Most businesses feel overwhelmed by the constant need to upgrade their hardware and software. They need to protect data, guard against security risks, and train staff on sophisticated new systems.
A large company would have a chief information officer (CIO) to oversee all this. But companies of any size can outsource the CIO job to a managed IT services provider.
Managed IT is like having a virtual chief information officer. We call it a vCIO.
Quality managed IT services are proactive, not just reactive. They’re customized to meet each client’s specific needs. Having a vCIO on your side can:
- Increase your responsiveness to users and customers.
- Minimize downtime by ensuring systems are working and reliable.
- Boost efficiency and productivity by improving workflows.
- Save money through a predictable monthly support program.
What are Managed IT Services?
Understanding how all your company’s computers and software work together (or work at all) is a specialized task. It usually feels overwhelming to the non-technical. It’s hard enough syncing your phone, laptop, and cloud storage.
But a company’s IT infrastructure of servers, devices, applications is a complex set of interlocking systems. It requires constant maintenance and upgrades to meet evolving needs and challenges.
However, a managed IT services provider (or vCIO) can take care of all those computer maintenance tasks you don’t have the time or skills for. Or that you just don’t want to do.
Managed services are like a high-level IT department on demand — but without the overhead of a large staff or expensive brand-certified system administrator.
A vCIO should provide both site visits and remote support so that you can get support around the clock. After all, a data breach or ransomware attack could happen at any time.
vCIO: Not Just a Technology Expert
To be successful, a managed IT services provider needs to understand more than technology. The vCIO must understand how to develop excellent relationships throughout the IT industry.
That includes application vendors, internet service providers, email hosting IT companies, senior management, HR departments, phone vendors, firewall manufacturers, onsite IT support staff, remote support staff, video conference suppliers, disaster planners and accounting departments — to name a few.
Developing trusted partnerships requires more than a quick introductory phone call, however. It means consistent email communication, conference calls, and site visits. Vendors need to feel comfortable presenting new products and solutions for the vCIO to propose to clients.
In short, the vCIO is an IT services hub. It keeps everyone connected and working together to support the client organization.
What Does the vCIO Actually Do?
A managed IT services provider is much more than a ‘geek squad’ that drops in to fix your computer.
A good vCIO will take a proactive approach to managing your technology, not just fixing it once it’s broken. A vCIO should also provide a range of related services, including:
Assessment and Acquisition
Which technology does your business use today, and what are its strengths and weaknesses? Are legacy systems creating bottlenecks that slow you down or decrease productivity? What new systems will your company need in the future?
Whether cleaning up an old directory structure or understanding how much bandwidth your apps use, start by looking at your resources and how you use them.
A vCIO should look at all of them, and report on what’s working and what could work better. Something as simple as replacing 10/100 switches with gigabit switches or adding a firewall for traffic shaping could make a huge difference to improve productivity and the end user experience.
Strategic Planning and Budgeting
Your vCIO should consider not just present improvements, but future needs. Upgrades and new implementations could require longer-term planning and budgeting.
You most likely have a wish list already. It could include upgrading all your desktop computers to the latest operating system. Or adding a collaboration platform like Teams to your Office 365 environment, or moving your company’s disaster recovery and backup systems to the cloud. As technology and your business evolve, there will always be items to add to the list.
It’s impossible to overstress the importance of cybersecurity. Whether it’s malware, ransomware, phishing, or a direct hack, nothing hurts productivity more than a security vulnerability that takes your network down and compromises your data.
Your vCIO should work with you on both preventive measures and a Disaster Recovery Plan. The vCIO’s good industry relationships can prove especially valuable in restoring operations and data after a cyberattack or other outage.
Policies and Procedures
Documented policies and procedures are critical to ensure your data is secure and employees at their most effective in operating your technology.
But it’s not just a matter of using the systems properly. You may also need to comply with government regulations or corporate governance rules. A vCIO should be able to guide you through the policy implications of your technology.
Head-Heart-Hands: The PC Professional Philosophy
We take a “head, heart, and hands” approach to managed IT services. That means we consider what you think about, what you really want, and what you do to get them.
Often our customers don’t realize they can have the first two by simply taking a step back to look at their systems and workflows. That’s one of the things we help you do.
Head. Our clients get a dedicated account manager and engineers. This enables us to understand clearly and deeply what they’re thinking about when it comes to IT needs and plans.
Heart. What do our customers feel passionate about? Understanding the “heart” factor has allowed us to truly have an impact and become a long-term trusted advisor. We take to heart what our clients care about, and put that into our solutions. We’re not just selling a service, but helping you create the impact you want to create. We want you to be a hero to your customers.
Hands. This is where managed IT services have the most visible impact. Sometimes we’re an extension of your staff, other times you may call us to handle a malware attack.
But it’s hard to implement forward-thinking solutions when you’re busy with daily minutae like setting up smartphones or dealing with breakdowns.
That’s why our motto at PC Professional is:
“Leave the technology to us so you can focus on your business.”
That is, focus on your head and heart, and let us take care of making it happen.
Here’s What Your vCIO Will Do
As your vCIO, we act as project manager to oversee your service level agreement. We handle the entire process of research, planning, deciding, guidance, implementation, and support. From start to finish, we’re the primary stakeholder in achieving success.
We prepare a detailed quarterly report that describes all services performed the previous quarter. It also includes he status of current initiatives, projects in discussion, and recommendations on moving forward.
We hope this introduction to managed IT services has shown how a vCIO can benefit your company. To schedule a consultation with PC Professional, just click here.