Let’s get straight to the point. Outsourced IT Managed Service Providers (also known as MSPs) are a commodity, right? Nope. Yes? Then again, no. Wait, maybe? What does an MSP do again?
Truth be told, the market is saturated with MSPs. From global hardware manufacturers to local print copy suppliers all claiming to also provide technology services, the concept of MSPs has practically become dark matter – a hypothetical form of energy professing to drive business value. The built-in automation of service delivery tools and the wizardry of cloud services have obscured the complexities of IT Service Management (ITSM). What used to take trained application and system engineers to design, implement and manage, can now be completed with a few clicks by the office manager.
Don’t get us wrong – these are all great things. Bringing aspects of IT functions to a level of automation is part of the maturation of an evolving IT service industry, and one that can benefit businesses. But this also implies a boilerplate approach to IT solutions. This one-size-fits all approach ends up revealing that most businesses still desire a calculated tailored personal approach to ITSM.
enPower’s IT Management framework is multi-dimensional, taking technology services to the next level. This framework is the customized implementation of systematic processes coupled with IT service delivery tools, defined by governance policies, monitored, measured and re-tooled to ensure reliability and quality of IT systems and technical support. Essentially, the value of our framework is determined by function plus quality. The function defines the type of services being offered, while quality is determined by our ability to execute around the business directives of each client.
Understanding and defining ITSM services can be elusive. We have discovered four principles that guide us through the confusion that we like to refer to as The Basics.
IT Management: The Basics
There are a lot of bad actors in today’s world who are profiling and performing nefarious activities directed at individuals and businesses. Unfortunately, most businesses are operating below the “security poverty line”. Maybe it is the lack of resources, maybe it is not having enough time or maybe it is simply not knowing where to start.
The first principle in The Basics is to Prevent and Defend. After performing a simple threat analysis, Prevent and Defend includes the implementation, configuration and, in some cases, the redesign of key elements to protect against bad activities. Endpoint protection, Internet filtering, intrusion prevention, network segmentation and security awareness training are all examples of these key elements.
Padre always said having the right tools is the key to every successful job. However, rummaging through the tools hanging around the shop makes us think this is only part of the equation. The right tools must also be properly configured, implemented and in the right hands to produce a masterpiece. For businesses, this can increase IT systems reliability, consistency and employee productivity.
After performing a preliminary hardware, software and resource discovery, Equip and Implement includes building obsolescence plans, systems and application optimizations, configuration enhancements and end user training.
What’s the plan, Stan? It is hard to believe any of us would build a house without a blueprint, a budget and a skilled workforce. Performing and managing IT Operations without a plan and desired outcomes is just as silly.
The third principle in The Basics is to Operate and Maintain. Based off the enduring guidelines of ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), Operate and Maintain is the combined focus of defining and adhering to technical support processes and procedures, while performing application and system patching and routine maintenance.
Set it and forget it. Ouch! Each of us understands intuitively that this approach is not effective. So why are so many folks still using this method with their IT teams and systems? Why are so many systems and applications missing critical security patches? Why do so many data backup systems fail to restore critical data? How does a crypto infection run for hours before anyone notices?
The last principle in The Basics is to Monitor and Measure. Monitor is being engaged in the activities, performance and alerts of IT applications and systems with the skills to filter out the white noise in order to be nimble enough to respond timely and appropriately.
Measuring is the discipline of accountability, resulting in continuous improvement. Measuring provides visibility into performance metrics and potentially chronic issues. These observations are reviewed, documented and then submitted for change recommendations. Change recommendations often include hardware, software upgrades, configuration enhancements or process and procedural adjustments.