The Danger of I.T.’s Black Box (what you don’t know CAN cost you)

by Michael Anderson

November 27, 2012

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365 Technologies Inc. - Worry Free IT™ - Winnipeg Computer Network Support

Some guys are car guys. I am not one of them.

Sadly, my knowledge of vehicle mechanics covers where the gas goes, and the windshield washer fluid. This has caused my mechanically-inclined father some level of embarrassment.

Cars are a ‘black box’ to me. I simply don’t understand how they work. The result, of course, is that I am at the mercy of those who do. When it comes to repairs, I have no idea how long something should take, or what it should cost (unless I do some comparison shopping). It’s a vulnerable position.

For many businesses, their technology acts as a black box. They know it’s there, they know when it’s not working, but that’s about it. This, too, can be a vulnerable and costly position. Why?

1. Pay-by-the-hour support

Most businesses who have not made the transition to a managed services support model, and are paying by the hour for IT support, don’t have the technical knowledge to judge how long an issue should take to repair.

Should a Firewall firmware upgrade take 1 hour or 3? What about repairing an Exchange database? Virtualizing a server?

Certainly, there is a level of trust required with your support provider. That said, a fixed fee managed services approach removes the issue altogether, stabilizing your support costs without increasing your IT knowledge.

2. Lack of Documentation

One of the ways technology support providers can keep clients hostage is by failing to document the network. If knowledge of your network only exists in the head of your support provider, you’re at risk of being held hostage to an arrangement that no longer works for you. You can’t consider changing, because only ‘Joe’ knows the network, and you would have to pay for someone else to learn it, right?

Proper documentation of your network (configuration, passwords, etc.) helps remove the ‘black box’ effect, by creating transparent AND transferable information about your company’s information systems.

3. Lack of transparency in Service requests

In the same way that there should be transparency into how your network is set up, work applied AGAINST your network should also be documented. Service requests should be ticketed, with full and proper notes detailing the root cause of the issue, and steps to resolution.

Correcting these issues are really about 1) increasing your access to information and 2) reducing the risk that comes with being less knowledgeable than the service provider.

If you’d like to discuss removing the ‘black box’ effect from your company’s technology support, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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