Breaking Old Habits Turning your IT philosophy from “reactive” to “proactive”

What is Mother Nature up to now?  That was the looming thought on all of our minds as we anxiously tuned in to the frequent updates on Hurricane Sandy.  Quick run to the market to get milk and bread.  Quick run to the basement and elevate anything off the floor that can get water-logged.  Quick prepare your office by shutting down your network and alerting your clients of a potential power outage.  Wait – hold on – while I am confident you ran to the market and prepared your home, how about your office?  Did you take care of that too?

So many of our clients are under the false impression that “it won’t happen to me.”  Yes it can and will if you don’t take action!  Too many business owners are comfortable with the way they’ve always run their office including their IT.  It is hard to break the “reactive model” of IT, calling your IT provider only when something breaks.  This can lead to costly downtime.  I encourage you to consider breaking that habit and adopting a more “proactive” approach to your IT, allowing an IT provider to monitor and maintain your network to stave off a potential network headache.  Hopefully after you’ve read this article you will have a change of heart.

Let’s talk about Managed Services.  Managed Services means the IT service provider proactively monitors and maintains your server(s), workstations and network 24 x 7 x 365.  Think of Managed Services like an Alarm system, it is always on the alert watching and guarding your network against predators!   Typically the client and managed service provider (MSP) enter into a predictable monthly contract for a flat fee with a detailed list outlining parameters of the program.

So why should you change your mind-set?  Here are 3 key factors:

1.  Network Monitoring = Peace-of-mind:  Unless you have an IT person on staff, you do not have the time to worry about updating software and monitoring how much hard disk space you have left on your server and workstations.  Gee – we barely have enough time in the day to fit in a short break let alone spending hours updating your network.  Why add more stress to your day?  Let a MSP add back several hours of productivity to your week by taking care of your network for you!

2.  Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Do you remember when Y2K loomed over our heads?   There was quite a bit of hustle and bustle around making sure our businesses would not close on January 1st!  For many SMB’s that is the last time they planned for potential disaster!  From Hurricane Irene and Sandy to the Blizzard of 2012 – Nemo, our state has pulled through the devastation but many small businesses did not.  An MSP helps you coordinate an “action list” of items to ensure your business, employees and clients are safe.  Items include properly storing your data and shutting down your network, how your employees can stay productive even when an office is unreachable,  who the key contact personnel are should disaster occur, and so much more…

A disaster recovery plan is an extension of your Business Continuity plan but includes data retrieval. Most businesses can work from anywhere just as long as their data is attainable.

3.  Put up your shield against hackers!  Implement Email and Network Security:  Time and again we are hearing about data breaches thanks to hackers or even human error.  Having spam filtering installed on your network is more crucial now thanks to the sophistication of hackers.  Where networking monitoring is like an Alarm System, Spam filtering is like a gatekeeper scanning every email for viruses before they enter your network.

Every day, new viruses are introduced to by savvy hackers seeking ways to monitor your actions or steal your data.  Spam filtering protects against those viruses that are already “known.”  It does happen that new viruses sneak through the security gates unwittingly.  This is why it is important to have an MSP monitor any updates or license renewals for your spam-filtering and other security programs to ensure that they are monitoring against the latest threats.

Another great component to spam filtering is its important role in your disaster recovery plan.  Should your organization experience a power-outage or server crash, for example, spam filtering programs offer an alternative “emergency website” to access to view/send/receive email.  The ability to stay connected is crucial to ensure business continuity and mitigate any lost revenues to due to downtime.

I know from experience running a small business myself, changing your thought-process is hard, especially when dealing with how you run your business.   Thanks to the demands for sharing information and the key role technology plays in ensuring this flow is seamless, I urge you to take some time to consult with your IT consultant about the many benefits of managed services and how it will improve your business.  Get rid of the notion “It is how we’ve always done it!”  There is no room for “reactive” thinking.  Your business cannot afford it…

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