How To Outsource IT Support As A Managed Service: The Complete Guide

IT outsourcing support and services has become a standard strategy for Irish companies that want to streamline their business operations and take advantage of a more favourable cost structure. Much more than just tech support, a managed IT service looks after all of your business technology needs such as data backup solutions and business continuity planning.

However, even when a firm decides that they would be better off with external IT expertise, there is much to consider when deciding how to engage with an IT partner.

This page is dedicated to guide you through that process and help you to consider the important questions that may not be all that obvious when starting out.

Of course, if you have specific questions and want to talk to our team about IT support in Ireland, simply click the office below that is nearest to you.

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Contents

Click on one of the topics below to go to that section.

First of all, let's look at the different aspects of your ICT setup that you can outsource to an external IT services provider. A full IT managed service makes sense in some cases, whereas outsourcing just some of the elements below is preferred in others - the right option will depend on your own commercial situation. Our Irish IT support service covers each of the areas below:

  1. Managed Server
  2. Managed Desktop
  3. Managed Backup
  4. Managed Endpoint Security
  5. Managed Firewall
  6. Account Management

Once you have decided what you want to outsource, the next step is figuring out how to do it in a way that maximises the value for your organisation. The following sections will help you to think about the pertinent issues when choosing a supplier and an outsourcing strategy.

  1. Why Outsourcing IT Support Is The Ideal Strategy For Small And Medium Businesses
  2. Essential Questions To Ask Your IT Service Provider
  3. IT Strategy: Fundamentals
  4. The Two Key Areas Of Business IT Strategy
  5. Getting Your IT Budget Under Control
  6. Virtualisation
  7. How Cloud Computing Can Help Your Business

1. Managed Server

Our Managed Server solution provides your organisation with an external IT department designed to meet your specific needs and give you peace of mind.

The service is composed of our experienced people, best-practice processes and the latest technology all available for one fixed monthly fee.

Our standard Managed Server setup is based on the industry leading virtualisation solution with high availability and disaster recovery for critical business workloads.

Our Managed Server Solution Includes:

  • Recommended Practice Implementation
  • Patch Management
  • Monitoring and Proactive Management
  • Issue Resolution and Management Remote and On-Site
  • Disk-Space Monitoring and Alerting
  • Performance Monitoring

2. Managed Desktop

Our Managed Desktop solution ensures your users are secure and productive while at work - it's that simple!

Don't let the name fool you, Managed Desktop goes way beyond your traditional PC-style setup. We cover all devices that you use at work - laptops, tablets, smartphones and of course, desktop computers.

Using Windows, Mac OS X or a mix of both? Not a problem - all variants of operating system, device type and manufacturer are covered under our Managed Desktop support service.

We inherit full accountability for preventative maintenance and updates of your devices - avoiding costly downtime for your employees. This means one less thing for you to worry about, and ensures that your business realises the full value of your technology investment.

Managed Desktop Includes:

  • Recommended Practice Implementation
  • Patch Management for Operating System and Microsoft Products
  • Patch Management for Adobe and Java
  • Issue Resolution and Management - Remote and On-Site
  • Standard Software Installation
  • Desktop Lockdown
  • Asset Reporting
  • Mobile Devices Encryption
  • Automated Deployment
  • Licencing Management
  • Warranty Management
  • Scheduled Replacement
  • Remote Storage Controls

 

3. Managed Backup

Data and system backup is critical to all businesses. Most importantly, is the level of backup sufficient for your continued success if you have a catastrophic failure.

Based on your requirements, we will recommend a backup strategy, which if implemented, will provide you with a reliable backup and disaster recovery solution. Depending on your specific requirements, Brandon Global IT will design a solution to meet your business needs.

The following is list of what Brandon Global IT undertake on all “Total IT” Managed Backup & Disaster Recovery Services:

  • Backup of Key Systems to meet the Business Requirements
  • Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Annual Backups
  • Monitoring and Proactive Management
  • Issue Resolution and Management, Remote and On-Site
  • On-Site and Off-Site Coverage
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Backup Reporting
  • Scheduled Backup Testing
  • Scheduled Test Restores

For more information, check out our Complete Guide to Data Backup, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.

