controls, and commitment schedules.

  • leveraging-technology2
    Leveraging Technology
    Leveraging Technology


    Microsoft Teams

    Microsoft Teams is not essential across all business models in all industries, but it’s one of the most widely accepted collaboration platforms in the world for many reasons. It makes a great case for how you can leverage technology.

    Primarily, Teams provides powerful and intuitive video conferencing and collaboration tools that make it easy to connect with others remotely.

    When you try to leverage technology like this, you empower your own success by ensuring that you know what you’re getting into. Ask questions, such as “what is the purpose of the platform?”

    Figure out how your provider is deploying and managing the software. Talk about how it can and should be implemented across your organization. Dig into the details before you start making big changes. This will always help you avoid headaches and create smoother transitions when you bring in new tools.

    When it comes specifically to Teams, we have a whole checklist you can go through.

    Compliance Assurance

    Compliance Assurance

    When you bring technology into an organization, it often handles data, and that comes with responsibilities. Namely, the people you interact with have rights to privacy and data security, and you need to be sure you live up to those rights.

    All of this boils down to compliance. Compliance standards vary by industry, but HIPAA makes a perfect example.

    HIPAA is the governing set of policies that dictates how healthcare providers handle patient information. If a doctor’s office uses computers, those computers have to be used and set up to follow HIPAA standards.

    The thing about standards is that they are specific when it comes to technology which is not readily understood nor implemented. Even though HIPAA was created for healthcare, it often makes more sense to involve IT experts than rely on care providers.

    The whole point is that your IT support providers can help you with compliance assurance. They can make sure your systems adhere to HIPAA — or whatever compliance standards and regulations relate to your industry.

    When it comes to industry regulations and standards, you get more than peace of mind outsourcing IT. You partner with a company that will support you in the long term.

    Streamlined Hardware

    Streamlined Hardware

    Every business runs on some amount of hardware or equipment in the office. You need the right tools for the job.

    An essential technology managed service monitors equipment hardware and provides suggestions for upgrades and replacements.

    Have you ever wondered if the devices you’re using are really optimized for the work you perform?

    If not, then you undoubtedly have opportunities to improve your ROI on IT spending.

    Applying AI to Your Business

    AI is here, and it’s growing quickly. Simply put, businesses that ignore AI will fall behind those that don’t.

    AI comes in all shapes and sizes, and keeping up can feel like a lot. Fortunately, you can lean on your IT experts to help you find and implement the most relevant AIs for your operations.

    Here are a few examples to help you think about potential:

    • Data and analytics
    • Service support bots
    • Email and scripting automation
    • Marketing operations
    • Input/output office work
  • it-support-provider2
    IT Support Provider
    IT Support Provider

    IT Support

    How to Choose an IT Provider

    When you think about IT, support is often the first aspect that comes to mind. When things don’t work, you need experts who can fix them. That’s IT support in a nutshell.

    But, how do you find the right provider?

    Like any business decision, you figure out the specifics of what you need, estimate what that’s worth to you in dollar amounts, and shop around.

    To get you started on that journey, consider this checklist:

    • Vertical knowledge in your industry
    • Scalability
    • Responsiveness
    • Cybersecurity knowledge and tools
    • Active planning
    • Support levels and schedules that fit your business
    • Compliance knowledge and assurance

    Getting the Most From Managed IT

    Even after you pick a provider, there are measures you can take to maximize value.

    That starts with taking advantage of their expertise. Get them involved with your business strategy, planning and budgeting. They can show you technologies that provide exactly what you need, and they can help you anticipate costs early.

    Most importantly, create ways for them to educate you and your team. Education leads to productivity which maximizes your ROI. Take advantage of the software you own by knowing what it can do to save you time.

    Lastly, customize the services to the extent that you can. IT providers deal with a lot of clients, and they understand that one-size-fits-all doesn’t really work in this space. Work with them to build out solution packages that are tailored to your business

    IT Support and AI

    AI is already everywhere, right? What does that mean for IT services?

    Are human beings going to be replaced by bots every time you need help fixing a computer? Does AI outshine IT experts in strategy and planning? How does AI impact IT costs?

    These are valid questions, and the answers can vary quite a lot.

    The best answer is that you need to talk to your provider (or prospects) directly to get the answers. Most tech companies are trying to implement chatbots to offload the easiest, most routine help desk issues. Those bots are going to improve rapidly over the coming years.

    IT companies that stay ahead of the curve will certainly use AI in their own business. Tap that knowledge and see how AI could help your customers and company.

    AI is as much a part of IT as any other industry. Have the conversation and really understand what this means for your IT provider relationship.

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IT support on the Sangoma phone discussing cybersecurity, cloud solutions, technology consulting, or IT help desk