6 Ways IT Providers Help Improve The Efficiency Of Your Business
Most business leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency. Whether that means tightening up lead times, streamlining manufacturing processes, establishing standard operating procedures, or any number of other initiatives, business leaders recognize that efficiencies lead to improved financial results.
One area where businesses don’t always look for efficiencies is in their IT. I’ve worked in IT for 24 years and have seen first-hand how IT providers can help organizations like yours capitalize on efficiencies to save their business time and money.
You may be thinking that I’m just trying to sell you on working with an outside IT provider because it’s good for my business. The truth is, I know that managed IT isn’t right for every organization. And while I’d love to have the opportunity to see if we are a good fit for each other, I know (before we ever even speak), that it might not be the case.
So, why am I writing this article? At Kelser, we understand the importance of being transparent. We want to provide the information you need to make the best decision for your business when it comes to IT.
How Can IT Providers Help Improve The Efficiency Of Your Business?
IT providers can not only help improve the efficiency of your technology but also can recommend technology solutions that improve the efficiency of your processes. Let’s explore the ways that can happen.
1. Understanding Your Business & Goals
When you decide to work with an outside IT provider make sure you find one that spends the time to really get to know your business and how you work.
You may wonder why this is important; isn’t their technical know-how most important? Technical knowledge IS important, but if a provider doesn’t take the time to understand your business how can you be sure their solution is the best fit for your specific needs?
Anyone can come in and put in place a cookie-cutter solution, but what is right for one business isn’t necessarily the solution that positions your business for short- and long-term success.
Understanding an organization’s business model and how it operates allows an IT provider to be able to look forward and make recommendations based on improving productivity.
For example, maybe the way you are sharing documents is not efficient.
Rather than emailing documents back and forth, there are cloud-based solutions to this problem that will allow multiple people to work on the same document simultaneously without having to keep track of which version is the latest.
Because it is cloud-based, everyone can access the document no matter where they are located, and logging in to your on-premise systems is not required.
IT providers see the big picture and can recommend solutions that get away from the traditional on-premise drive shares sitting in a server that everyone has to access.
Some of these files can be really large and sending them via email taxes the bandwidth of your network. By housing them in the cloud they can be accessed quickly, easily, and safely from anywhere yielding large-scale efficiencies.
This is just one example of how IT providers can recommend ways to streamline operational processes as well as technology.
By understanding your business and goals, the right IT provider will partner with you to build the infrastructure you need to succeed.
2. Monitoring & Managing
Part of the service an IT provider offers is to monitor, patch and install updates on all of the equipment (servers, networks, devices, etc.) that work in tandem to keep your infrastructure available, efficient, and secure.
Can you do this on your own? Sure, if you have a full complement of IT professionals on staff, but that is a luxury and expense many small and medium businesses can’t afford.
Unless someone is monitoring your gear, you may not know when a power supply fails in a server, or a network switch is having port problems. You’ll eventually find out when you start getting complaints and at that point, it’s too late and you are in crisis.
The whole idea of working with an outside IT provider is to stay ahead of problems. In today’s fast-paced business environment, avoiding downtime is more important than ever. By monitoring and managing your infrastructure your business operates at peak efficiency and avoids the cost and inconvenience of downtime.
Working with an IT provider also ensures that you stay ahead of the constantly changing landscape of security. Many IT providers have a dedicated cybersecurity expert on staff or, at a minimum, someone who tracks trends and developments to ensure that the team knows the latest threats.
IT providers understand that what was good enough for a firewall five years ago is no longer enough to keep an organization's network edge safe. A good provider will not only insist that your firewall be updated but will explain why a next-generation firewall is the industry standard today.
Here are just a few reasons organizations need to upgrade to next-generation firewalls:
- more capacity for connecting remote workers to a virtual private network (VPN)
- cloud-based applications and backup
- voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems
An IT provider can help you evaluate the gear you have in place and, to the greatest extent possible, future proof your business against risk from security, performance, or failure issues.