4. Managed Endpoint Security

Are you prepared for a cyberattack, or the aftermath of a successful breach?

With the increase in attacks and proliferation of data breaches, Irish businesses are at increasing risk of potential attack and data loss.  Cyber attacks have become more sophisticated, frequent and difficult to identify.  The complexity and interoperability of IT systems makes the protection of company and customer data also difficult to protect. 

Firms need to assume that they will eventually be subject to a successful cyber attack.

IT Governance

  • Is there robust IT policies in place to protect your data?
  • Is there a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate against a cyber attack and tested Annually?
  • Have staff being trained to identify cyber security threats? Do your staff receive ongoing training?
  • Is there reporting around backup, anti-virus, malware and external security vulnerabilities?
  • Has you network undergone penetration testing?
  • Is there an IT Asset Management plan in place?
  • Is there an IT Plan in place for 2017?

Managed Endpoint Security includes:

  • Patch Management
  • Anti Virus
  • Anti Malware
  • Web Controls / DNS Filtering
  • Users Management

5. Managed Firewall

We work to ensure that your systems are secure and available to the business.

It is essential that Firewalls are kept up to date and provide active filtering of both incoming and outgoing traffic. Brandon Global IT offers managed IT services which are designed to monitor & keep your data secure, accessible and recoverable while also giving the operational reporting that the business needs to know that critical items are completed on a daily and weekly basis.

The Brandon Global Managed Firewall only allows known traffic in and out of the network.

Managed Firewall Security includes:

  • Recommended Practice Implementation
  • Active Security Service for Packet Inspection
  • Reporting & Alerting
  • Scheduled Security External Vulnerability Scanning
  • Fully Monitored

6. Account Management

We will work with you in the area of IT planning and budgeting to allow you to better predict IT spend. With almost two decades of experience to draw from, we have refined our Total IT™ solution to focus on our customers needs.

We tailor IT support solutions that are predictable which will help you control costs without sacrificing on service and we will deliver the best experience for your users and customers.

Take advantage of our IT managed services and benefit from:

  • Increased Operational Efficiency
  • Standardisation
  • Improved IT Support and Management Visibility
  • Increased Return on Investment
  • Monthly Reporting
  • IT Strategy Consulting
  • 3rd Party Vendor Management

 

Section 1:

Why Outsourcing IT Support Is The Ideal Strategy For Small And Medium Businesses

Fact: There’s a shortage in the IT skills market. Yet, businesses now have more opportunity than ever to make up for this shortage. A simple solution is to outsource your IT services to an IT managed service provider. You might find that it’s a great way to save time and revenue on a department that’s becoming increasingly difficult to hire for. Here are three reasons why outsourced IT services can resolve the shortage of IT talent.

1. Qualified, Trained Professionals

When you’re looking for someone to lead your IT department, you want someone who has both the technological know-how and the skills to ensure they can provide a return-on-investment for your business. This often means that you want someone who has been around the block a time or two--someone who has plenty of experience, perhaps even certifications, and can offer ways to improve your IT management strategies. You don’t want to hire some hack to take care of your mission-critical technology. Also, some regions are landlocked in terms of talent available, and you may feel the need to give someone who is perhaps unqualified for the position the benefit of the doubt.

Instead, you can outsource the responsibility of an IT department to a managed service provider. Since most problems can be resolved remotely, you don’t necessarily need an on-site IT department, and you can instead invest in a relationship with a tried-and-true provider.

2. Fewer Salaries to Pay

If you were to hire an internal IT department, you would have to add several salaries to your payroll and budget--not necessarily a cost that a small business can easily absorb. Of course, you could also have your employees be responsible for the upkeep of their technology, but this isn’t advisable, as they won’t have the formal or hands-on training required to prevent major catastrophe.

To resolve this issue, outsourced IT takes your IT expenses and consolidates them into a month-by-month service agreement, in which you only pay the specified amount for services rendered. This frees up the funds that you would use on a salary for more variable use on other aspects of your business.

