Why Advice is the most important element of an IT Support service

If you’re in the market for an IT service provider, you’ll hear time and time again from eager salespeople that a reactive service isn’t enough. That taking a proactive approach is key for good service from your IT provider.This is true for many reasons – effective proactive work reduces reactive requests or things going wrong in your IT environment. Being ahead of the game means reactive tasks shouldn’t happen in the first place, which is what we all want.In this article we will explain why the most vital aspect of a proactive IT support service is effective, informed, and succinct advice. If the advice you currently get doesn’t consistently provide actionable insight or contribute to your business strategy, this article is for you.

Let’s dive in and understand how advice can improve your business, review examples of information that can contribute towards this, and understand how to distil it all into actionable insight to help you make quick, informed decisions.

Many preventative measures can be taken by a support service, such as keeping devices and core applications up to date with security patches; setting up proactive alerts on critical infrastructure to detect problems in advance of end users; and keeping tabs on service request categories and previously closed tickets to spot patterns and eliminate root causes. These are all essential qualities of an effective proactive service strategy, and a trustworthy service provider. However, the most crucial service is providing clients with sound guidance they can put into practice immediately.

“A true partner is your biggest fan and harshest critic”

You don’t want a ‘yes man’ or a ‘no news is good news’ type provider; they won’t add value to your business. An IT Manager is responsible for all areas of a company’s IT environment, it’s their duty to constantly assess opportunities for improvement. This should be no different when you have an IT Provider in place, their responsibilities are the same. You should therefore expect them to be bringing actionable improvements to you regularly. You should get advice across all areas of ‘IT’, including infrastructure, devices, integrations, cyber security, improving productivity, and reducing operational tasks through automation. Sometimes advice is simply proving to you that what’s in place is working, that there are no issues, so you can stop worrying.

Limiting your visibility to only service performance, technical assets, or physical network systems isn’t going to cut it. You need to have someone diving deeper to try and improve the experience your employees are having, looking into the types of requests being raised, where time is being spent and lost. This should all be reviewed holistically, identifying trends across all this information that contribute to a plan that adds real value. 

However, none of this information can add real value without understanding how your business operates and your long-term/short-term goals and plans. This context can significantly change the advice being given. It ensures you future-proof your investments, preventing short-term changes that are redundant the next year, leading to wasted investment and unnecessary disruption. 

For example:

  1. If we receive hard drive storage alerts, service requests for slow machines, and asset lists showing devices nearing warranty expiration, we could recommend a device replacement plan in the coming months. However, mix this with the knowledge that your main CRM will be moving to the cloud in 6 months, reducing the load on employees’ devices, and that the company plans to standardize all devices by 2024 – our recommendation changes. Instead suggesting warranty extensions and review of the worst effected devices for short term improvement measures, then start planning the standardization project to benefit from better pricing by ordering in bulk ahead of time.
  2. If we see a lot of requests for new starters and staff turnover requiring leavers to be securely removed and devices passed on, we should discuss growth plans for the next few years. If growth is expected we could start discussing automating the new starter and leaver processes could improve reliability, employee experience, and cut installation costs.

I know what you’re thinking, this is a lot of data to process, so you’ll want it presented in a way that’s easy to understand and use. It’s useless to sift through reports, evaluations, and other text-heavy documents to find the information you need to make informed decisions.

At Sereno, we use one platform with everything you need to know about your IT environment in one place – covering:

  • Real-time support service metrics with insight into our performance and your employees’ satisfaction.
  • A technology health assessment by an engineer repeated every quarter for top-level insight.
  • A simple scoring system to identify areas of improvement against best practices.
  • An operations section with all reports in one place, including security, licensing, assets, etc.

This gives you complete insight and visibility into your entire IT infrastructure. Most importantly, we will review the entire platform before each quarterly meeting, breaking it down and documenting all actionable insights. This then ensures you know what you need to know, to make quick informed decisions, without spending ages reviewing reports or looking at irrelevant information.

By including this level of service as our standard offering, we guarantee our clients have instant access to any data they need to operate and grow their business. Our aim is that you never need to question what needs to be done, or what can be done, to improve your IT environment and employees experience. We lead the conversation and provide the solutions. True partnership.

Improving productivity, reducing cyber risk, improving employee satisfaction, reducing downtime, improving your service to clients, and effectively managing operating costs are all benefits you should see from proactive advice.

Here is an excellent example of how various information, business understanding, and knowledge of technology can lead to informed decision-making that improves productivity, security, and cost-saving.

Information we took to the meeting from reports and data for that quarter:

  • We noticed a high number of service tickets being raised around password confusion, forgetting passwords, and people being locked out of devices, emails, and the core CRM system.
  • A software report showed that WeTransfer, OneDrive, and GoogleDrives were being used to share and collaborate on files with clients.
  • Server asset reporting showed it was approaching the end of the warranty and recommended lifecycle.
  • Server status reporting showed hard drives were at 85% capacity.
  • Backup costs are increasing due to increased data size and regulatory compliance requirements to keep this for seven years.
  • The server is being used for file sharing, but mainly for hosting their CRM system and database.

Information we knew from a strategy meeting earlier that year:

  • They want to look at reducing capital expenditure as monthly operating expenses are easier for them to balance.
  • They’re interested in moving to the cloud for most systems to support more flexible working and reduce maintenance costs.
  • They have six separate business apps and systems in use now; managing the setup and passwords for these is becoming an issue with leavers and new starters.
  • Their clients now require more due diligence on cyber security, which is complex for them.

Our suggestions and solutions:

  • Review cloud options for the CRM to move this off the server.
  • Migrate all your files to SharePoint, which is a Microsoft license you already have and pay for, for your primary file-sharing system.
  • Setup Sharepoint for secure external file sharing
  • Use Microsoft 365 for centralised management – so all devices and applications (including email and all five other apps) use the same login details, creating a Same Sign-on environment.
  • Use Microsoft’s centralised management to improve security around data (now it’s all in or linked to Microsoft) and device management.

The resulting benefits: 

  • Simple and low monthly license costs with Microsoft, only a £9 increase per person per month.
  • No need to replace the server every 3-4 years (£25k project), extend warranties, or worry about hard drive space ever being an issue again.
  • Removing backup requirements and high monthly costs.
  • This allows for secure sharing of files externally, so other uncontrolled apps are not being used.
  • Remove the administration and security risk of multiple passwords to multiple systems—they are now all linked to the one Microsoft login, which can be secured with Two-factor Authentication at no extra cost.
  • Remove the frustration seen with password issues in service tickets.
  • Speed up the onboarding of new staff on business systems and the removal of access for leavers.
  • Set simple security controls within Microsoft to improve data security.
  • Use Microsoft to enforce device security improvements.
  • Data is always available, at any time, from any device, securely.

Something many IT Support providers fail to understand is that spending time collating well-supported suggestions for improvement is mutually beneficial. By helping our partners reduce the risk to their business, improve the reliability of systems, and remove recurring issues, we are in turn reducing the likelihood of reactive support requests coming to us. More importantly, it means our partners’ experience of their technology and our service is great. This requires a certain level of operational maturity, to invest in the right people and tools to provide this advice, instead of falling back on lower-level reactive engineers to battle with the incoming demand on the service desk.

If the advice you are currently getting doesn’t provide actionable insight on a regular basis, isn’t feeding into your wider business strategy, or your simply not getting advice to start with, then please contact Sereno on and chat with one of our knowledgeable advisors on how we can help.

No commitment, no hard sell, just honest advice

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