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7 Tips for Managing a Remote IT Team

7 Tips for Managing a Remote IT TeamThe beauty of technologies like cloud and IT automation is that it’s enabled many IT teams to work remotely, either some or all of the time. Research has shown that offering flexible work options can dramatically improve productivity, boost employee morale (and therefore retention), maximize efficiency and cut costs. But managing remote teams isn’t without its challenges. Here are a few key pointers that will help keep everyone on track, engaged and working at optimal performance.

Check in on a regular basis.

It’s easy for remote workers to become detached from the team, which could result in a slack in performance, disengagement and potential turnover. Avoid this by making a point to stay in continuous contact with your virtual team members. Check-in consistently, whether it’s daily, weekly, bi-weekly or another arrangement that works for you.

Choose face/voice time over electronic communications.

The same technology that facilitates remote work arrangements should also be utilized to keep offsite workers plugged in. Remember – your employees are already immersed in things like IT automation and other human-less tools. Bring them back to reality by connecting via telephone or video conferencing instead of email or instant messaging. If possible, occasional in-person meetings are recommended.

Make communication a priority.

When it comes to remote workers, “out of sight, out of mind” can easily become a problem. Co-located teams that perform at their best do so in part because those in leadership roles make regular communication a priority. Get to know your off-site employees. Actively listen when you’re meeting together. Treat them with trust and respect. Ask about workload and progress. Simply put, over-communicate.

Be clear about expectations.

As a manager, it’s your job to clearly and accurately let your employees – both on-site and remote – about exactly what’s expected of them. Being located at a satellite or home office can make it even more challenging for team members to know where they stand. Always be direct about roles, projects, deadlines and anything else so that your remote workers will be able to deliver on those expectations.

Make yourself available and accessible.

Your remote workers cannot simply pop into your office when they have a question or concern. Overcome this challenge by making yourself as available as possible and ensuring that your team members know when and how to best get ahold of you. Respond promtly to messages or emails. This may involve making yourself available across different time zones, but it’s essential to running a cohesive dispersed team.

Enable and encourage collaboration.

To be most effective in their roles, remote employees should be able to connect and collaborate with other team members. Thanks to technology, there are plenty of tools available to facilitate this, from Skype and instant messages to Slack and other cloud collaboration tools. Once the preferred platforms are set up, encourage your subordinates to participate and lead the charge by actively engaging as well.

Foster relationships.

When employing tools like IT automation, it can be easy to become detached from the human aspect of working as part of an IT team. Overcome this obstacle by using team building and camaraderie to foster interpersonal relationships amongst team members. Make a point to get to know your employees on a personal level and try to find a common ground. Encourage occasional “water cooler” conversations, as they will enable personal connections and strengthen relationships.

If you thought IT automation would allow you to set it and forget it, you may have forgotten about the one key component of your IT team that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon: people. Keeping the human touch in the mix can be challenging, especially when some or all team members are located off-site. The seven tips above should help you keep your remote team happier, healthier and ultimately more successful.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Eliminate Human Errors (Without Eliminating the Humans)

Eliminate Human Errors (Without Eliminating the Humans)

There’s a humorous old dictum in the IT industry that “To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.” When you combine the two, however – human error PLUS computers – then you can achieve catastrophic disruptions of truly epic proportion, like the massive AWS outage suffered by Amazon in early 2017.

The Uptime Institute estimates that human error lies behind about 70 percent of the problems plaguing data centers today. Seventy percent. Think about that. In 70 percent of cases, all it took to bring today’s most powerful high-tech to its knees was just one person making an honest mistake.

A mistyped keyboard stroke here. An erroneous mouse click there. We’ve all done it. Who among us hasn’t absent-mindedly pressed “Reply All” to an email meant for one person, then realized with horror that the errant message went organization-wide?

The people working in data centers are no different from you and me. They’re human and therefore vulnerable (if not more prone) to those same kinds of errors, especially given the number of systems they have to interface with, the profusion of processes they’re responsible for and the sheer monotony of their workload. Together these dynamics congeal into a brain-fog of tedium which can easily cause one to lose focus and make mistakes.

Where data center operators do primarily differ from us is that they often run the same mission critical jobs over and over, performing their tasks flawlessly hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of consecutive times. At some point though, that perfect streak comes to an end. It always does, because humans are fallible, and not even the best data center operators are 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time.

In fact, when you think about it, it’s a wonder the rate of outages due to human error isn’t even higher than it is.

If you’re in upper management, the probability of downtime caused by human error should worry you.  Not just because of the resulting damage and its consequential costs, but because of the repercussions that inevitably follow the outage. After the shock and anger subside, the finger pointing begins, thanks to impeccable 20/20 hindsight. Once the blame game starts, it usually doesn’t end until reputations are ruined and secure jobs are lost. Many promising corporate careers were terminated by preventable disasters like these.

So what’s upper management to do about the potential for IT failures in their data center caused by human error?

Optimizing existing procedures or building in procedural circuit breakers to prevent wider damage are strategies that ultimately ignore the root cause of the issue – the fact that humans performing repetitive and often laborious manual processes inevitably commit errors. Therefore, the key to drastically reducing the potential for human error-caused outages is to eliminate the potential for human error in the first place by automating the part that humans do.

It’s the exact same logic behind the push for self-driving automobiles.