3. Less Time Wasted on IT Troubles

A major cause for concern when dealing with IT troubles is that a ton of time and resources goes into resolving them. If you don’t have an internal IT department, this means that your office could be thrown into chaos by an unexpected IT complication. Even if your team is responsible for ensuring that your IT is managed properly, they could waste all sorts of time and resources on it, when they should instead be focused on their jobs--which certainly shouldn’t consist of managing your technology solutions.

Outsourcing eliminates the frustration that you’d undoubtedly feel if your organisation were to manage its own technology. By having others handle your solutions, your team saves time that is better spent on other initiatives. These initiatives should be aimed at improving your organisation’s operations and bringing new, exciting projects to the table.

Section 2:

Essential Questions To Ask Your IT Service Provider

When was the last time that your organisation had an unexpected technology expense blast your IT budget out of the sky? Surprise issues that you don’t plan for could potentially derail your budget for months, or even years, depending on the severity of it. Having a clear idea of what your IT service plan covers is a great way to make sure that you don’t get hit by surprise billing.

We’ve put together a list of scenarios that you’ll want your IT support to cover. This way, you can avoid situations where you get unexpected bills from IT work performed on weekends, during off-hours, or on holidays.

Situations You Want Your IT Service Provider To Cover

When you sign up for IT support, you sign what’s called a service level agreement. This determines what type of service you receive throughout the course of your relationship with the IT managed service provider. Of course, this could change depending on your provider’s business model, but there are some specifics that you want to keep an eye out for. Trust us when we say that your budget will thank us later.

Here are a few questions that you should ask when determining your service agreement with your IT provider.

  1. Can your employees submit a support request without worrying about exceeding the IT budget?
  2. Will you be charged more for after-hours support? Are you covered on weekends and holidays?
  3. Is there a maximum amount of support that you can receive and would there be any excessive charges if you went over?
  4. Will you be charged for data recovery in the event of a disaster scenario?
  5. Will you have the flexibility to add more users and workstations?
  6. What kind of fees are there for running backup solutions off of virtualised, cloud-based servers while you’re waiting to replace your faulty hardware?
  7. Are there additional costs for expanding your data storage?
  8. What are the details behind your hardware maintenance agreement? If there are specific parts that aren’t covered, find out which ones.

Services You Should Want

Once you’ve determined which services you currently have, you can contrast it with what you still need. Here is a list of go-to services that you can count on being solid investments for your organization.

  • Unlimited remote and on-site support
  • Active Directory administration and maintenance
  • File, folder, and share administration
  • Security administration
  • Network policy enforcement and administration
  • Managed antivirus, spyware monitoring, maintenance, and removal
  • Data backups as often as every 15 minutes
  • Take backups of open documents without interruption
  • Rapid data restoration
  • Block inappropriate or dangerous web content in the workplace
  • Intrusion security

Section 3:

IT Strategy: Fundamentals

When running a business, you can’t always upgrade your technology to the latest and greatest equipment or software every time something new comes out. Yet, you also don’t want to be left behind, which would be limiting to your growth and mobility. Moving forward can be a daunting task, especially if you haven’t revamped your IT strategy in some time.

Take a moment to reconsider your current IT strategy, and make sure that it suits the needs of your business. Here are three aspects you should look at when thinking of your IT infrastructure.

1. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

One of the reasons that IT departments are unable to accomplish their multitude of tasks is that they have too many responsibilities, or lack the time or resources necessary to fulfill their duties. This happens when an IT department has several new initiatives that need to be deployed, but doesn’t have the staff to implement them. Essentially, nothing at all will get done because IT will be too busy putting out fires and responding to urgent problems to do anything else.

2. Which Initiatives Should Take Priority?

Prioritizing tasks is an often talked about problem. If everything is considered a priority, then nothing can become a priority, and progress stagnates. For example, let’s say that implementing a new email solution has been on the docket for a while, but your team has grown significantly since your last infrastructure revamp. The best way to approach this situation would be to handle network issues that could cause downtime before adding new solutions, but it’s not always an easy choice to make. 

