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Managed Services and the IT Support Maturity Model
The Evolution and Benefits of IT Support Fit for 21st Century Businesses
The growth of home-based working and virtual offices has been advanced by some powerful driving factors:
Many are likely to have some familiarity with the concept of the maturity model. However, for those that are not or that require a refresher, a maturity model is a business tool that is frequently used to assess items such as people and culture, processes and structures, and objects and technology.
One way of applying the model is the bottom-up approach. In this approach, distinct characteristics of each level are determined and clustered in ascending steps to map a general view of the evolved maturity of the subject in question.
A typical bottom up maturity model is shown below:
If we consider the process of provisioning the support of business technology for companies of 10 - 100 people from internal resources or external 3rd party service providers, then at Level 1, the elementary stage, we might identify such characteristics as:
The absence of a clear route or structured approach to obtaining support
Poorly organised documentation, no asset register with uncertainty about warranty, original supplier, and traceability of assets in general
An unprepared and reactive approach, responding to support incidents as they happen
This is generally known as the Break-fix model. Break-fix is a crude approach and it holds many risks for today’s businesses. The pivotal role of technology in today’s businesses mean that Break-fix is outmoded.
Today, it is unlikely that many companies practice Break-fix in its purest sense, however, many businesses are likely to experience problems and disruptions to workflows and productivity because of the lack of a structured approach to obtaining the right level of assistance to match the urgency of any particular incident that requires a support response.
Level 2 - ‘Better Endeavour’
As we move up, at Level 2 we find that there is significant shift in approach. This might be characterised by attributes such as:
A clear route to providing IT support from internal resources or external 3rd parties, but still reactive
Relationship with external provider with services delivered up to the limit of a pre-paid budget, ‘best endeavour’
Likely to provide an ‘emergency services’ approach, but without providing preventative maintenance
The motivation to migrate up to Level 2 from the Break-fix approach is likely to have been caused by a series or perhaps a single serious incident that caused severe operational difficulties for the business.
Level 3 - ‘Best Endeavour’
Level 3 is less constrained by budgetary limits and may provide more latitude for 3rd party service providers to act somewhat proactively.
A more defined route to providing IT support from internal resources or from external 3rd parties
Still likely to be reactive but with some provisioning for proactive preventative maintenance where budget permits
Organisation and documentation of IT assets, infrastructure and support efforts, if budget permits
Best endeavour demonstrates the desire for a company to be more in control of technology and to help prevent it being a slave to fate in respect of disruption to workflows and productivity in the event of technology failures.
Level 4 - Managed Service
Level 4 is the penultimate stage of the maturity model. In the context of IT support it represents a Managed Service. At this stage of maturity, IT support is a business process the true value of which is recognised by the business. Typical characteristics include:
A highly structured and organised approach to how support is provisioned from internal and escalated to external 3rd parties where necessary and appropriate
Full documentation, including warranty/supplier traceability, software and hardware asset registers, support incident ticketing and tracking
Software patching to prevent exploitation of security vulnerabilities
Application updating to provide the latest productivity benefits of new software releases
Remote monitoring and highly proactive approach to preventing failures that can be predicted
Response to sudden unpredicted technology failure prioritised appropriately to reflect importance to the business
Allows internal IT solo operators or small teams to become highly proactive, more strategic, customer facing and high level
A Managed Service is a highly mature approach to provisioning support for 10- 100 people businesses. It guarantees access to high quality support as defined by the SLA (Service Level Agreement) for specified items. This sets the timeframes for fault rectification and provides operational certainty around workflows and productivity.
Level 5 - Managed Service With Optimisation
Level 5 represents the full maturation of the IT support model. This is a Managed Service that displays all the characteristics of Level 4 with the addition of optimisation. Optimisation at Level 5 provides analytics and advisory services to identify how to improve the performance of technology in the business. Ultimately, this maximises the strategic value of IT to the business and helps ensure IT investment is made in line with the ongoing and future needs of the firm.
This might include:
LAN network performance and identifying bottlenecks that slow file transfer and data access
WAN network performance and identifying internet bandwidth issues
Analysis of server/storage performance to identify performance issues
Developing the technology roadmap of the firm in line with predicted business needs and growth
Identifying security/privacy risks from ‘Shadow IT’ - where employees use free online services because of perceived gaps in company IT toolsets
For companies that seek competitive advantage and that really want to maximise the ability to succeed in the 21st Century, IT support provided as a Managed Service with optimisation is the best way to ensure technology remains available and continually returns value to the business.
The IT Support Managed Service Maturity model
Graphically if we apply and overlay the practice of IT support on to the maturity model, we arrive at the following:
Characteristics of Maturity Levels
IT Support for the way businesses work today from HTL
IT Support as a Managed Service fits very well with the needs of today’s small and medium businesses of 10 - 100 employees. Delivering IT support under this business model enables companies to get the best value from their investment in technology while avoiding the business risks of the break-fix approach to IT Support.
Key benefits of selecting HTL for your IT Support Managed Services requirements include:
End-to-end service that looks after the entire technology fabric used by the business
Personal service delivery from a friendly, familiar hands-on technical expert
Uncovers hidden technology challenges that derive from organic processes
Fits with the need for business flexibility to accommodate changes to the core business
Takes control of Shadow IT and determines the use of technology in the business
Links IT Guy remuneration to performance and customer experience
About HTL Support
HTL Support was initially founded in 2009 by Managing Director Justin Dean, to provide specialist IT support and IT consultancy services to financial services sector clients. Since its launch, HTL has rapidly evolved to offer a full range of cutting-edge, integrated and flexible products and services to a worldwide client base across all industries. Our experience and professionalism has been endorsed both by our clients and by many of the world’s leading hardware and software manufacturers.
All companies need to know that their IT support provider is not going to let them down when it comes to important projects. We will always find the right solution and are equally happy either functioning as project managers for your internal IT department or providing an experienced team to work under your own IT Director or project leader.