A couple months ago, we got a call from a new potential client.  For the purposes of this story, we’ll call them VeeCo.  VeeCo used to have an IT service provider, but they ended the relationship a couple years ago when they realized they could save money by having one of their computer-savvy phone technicians also take care of their computers.  During our meeting, VeeCo noted that they had renewed their antivirus subscriptions, but beyond that, they weren’t sure about the status of their backup systems, or whether their operating systems had been properly updated.  We told them that these were all things that an IT service provider could help them stay on top of, and provided them with a standard managed services proposal for their business.  They thanked us, told us they’d think about it – and then they went quiet.  Completely quiet.

It isn’t unusual for a company to meet with several vendors before selecting one, so we thought perhaps they had found another IT company. Still, when Microsoft sent a warning to their partners about a vulnerability with in-house Exchange (email) servers, we forwarded it to their technician as a courtesy, along with instructions on how to patch the vulnerability. 

They called us a few weeks days later, in a panic.  Their email server had gone down completely for more than 12-hours.  Could we help them get it back up and running?

When we got there and began troubleshooting, this is what we found:

In addition to the major vulnerability, which had not been patched, we found, and fixed an issue with their server.  It turned out there was no Anti-virus on the Email server; no reliable backup, and the server hadn’t been patched in two years.  It was clear that, even though the company had a technical person supporting their IT, the IT part of his job was just an afterthought.  It’s not his fault. He spends his days doing what he was hired (and paid) to do; but because of that, there were numerous essential maintenance tasks that had gone virtually ignored for two years. 

Had there been an actual IT person at this company or an IT Service Provider, there would have been someone monitoring their patches, the health of the servers, computers, and the antivirus software.  Most importantly, there would have been someone to act on that warning and install the patch before Microsoft’s problem became their problem.

The next day, we spoke with the company’s management.  They were interested retaining our services, but only on an “as needed” basis. “There’s no real value in a managed services relationship,” they told us.  “We don’t often have issues like the one we just had, so we’d rather not spend the money on all that other stuff.”

My response was “Absolutely not.” Their company didn’t have the interest and didn’t want to dedicate the resources to do regular maintenance on their IT so we wouldn’t receive these “hair on fire” calls when their technology went down.

I was reminded of something one of our business consultants said: “We want to be gardeners, not ambulance drivers”
IT Service Providers spend a great deal of time and resources servicing their clients to avoid incidents like the one I described above. Our goal is to never have an emergency call or have a computer go down so we do whatever we can to maintain our clients’ equipment to avoid driving that ambulance.

Your office manager can take care of your IT. They will need to spend hours a week being an IT Technician and not being what they were hired to be. Plus, hours more learning about new tools, new risks, new vulnerabilities, and how to remediate them. This doesn’t seem like an efficient use of their time or your resources.

If yours is a small or midsized company, IT support probably isn’t a full-time job, but to do it right, you need someone who does IT full time.