3. Is Your Network Prepared For Growth?

When was the last time you analyzed the needs of your growing network? As a business grows, so too does the strain put on a network that’s constantly being accessed by more and more users. This means that unexpected amounts of traffic could slow down your network to the point where it’s difficult to get anything done. Downtime can cost your business in the long run, so your network should be optimized to ensure that your team can always stay productive. 

Keeping these 3 factors in mind will ensure your IT strategy enables your business objectives.

Section 4:

The Two Key Areas of Business IT Strategy

All businesses need to use some sort of technology to keep their operations moving forward. Yet, it’s often difficult to gauge how new solutions will function with your current systems. You need to take your options into careful consideration before making such an important choice, and only an analysis of your current setup will help you ensure the success of your new technology.

Here are a few concepts that technology-acquiring decision makers should consider: functionality, interoperability, and flexibility.

1. Interoperability and Functionality

It’s essential that your technology solutions play well with others, but this is something that may be difficult to judge - especially if you’re not in the business of managing technology. Oftentimes, running your business falls second while you’re stuck dealing with technology responsibilities that no one else can handle. If this happens, you probably don’t have the time needed to properly research a solution and may just implement it without a second thought. This is a dangerous practice and it could have unexpected effects on your current infrastructure setup, including access to mission-critical data and downtime.

You can never be too careful, and it always helps if you have professional technicians ready and willing to help you identify a good choice for your IT infrastructure. Only someone with the necessary knowledge of the latest technology should be making the decision to implement new hardware and software solutions. Otherwise, it is possible that your exciting new solution could become a hindrance.

2. Scalable, Flexible Solutions

Cloud computing and communications solutions are designed to offer organizations the flexibility they need to stay competitive and agile. Businesses using scalable solutions can tailor their services to meet their specific needs. Compared to costly, expensive service bundles, this flexibility is much desired.

Think of it like the “cord cutting” phenomenon which cable television is experiencing today. Users don’t want to invest in costly cable bills when they can get all sorts of content to view through online services like Netflix. Think of it like paying for 100 channels and only watching three of them. Some of the many IT solutions that are both flexible and scalable to meet your needs include:

  • Cloud services
  • Virtual helpdesk and support
  • VoIP telephony
  • Hosted email
  • Productivity suites and software as a service

This type of flexibility is something that’s built into our brand of managed IT services. Our solutions are specific to what the client needs. This assures business owners that the solutions they implement won’t be outdated in the near future, and can be adjusted to accommodate growth.

Another important topic to touch on is how difficult it can be to implement technology solutions when you’re not entirely sure what you need in the first place. An IT roadmap can help your business get the most out of its technology, taking into account where you want your organisation to be over the next few years.

Section 5:

Getting Your IT Budget Under Control

When you’re planning your business’s technology ventures, how often does your IT budget become a major deciding factor? Chances are that it clings to you like a ball and chain. Wouldn’t it be nice to free yourself from something so limiting? We’ve compiled three ways that you can take some of the strain off of your IT budget.

1. Build an IT Roadmap

If you’re making the decision to purchase new hardware or software solutions on a day-by-day basis, you might be in for a nasty surprise when a server failure or an unexpected workstation power-down leaves you with little choice but to invest in new systems. If your budget hasn’t taken these new devices into account, you could be in danger of overspending IT resources.

This is why creating an IT roadmap is so important. You sit down with a trusted network administrator or IT professional and map out the next one, five, or even ten years in regard to your organization’s technology assets. This is an opportune time to schedule hardware and software refreshes so that your technology never falls behind, and so that your budget is flexible enough to adapt to rapid changes in operations.

2. Minimize Downtime

Similarly, downtime is a major contender for the most disruptive instance in the office environment. Downtime is classified as any instance when your business isn’t operating as intended. This could stem from a loss of personnel or the loss of an Internet connection. In most cases, however, it comes from your technology not working properly. Eliminating downtime is a top priority if you want to ensure that your IT budget isn’t being wasted.

Thankfully, you can resolve this issue by taking advantage of a dynamic backup and disaster recovery solution. BDR works by providing near-instantaneous access to your data backups, allowing your business to experience minimal downtime in the event of a disaster, like a fire or electrical storm. The less time you spend getting back in action following a disaster, the more time you spend being productive.

