How Technology Reviews Benefit Your Business
Technology reviews, in which your organization’s dedicated representative meets with its managed services provider (MSP) counterpart, are an important step in ensuring your firm’s operations continue running smoothly, securely and cost efficiently. Small- and medium-size businesses rely upon their systems and networks to power their operations, and unlike larger enterprise organizations, SMBs typically don’t have the luxury of larger in-house IT staffs and the accompanying budgets. SMBs, instead, must moderate their technology spend while ensuring they maximize the results of their investments, and that’s where a technology review pays dividends.
These free guidance sessions, sometimes held quarterly and referred to as a QBR (for Quarterly Business Review), provide businesses with an opportunity to discuss questions, concerns, issues, challenges, business model adjustments and market changes. Technology reviews should not be simple occasions in which an MSP reviews its performance, brags about myriad computer-generated success metrics or upsells new products and services. No, technology reviews should serve the client’s interests by transparently focusing on the best methods of optimizing technology investments and eliminating any technical issues.
Technology reviews can be as formal or relaxed as an organization wishes. Maybe it’s a regular lunch at a favorite eatery in which two stakeholders—one company and one MSP representative—gather for a meal and review the previous quarter’s challenges, while planning adjustments. Or, depending upon your organization’s culture, potentially the meeting is a more structured conference held with additional directors and a documented agenda.
WHAT TO CONSIDER DURING YOUR REVIEW
In truth, most technology reviews operate somewhere within the middle of those two extremes. Often a handful of company contacts and an MSP manager and technician meeting together with a basic agenda and no distractions proves most effective. As long as your organization and MSP adjust the meeting’s tenor to match your firm’s needs and temperament, such occasions should prove fruitful. That said, several elements should always be considered during technology reviews:
- Previous goals
- Service satisfaction
- Tickets-per-technology trends
- Productivity improvement opportunities
- New goals
Reviewing goals set during the previous technology review is a smart first step. Discussing efforts previously undertaken to address problems or opportunities identified in the last session ensure stakeholders remain accountable and initiatives receive the attention required.
Identify and resolve any service issues, including response times, service-level agreement (SLA) concerns and quality challenges, next. Neither your company nor MSPs should assume everyone is happy just because tickets are being closed and no difficult conversations have recently occurred. Touching base and asking outright whether the technology services being delivered and the support workflows in place are meeting everyone’s expectations is the best method of preventing any small issues from festering and becoming bigger problems.
Tickets-per-technology trends deserves attention, too. Just what does that phrase mean? The concept refers to how many problems your company is reporting regarding a specific technology, such as an old accounting platform or a cloud-based ERP platform. If any one technology is generating an abnormal number of support requests, that’s an indication something’s wrong. The two parties should explore the nature of those tickets and determine whether an older technology is due for replacement or a newer solution requires tweaks or adjustments to better meet the organization’s purposes.
PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Identifying productivity improvement opportunities is another way forward-thinking MSPs can assist clients. For example, a Louisville Geek client was losing some 40 hours a month manually collecting and processing information from multiple financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements, from a variety of sources, including their QuickBooks accounting platform, ADP payroll software and Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution. Upon learning of this challenge, a Louisville Geek technician recommended the client use Microsoft Power BI (a program for which their Microsoft 365 subscription already provided access) to automate the data collection and corresponding report production, saving more than 100 hours of labor each quarter.
With cyberattack risks elevated following Russia’s Ukraine invasion, periodically reviewing your organization’s threat surfaces is an important and recommended step in maintaining protection against continually evolving threats and vulnerabilities. Your organization should work with its technology provider to perform a fresh risk assessment, which can be incorporated within a technology review. This element is especially important if you operate a business that is subject to data regulation, as is true within Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) environments. During a regular technology review is a convenient occasion to pinpoint any new noncompliant IT practices or solutions and, subsequently, customize a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity and availability of your data. A technology review can also serve as a reminder to review your disaster recovery and incident response plans to ensure they remain current, especially as malicious actors are increasingly compromising, corrupting and holding backups subject to ransom payments.
Exploring corresponding expenses is another important component of an effective technology review. Louisville Geek knows from experience that regularly auditing software licenses and subscriptions can surface recurring savings, as happened when the consultancy explored one customer’s Microsoft 365 account and confirmed the customer could save thousands of dollars a year by eliminating licenses in place for employees who were no longer working for the client. Additional savings were identified when the MSP determined less expensive license packages could meet the needs of several other employees. These expense reductions add up quickly, especially considering Microsoft 365 pricing changed for 2022. Because technology is constantly evolving, opportunities for reducing costs often arise, but you have to remember to look for those opportunities, and a technology review provides just the occasion.
Current, recently completed and potential new IT projects are another natural topic. Lessons learned from past initiatives can be applied to ongoing maintenance and support efforts as well as any prospective ventures. While comprehensive project postmortems and updates deserve their own dedicated meeting, confirming any active projects remain on track during a technology review is yet another opportunity to ensure both your company and its technology provider remain on the same page.
Last, any action items, follow ups and delegated responsibilities should be formalized during a technology review in the form of specific goals. Each goal should prove measurable and possess a dedicated owner. With such elements in place, the next time the stakeholders meet to review the status of technology services and support, a record exists on which the participants can follow up to ensure any corrective or required actions were taken and their impact can be measured and, if required, further adjustments can be made.
Louisville Geek encourages both clients and organizations having technology questions to schedule such a free technology review. Our experienced team of technicians, engineers and project managers can, similar to a financial review, take a comprehensive look at your firm’s IT investments, evaluate your technology’s status and performance and provide recommendations, should any changes or improvements prove warranted.