Five questions to consider during an IT review

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Five questions to consider during an IT review

businessmeetingWhether your business’s network is managed internally or by an MSP, you should be conducting regular reviews of your IT team to ensure they’re meeting all agreed-upon expectations, and are consistently working to improve the systems they support. This will also enable you to maintain regular, open communication regarding any future or ongoing projects that will be implemented by your IT team. We conduct quarterly business reviews with all our customers, but you may prefer to meet every six months, or on an annual basis.

During this process, we strongly recommend that you make sure you know the answers to the following questions:

  1. Are SLAs consistently being met?

SLAs, or Service-Level Agreements, outline the contracted delivery time for a particular service or performance level. SLAs for MSPs may include initial response times to HelpDesk support requests, the timeframe within which a technician will begin working on an issue, and the duration of time it will take to resolve the problem.

If SLAs are not being met, this is almost always indicative of a larger problem. Either they were unreasonable to begin with (expecting all issues to be resolved within two hours, for example, is highly unrealistic for any large-scale or complex problems), your IT team’s quality of service is dropping, or there is a lack of employee resources available to tackle the existing problems.

An MSP is in charge of their own hiring process, and should always ensure they have enough technicians to keep up with their workload. In the case of internal IT, however, recent struggles to meet SLAs may indicate the need to hire another team member, or consider balancing the work between internal IT and an MSP.

  1. Do you know when your last backup was completed? Is your IT team conducting regular, successful backups of all systems?

Consistently backing up all data to a secure, off-site location is crucial to your business’s survival. According to the US Bureau of Labor, 93 percent of companies that suffer a significant loss of data are out of business within five years. After a situation such as fire, natural disaster, or even system infection by ransomware like Cryptowall, your data needs to be fully intact and recoverable. If your IT team isn’t conducting regular backups, or the backups are failing, you’re just one bad day away from going out of business.

  1. Is your IT team consistently reviewing the software and hardware it uses to ensure you have best-fit, up-to-date options in place?

Technology is a rapidly evolving sector. Products that were top of the line five years ago are now considered out of date, and products from ten years ago are no longer being supported by the companies that created them. We recently wrote a blog post on the best time to purchase new computers, but workstations aren’t the only hardware in your system that may eventually need an upgrade.

Your IT team should be monitoring servers, switches, wireless access points, BDRs, UPSs, and any other network-connected devices to determine if they’re nearing end of life and if they are experiencing performance or other issues that may indicate they will soon fail. They should also proactively keep themselves informed of new hardware releases so that they can identify the best replacement or learn of hardware with additional functionality that may serve you better than the current systems you have in place.

This same review process should also be enacted for any line-of-business applications on which your business relies. Your IT team should be aware of more recent versions, software patches, and entirely new programs that could give you functions you were previously unable to utilize.

  1. Can your IT team tell you what proactive work it’s doing?

In addition to reviewing the hardware and software used by your company, your IT team should also consider larger-scale network upgrades if your company is growing, keep informed of current infection threats and the best protection against them, and monitor the network for connectivity issues, system failures, and issues such as failed backups. If you’ve hired an MSP that isn’t working proactively to ensure your technology is functioning at its best, then they’re only conducting break-fix operations and can’t be considered a true MSP.

  1. Is there consistent communication between you and your IT team?

This is the most important question to ask yourself. Your IT team will need a degree of autonomy to function at its best, but you should still be kept informed of any major issues, the progress of current projects, and any future network changes they may be considering.

There should always be open lines of communication between you and your IT team, whether they’re an MSP or an internal department within your company. Regular meetings and reviews are a good way to initiate communication, but if you don’t feel that you can bring questions or concerns to your IT team at any time, it may be time to take a closer look at your working relationship, and determine just how well it actually is working.