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Do you want to learn more about IT support and how we work?

Here is a selection of our case studies, presentations, and other operating documents to give you a better perspective of what it is like to work with us in practice. This material is used to help our clients make sound decisions about their IT environment and to deliver optimal IT support.

Workshop presentation on understanding cloud services

Takeaways about cloud services presented by Simply Smart Technology at SBA SCORE Chicago.

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Cloud vs. on premises questionnaire

Key questions you should ask before moving to cloud services.

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Evaluation of law practice/case management software

In-depth review and cost comparison of the case management software and applications available to law practices.

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BYOD policy interview

Key questions you should ask before moving to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) enablement.

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The basics of IT support discussed in plain English

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What is IT support?

IT is short for information technology and IT support is the help your users receive when they have problems with their computer system.

These are examples of problems that IT support would prevent or fix: a computer does not start, an application crashes, users can't access network resources or the Internet, blue screen, fan or hard drive noises, failed hardware, etc.

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Why does having dedicated IT support matter for my business?

Without dedicated IT support a business relies on their internal staff to troubleshoot IT issues. In general, IT support tasks will fall to IT savvy individuals whose primary job is another function.

When presented with an IT issue, these non-professionals usually take a bunch of time to Google around and find something to fix the immediate problem in the moment. In the event that the staffer finds a fix or workaround, the process for even the savviest end-user is painfully slow. And the bigger risk is that their work could obscure lager systemic issues that must be addressed at the root cause.

When users are left without guidance or access to professional help, there is no guarantee IT issues are fixed the right way and won't cause bigger issues down the line. Even the most experienced end users have a difficult time telling the difference between a helpful tool and malware, or an isolated issue on a single computer and a bigger one affecting the entire system.

It is important for a business to have direct access to professional IT support help and receive both efficient on-demand fixes to technology problems and consultative advice that helps prevent issues.

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What are the models for IT support and their differences?

The most common models for structuring IT support for business are:

  • Employed Single Resource
  • Employed Team
  • Break/Fix IT Support or Outsourced Consultant
  • Managed Service Provider (MSP)

The IT support model you should select will depend on the size of your business, budget, reliance on technology, and business goals.

The tables below compare the Pros and Cons of each model to help you narrow in on a model that works for your organization's specific IT support needs.

Go to table
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What is an Employed Single Resource?

An employed single resource is an individual person that an organization hires directly to provide IT support.

The business takes on the hiring, training, and management of a direct hire. The responsibility for hiring this technology professional falls on your internal staff, vetting candidates for this position could be complex.

A single person has the benefit of being dedicated to the business and available during business hours, but faces the limitations of bing a single person. One person can only work on one IT issue at a time. If two people are having a problem at the same time, someone will be waiting for access to IT support.

Also a single IT person will come into an organization with their fixed set of skills. When they hit a problem that is outside of their skill set or out of their depth they have to rely on Internet research to find a fix or ask the business to pay for expensive training.

Even if an organization has hired and trained a this resource very well, there is a high risk to the business of loosing institutional knowledge or repeating the hiring, training, and management process again if there is turn-over in this position.

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What is an Employed Team?

An Employed Team is when an organization directly hires a team of IT professionals to provide IT support.

The business takes on the hiring, training, and management of these direct hires.

If you hire, train, and manage these technology professionals well, a team of people with a diverse set of skill that is dedicated to the business and available during business hours is ideal. But expensive!

  • $100,000+ - CTO for high-level strategy and decision making
  • $70,000+ - Systems Administrator for deep technical skills and server management
  • $80,000+ - Network Administrator to support firewall, switch, router, and network devices
  • $35,000+ - Desktop Support technicians to help end-users with day-to-day IT issues

There are exceptionally well run IT support Employed Teams, but is unusual to see an internal IT team focus on response times and customer service in the same way an outside IT support company would. And far fewer Employed Teams have access to enterprise class tools for proactive monitoring and maintenance.

If an organization has hired and trained very well, there is lower risk to the business of loosing institutional knowledge or repeating the hiring, training, and management process again if there is turn-over in this position.

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What is break/fix support or single outsource consultant?

A break/fix service provider is an external company specialized in offering IT support to other businesses. A single outsourced consultant is a single individual that specializes in offering IT support to businesses. These two types of IT support providers are grouped together because they generally present the same benefits and challenges.

Break/fix service providers and single outsourced consultants deliver a reactive, on-demand support once a computer problem has already occurred. Users must call to notify those break/fix providers for help and pay a fee for each specific service call.

Break/fix providers are only working (and paid) when there is an issue. In contrast, your business keeps employees working and productive when issues are prevented from happening in the first place. These two perspectives are conflicting. If break/fix support providers act in an advisory capacity to prevent a problem, they are taking future business away from themselves. It's not a question about the integrity of the provider, it is just that the break/fix model puts the respective interests of the support provider and the business at odds.

Many break/fix providers are also single person shops and face the limitations of bing a single person. One person can only work on one IT issue at a time. If two people are having a problem at the same time, someone will be waiting for access to IT support.