3. Outsource as Much as Possible

We know what you might be thinking; “why pay for someone else to do the work, when I can just do it myself?” Some business owners think that they can save money on IT expenses by devoting their time and energy into learning about technology solutions and how to manage them on their own. While this might make sense on paper, it’s important to remember that IT management and maintenance are not simple tasks, and certainly not any that you can easily invest in.

This is why outsourcing is so highly recommended to small and medium-sized businesses. It helps you onboard professional technicians who understand your needs, but without the frustration of adding new salaries to your budget. All you pay is a monthly rate as per your service level agreement. It’s recommended that you outsource as much of your IT as possible, since you can remove IT as a capital expense and add it to your operational expenses.

Section 6:

Virtualisation

Hosting an in-house IT infrastructure may give you the reassurance that all of your servers and network equipment are easy to access, but continuing to use just legacy servers can have a negative impact on your operations. Modern IT uses a blend of on-site virtual server solutions, optimised to deliver the best outcomes for your specific business needs - including a standby server for high availability and cloud replication for disaster recovery.

Virtualisation helps your business simplify its infrastructure by eliminating older, unnecessary hardware components. These components are migrated to a virtual server, which can cut down on the amount of in-house equipment that must be managed and maintained. Considering how much energy is spent powering all of your mission-critical components, and how much you could save by cutting down your in-house resources, it can be a clever business strategy.

We’ll explain how virtualisation can affect your organisation's technological assets for the benefit of your budget and operations.

1. Data Storage & Cloud

Rather than simply host and maintain all physical data storage on-premises, it can be easier and more efficient to migrate certain business-critical functions in a cloud environment. Anyone who needs access to the data can then access it from a secure connection. The greatest benefit of this is that you can scale according to your organization’s specific information, with the latest version of core applications like email and CRM, and allow access on a per-user basis on approved devices.

2. Backup and Disaster Recovery

Most importantly, virtualisation is one of the most effective strategies for data backup. It is impossible to plan for all external events that can affect your business. Natural disasters, cyber security risks and equipment failure can all have an adverse effect on your business operations. In particular, when your systems go down so does employee productivity. Combining on-site virtualisation with cloud backup and a disaster recovery plan eliminates downtime and ensures your business is protected for all eventualities.

As many businesses now require 24 / 7 / 365 access to company information, a small investment in backup and disaster recovery planning can lead to major cost savings in the event of an outage.

Section 7:

How Cloud Computing Can Help Your Business

Cloud computing has taken the business world by storm, fulfilling so many needs and simplifying as many processes. If you’ve been on the fence about incorporating the cloud into your IT infrastructure, you should know a few of these benefits to help you make your choice.

Cost Efficiency

Let’s face it, when you’re running a business, cost is a factor in every decision you have to make. Leveraging the cloud for any of a variety of purposes can help you to trim some expenses and make some others stretch a little further. A cloud setup provides the ability to scale your resources to match your needs, ensuring that you aren’t paying for more than you need. This simplifies your budget, and may help free up some capital to invest in other business needs.

Multiple Purposes

While the cloud is most famously associated with storage, it has the capability to serve your business in other ways as well. For instance, the cloud can host your software solutions for you as a part of a Software as a Service agreement. In these cases, any time there are improvements made and a new version is available, your solutions will be upgraded immediately.

Alternatively, the cloud can be used to facilitate a backup and disaster recovery strategy. By housing a backup of your data in an offsite cloud environment, it will be safe should some calamity damage your in-house infrastructure. In these cases, you can even virtualise your systems and run them directly from the cloud to preserve productivity while the office is repaired.

Finally, we return to storage, as it relates to the collaborative benefits to be had with the cloud. By storing business files and data in the cloud, you and your employees can share access and work together to achieve your shared company goals--whether or not you’re anywhere near each other.

Security

Your data is undeniably precious to your business, and as a result, it must be protected from threats from all sides, both external cyber crime and internal user error. Using the cloud permits you to keep your most sensitive data accessible on a need-to-know basis, and allows you to wipe a device in the hands of someone who doesn’t need to know, if need be.