Some providers even offer customers the services of a virtual chief information officer (vCIO) who provides a look “around corners” to prevent technology surprises and help you plan for the future.
The most effective IT providers do their best to ensure that your data is backed up, so your business can quickly be restored in the event of a cybersecurity incident.
Before problems arise, an IT provider can provide advice about the state of your current infrastructure and elements that might need to be replaced to support your business or save you money.
An IT provider will do a utilization check.
For example, say you have servers that are operating at 90 percent utilization. If the provider understands that you plan to add a significant number of employees to your staff or a new location or a new application that will demand more compute, storage, or bandwidth capacity.
By understanding the state of your infrastructure and your business goals, your IT partner can help you prepare for what’s next before you get caught in a logjam and your infrastructure is overwhelmed. Maybe that means adding to your farm or moving your data to the cloud.
This foresight helps avoid downtime and ensures that you have what you need in place to ensure success in the future.
On the other hand, you may have gear that’s only operating at 5 percent utilization. Maybe it makes sense to move those workloads to another server, so you can shutter the low-use one and save on utilities and support costs. An IT provider has the tools to evaluate what you have and knows how to interpret things to recommend the best solutions for your organization.
And, when you need advice about the right tools for the job, your IT provider will do the legwork for you and track down the best and most efficient solution for your organization.
For example, maybe some of your employees need to be onsite visiting customers frequently. Carrying a laptop might not be the most efficient way for them to take notes or fill out forms or perform other tasks. So maybe they need a tablet to use in tandem with their laptop for a better solution. IT providers look at ways to make your employees more productive.
At Kelser, we’ve implemented this solution for some of our construction clients, so they can have access to plans and information while they are walking around a job site.
Maybe the right solution for you is to use a cell phone on the road. We’ve seen this work for our insurance customers.
At one time, insurance adjusters would go to a house, climb up on a ladder and take pictures of roof damage with a digital camera. Now with the use of drones and the high-quality camera capability of smartphones, they can easily take pictures of the damage and immediately upload them to the company’s database, improving the efficiency of the entire claims process.
There is so much more functionality available in devices. IT providers have a broad view of the changes being made in technology advances and the knowledge to put the latest options to work for customers to optimize efficiency.
Hand in hand with advising is budgeting. Nobody likes surprises. When an IT provider makes a recommendation for updating your gear, they also work with you to budget for the expense.
Cost is always a consideration, so it’s best to be prepared for pending expenses.
We all know it’s important to keep your car in prime operating order or it will break down at the least convenient moment.
The same is true for your IT infrastructure. It is complex and routine maintenance ensures its longevity, but when the time comes to upgrade it’s always better to go in with your eyes wide open.
In the same way that most people now know the MSRP of the vehicle they are about to purchase before visiting the dealership, knowing what to expect is always a more comfortable way to approach a significant investment.
6. Process Improvements
As we alluded to earlier, IT providers provide a broad view of your technology and business processes.
For example, maybe the way you are sharing prints and documents in your machining process isn’t efficient. Rather than people wasting a lot of time going to multiple systems to pull down drawings or plans, an IT provider can offer other solutions that will yield not only time savings, but cost savings as well.
Could Working With An IT Provider Help Your Business Improve Efficiency?
Only you can decide whether working with an IT provider would help your business improve efficiency. After reading this article, you have all the information you need to make this important decision.
You now know that IT providers offer solutions that can make your technology and your processes more efficient by knowing your business and your goals, monitoring and maintaining equipment, enhancing security, advising about technology solutions, budgeting for upcoming improvements, and offering process improvement recommendations.
The root of an effective partnership with an IT provider is that they stay current on technology improvements, offering you opportunities to improve efficiencies so you can stay focused on running your business.
At Kelser, we offer customers a full complement of managed IT services. We know this solution isn’t right for everyone, but it may help your business. Read this article to find out what that might look like: How Much Does Managed IT Cost? What’s Usually Included?