I’d like to tell you about a Community IT client I have worked with for almost as long as I have worked at Community IT. Once or twice a week, for almost ten years, I have made four hour site visits to this downtown Silver Spring office to: – check-in with end users – solve computer problems – discuss IT budget and planning with the Executive Director – monitor server free disk space – monitor the network’s antivirus management console – and much, much more
We recently started a new chapter in this client’s relationship with me and with Community IT. They joined the vast majority of our clients in a managed services agreement.
What is a Managed Services Agreement?
On a practical level, what this means is that, initially anyway, I’ll only be visiting my client twice a month. This is half as many visits as I’ve been making for the last number of years. We’ll be installing our Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) agents on all computers and servers. The additional costs associated with the agents will be outweighed by the savings realized by having less onsite time. The challenge is to provide the same experience of Community IT’s service with less on-site time.
The RMM agents allow Community IT to efficiently manage the health of the device by:
- maintaining inventory tracking
- monitoring server free disk space and proactively warning if disk capacity becomes dangerously low
- automatically applying approved Microsoft and third-party patches.
These agents provide our remote help desk staff up-to-the-minute information on problematic computers and allow us to fix problems remotely, in ways that don’t even interrupt the end user.
The integrated antivirus solution means I no longer have to logon to my client’s servers to assess an infection; the antivirus status of my client’s computers is available in the same console as the several thousand other computers with Community IT’s managed AV solution, monitored efficiently by a single technician.
More Efficient Support
It is the promise of efficiency that has brought both Community IT and my client to this place. The basic tasks involved in maintaining a network may not change much, but the way it gets done changes a lot. If there is a problem that can’t wait for my next visit, the end user calls our help desk who has the tools needed to solve the problem, remotely more often than not. Sometimes a dispatch is required, but our experience is that the savings of less regular site visits more than offsets the cost of helpdesk time and the occasional dispatch.
Of course, less regular site visits are really only advisable in a managed service agreement environment. The network has to be running really well. Our tools help with that, but so does the proactive planning and maintenance that Community IT has always sought to bring to its client relationships.
Still Working Hard While Working Smarter
I should add that I won’t be less busy. Community IT benefits because I have more time to spend on other work that can be of greater value to the company and/or its clients. Our clients benefit from gains in efficiency, but we do as well.
I’ll miss my weekly visit. As a project manager my opportunities to get into the trenches and do technical work are less common than they used to be, so I enjoy the chance to be a recurring engineer. But I’ll still be there twice a month and I’ll really appreciate being able to do things more easily through our RMM system. And in the end, Community IT will still be my client’s “IT Partner” and I’ll still be a major part of that. I don’t think the important things will really change.