In order to make sure they have consistent business, a break/fix provider or single outsourced consultant must keep on their roster a lot of clients who always have problems. These providers struggle to provide a responsive service to all their clients because they are constantly booked.

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What are managed service providers (MSPs)? What is their focus?

A managed service provider is an external company specialized in offering IT support to other businesses. MSPs focus is on issue prevention and limiting downtime to maximize productivity.

They commonly charge a flat fee for a plan that includes multiple services – e.g. server administration, security and policy management, help desk support, etc.

MSPs align their incentives with the goals of the business. Because their services come at a flat fee, any issue prevention makes both the business and the MSP more efficient.

MSPs have a set roster of clients with fixed monthly fees, so they can hire and plan for the right amount of staffing to remain highly responsive and support needs of their clients.

Simply Smart Technology is a Managed Service Provider.

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What is remote and onsite support? Why is remote support as a first step better for my business?

Onsite support is when a technician is physically present at your business location.

Remote support is when a technician helps you or your employees resolve a computer issue without being physically present in the same office.

For most IT problems, remote support is the fastest way to get your issues resolved and your users back to work.

Most MSPs initiate a remote support session as a first step to troubleshooting computer issues. They are able to do this by installing a piece of software on their clients’ computers which enables technicians to establish a secure connection. Once an end user approves the connection, a technician can start working on the supported computer and resolve problems almost instantly.

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What is "the cloud" or cloud services? How do they compare to software run on premises?

The "cloud" is a marketing term used to describe turn-key software solutions that requires little upfront investment, an easy on-ramp to acquiring new technology.

Software in the Cloud includes everything that you would traditionally need to run your software onsite. But unlike on-premise solutions, there is no large upfront investment in this technology such as:

  • Hardware (like servers, storage, and network devices)
  • Software licenses
  • IT professionals to manage and support the technology

Cloud services are offered on demand and priced per user, month, or unit. This billing model is flexible, since you only pay for what you and your employees need at a particular point in time.

Generally cloud services leverage enterprise class infrastructure that would be cost prohibitive for small companies to buy, configure, and maintain on their own. Purchasing cloud services is like a time-share for technology, by sharing the IT infrastructure costs with many other companies a small organization can get access to large scale technology.

The trade-off for low upfront cost and flexibility is a higher long-term cost and loss of control. When compared to traditional on-premise technology installations over the expected life of a technology (3 - 5 years), cloud services are generally more expensive.

Buyer beware, many cloud services (even the ones offered by big reputable companies) do not offer service level agreements (SLAs) that promise to keep the service available or your data safe. Download a copy of "Cloud vs. on premises questionnaire" that lists the key questions you should ask before moving to cloud services.

Go to download
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What is a backup? Why is it important for my business?

It is predictable that technology will fail or become obsolete over time.

What we ask ourselves is when do we expect a specific piece of technology to fail and what can we do to mitigate the risk of it failing. There are industry studies that give us statistics and timelines for when we should expect failure to happen, the meantime before failure (MTBF).

We configure critical server resources with redundancy to account for individual components failing. And we recommend replacing critical equipment before it hits the upper end of that expected failure window.

We also make and store a second copy of data, called a backup, to mitigate the risk of predictable hardware failure, unpredictable user error, or unexpected data corruption.

Backups are taken using a specialty software, called backup software. This software not only copies the data, but compresses it the data for storage and manages how much backup history is retained.

Local, or on premise, backups are stored on a storage device at the same location as the devices being backed up. When someone speaks of backups, this is the type of backup they mean.

Disaster recovery backups are a set of backups stored offsite at a different, remote location, geographically separated from the devices being backed up. The offsite copy of data mitigates the risk of something happening to your office location. When someone says "disaster recovery", DR, or "cloud" backup this is the type of backup they mean.

In the event of an issue with a company's data storage, being able to access and restore data QUICKLY is critical. DR, offsite, or "cloud" storage is slower to access and restore because it is physically located outside your organization and retrieved over the Internet. This speed to restore difference is why local backups are recommended in combination with DR backups.

The pros and cons of the various IT support models

The most common models for structuring IT support for business are: Employed Single Resource, Employed Team, Break/Fix IT Support or Outsourced Consultant, Managed Service Provider (MSP)

The IT support model you should select will depend on the size of your business, budget, reliance on technology, and business goals.

The tables below compare the Pros and Cons of each model to help you narrow in on a model that works for your organization's specific IT support needs.

Pros

IT Support Models
No recruiting, hiring, or management overhead
Cost efficient
Fixed and predictable costs
Always available during business hours
After hours emergency response
Quick response & resolutions
Ability to support multiple users at once
Variety of resources totaling deep and broad skill set
Low risk to organization if a single resource becomes unavailable
Focus on issue prevention
Enterprise class tools for monitoring and management

Cons

IT Support Models
Not easy to find the right resource
High recruitment, training, and management costs
Little incentive to be people or customer service focused
Resource is either idle or overloaded
High dependence & risk on attendance and turn-over
Not up-to-date on IT best practices
Limited knowledge & narrow perspective
Reactive support
Slow response times
Small issues snowball into larger problems
Resource goals & business goals not aligned