As seen in The Maryland Coast Dispatch
When it comes to your company's technology, what does satisfactory mean to you? Maybe you're not constantly fighting downtime, but when it happens, it takes a toll on productivity. Sam Card discusses the risks of not knowing when something will go wrong or what it will cost to fix it.
Q: How does a business owner recognize when "satisfactory IT management" isn't benefiting their organization anymore?
Sam Card: There are some definite, measurable signs that you can look for when evaluating your IT partner. Inconsistent response times
is an important one. Let’s say your network is down and you're not sure why, so you call your current IT provider for help. They prefer to come on-site
to diagnose the problem. Sometimes that takes a few hours and other times a few days. There is no consistency of service and every minute of downtime
is costing your company money.
Lack of software automation is another. Software is constantly changing. Updates, bug fixes and newer versions require time and expertise to navigate. Without standardized templates and scheduled installations, a large chunk of your budget could be spent on repetitive activities that could have been automated.
Q: Isn’t the break-fix route of IT services cheaper?
SC: It may seem so at first, however, there are risks of not knowing when something will go wrong or what it will cost to fix it. While hourly, ad hoc or as needed services may seem like the more affordable solution, the costs are open ended. This makes it practically impossible to stick to an IT budget and downright scary when the invoice arrives. Hourly billing also gives no incentive for a break-fix provider to find a permanent solution to an underlying problem.
Have you ever heard the phrase, prevention is better than treatment? That same advice applies to your IT environment. It's certainly important to fix what
isn't working, but without proactive maintenance, you could incur the same issues over and over again.
Q: Can you give us an example of how a managed service model is a better fit for a small business?
SC: Recently, we were asked to assess the IT of a local construction company where the CFO manages their technology. When problems occurred, the CFO contacted their break fix provider. They were experiencing inconsistent response times that caused downtime and delays, and billing by the hour to fix their problems was costly. Software updates were also considered additional billable items and therefore there was no predictable budgeting.
The construction company moved over to our Cards Complete Managed IT Services package, where proactive monitoring was implemented and software templates were created for automation. With downtime practically eliminated, the CFO now focuses on managing the business finances instead of worrying about IT problems. The entire company saw a huge productivity increase.
Sam Card is the Founder and CEO of Cards Technology, which has grown from a humble computer repair shop to a full-service technology management firm that thrives on building valuable and lasting relationships with the businesses of Delmarva. After more than a decade, Sam looks back on how things have changed since he began his career fixing personal computers.
Q: What is different today about your company, regarding its capabilities and services, compared to 10 years ago?
Sam Card: The better question is probably what isn’t different? I think the biggest shift happened between 2003 and 2004, when IT downtime started to become a major problem. For example, customers would call to report that their email was down, and I would let them know that I would be out there tomorrow. This would be met with a panicked response of “No Sam, our emails are down, you don’t understand. We can’t run our business.”
Fundamentally, we can wait for our IT to be fixed, but we can’t afford our IT to be down. People don’t turn around and do paperwork anymore while they wait for a fix. This new sense of urgency sparked the development of our proven 5-step process; we get to know our customers and, from there, come up with a plan that helps them stay productive and avoid downtime.
Q: How have your services changed?
SC: The direction used to be, “we’re here when you need us, call if something comes up.” That’s known as a break/fix model of IT support, where the customer controls service delivery. We made the shift to a Managed Service model, where our focus is on anticipating and understanding an organizations’ business needs. The Managed Service model results in an improved outcome for your business, since the management and delivery of technology is completely outsourced.
As the general sense of urgency increased, the need to be proactive versus reactive became a priority.
Q: Let’s talk about a client who was helped by Cards Technology’s proven process.
SC: We created the process because we noticed that other IT providers would jump in to deliver service without first conducting a thorough overview. This would lead to the discovery of problems later on, which got very expensive and hurt the customer’s business. A clear assessment and proper standardization in the beginning is key.
Recently, we were approached by a client in the healthcare industry who had a time and materials IT company but not a managed service provider. We typically find that clients who haven't worked with an MSP are handling IT problems on their own and telling the provider what to do, instead of the other way around. This client was inviting security breaches in and experiencing other technology issues because no one was looking out for them. We performed a complete assessment from top to bottom and made sure that our unique set of standards were implemented for preventative monitoring. We stabilized the environment to prevent security threats and created a comprehensive plan for future IT needs.