Various studies have pegged human error as the cause of anywhere between 90-95 percent of all traffic accidents. According to McKinsey, widespread use of autonomous vehicles could “eliminate 90 percent of all auto accidents in the United States, prevent up to $190 billion in damages and health-costs annually and save thousands of lives.”

The irreducible conclusion many are realizing is that eliminating the potential for human errors also eliminates big problems and the big costs associated with them. The most practical and cost-effective way of eliminating human errors is with automation.

In the NOCs and SOCs where headline-making outages occur, this revelation may initially be met with concern and even resistance. After all, your data center operators have spent many years honing their skill sets and developing their expertise in order to run the mission critical systems your organization relies upon. They may not take kindly to the notion that much of what they’ve done all these years can now be done more accurately with software.

In due time however, these same operators will realize that they stand to benefit from automation as much as anyone. Automation frees up data center personnel from tedious, repetitive, mind-numbing processes (that many of them secretly despise) so they can focus on more strategic and challenging work that will allow them to make better use of their skills and expertise. This realignment will also likely improve their level of job satisfaction since they’ll be contributing to the organization at a higher level.  As one of our customers once put it, “If they spend less time staring at blinking lights then they can spend more time on higher value projects.” Happier employees means lower costly turnover.

Furthermore, combining automation with the knowledge and skills of your best operators will make them far more productive and vastly more effective. In other words, automation is a force multiplier for your data centers, as well as being a highly effective risk mitigation tool.

When contemplating automation, upper management should consider one more factor – the competition. Many of your competitors have already embraced automation as a risk mitigation strategy to eliminate human error-caused service disruptions. As they automate more and more of their operations, they not only become less prone to outages, but their businesses also become more efficient and much more scalable, potentially leaving your organization at a competitive disadvantage.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and give automation a try, here’s a high-level view of how we recommend you begin:

  • Identify the critical processes most vulnerable to human error, and those which would be most costly to the organization should an operator make a mistake leading to a disruption.
  • Document these processes, paying particular attention to the parts involving potential for human error.
  • Automate these processes using an enterprise-strength orchestration tool which has a proven track record in mission critical environments (like Ayehu).

Why let costly errors rob your organization of efficiency, employee retention and competitive advantage? Check out automation in action and see how it can become a force multiplier for your enterprise by launching your demo today.

 

Guy NadiviAbout the Author: Guy Nadivi is the Sr. Director of Customer Success for Ayehu, and the first employee hired by the company in North America. Having previously served in numerous roles for Ayehu, Guy now leads the customer success initiative, which has emerged as a leading customer success program among all automation vendors. Previously, Guy founded three technical consulting firms, one of which was acquired by a publicly traded NASDAQ company. He has authored numerous articles of both a business and technical nature, for Forbes, The Jerusalem Post, Lotus Notes Advisor, and others.  Guy received a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Northridge.

 

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

How to Choose the Right Partner for Your MSP Business

How to Choose the Right Partner for Your MSP BusinessBuilding a profitable managed service provider business requires striking a delicate balance between adding value for your clientele and also adding value for your organization. If the scales tip too far in either direction, your business could easily topple. Part of keeping things in balance involves selecting the right partners who will support and help you achieve your MSP business goals. Here are a few tips to ensure a good fit.

Identify and understand your customers’ needs.

You can’t expect to meet (and hopefully exceed) the needs of your clients if you don’t have a clear and accurate understanding of what those needs are. Do they employ any IT staff in-house or do they rely entirely on your company? Do they have an eCommerce side to their business? Do they work with particularly large files? Different clients will have different needs and require MSP support for different reasons. Understanding these various needs will help you choose a partner that will help you address those needs.

Set your own business goals.

Once you have a clear understanding of what your clients expect from you, the next important step is identifying your organizational goals. Again, the objective is to strike a balance between delivering the best possible service at the lowest cost to save your customers money while also finding a way to do more with less so you can remain profitable. This is why choosing the right vendor is so important. For instance, a partner offering intelligent automation can allow you to work on limited staff to keep operating costs at a minimum while still delivering a high degree of service to your MSP clients.

Schedule a meet and greet.

There are plenty of MSP partners on the market today. Your task will be to shortlist the ones with offerings that most closely align with your clients’ needs and your business goals. Once you’ve got a few narrowed down, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with each of them. A great way to meet potential vendors and get a feel for who they are and what they offer is to attend industry events where they are presenting or performing demos. (For instance, Ayehu sponsors, attends and presents at a wide variety of events, offering demos of our intelligent automation powered by AI.) This will give you an opportunity to meet the team, see the product in action and ask any questions you may have.

Make sure it integrates.

One key factor to consider when weighing your options is whether a partner’s product will integrate well with your existing systems, programs and applications. There’s really no point in adopting a technology if it will remain isolated from the rest of your infrastructure. Look for a product, like Ayehu, that integrates easily, seamlessly and quickly with everything from Solarwinds to VMware to Twilio and any other platform you currently rely on. The goal should be to plug and play with as little disruption as possible.

Understand the service requirements for implementation.

The last question you should ask is whether your technicians will need special skills to deliver the solution and, if so, what those skills are. For instance, will your team need to worry about coding or scripting? (Ideally, an MSP solution that requires no coding and offers out-of-the-box templates and functionality should be at the top of your list.) If there is a learning curve, will training be provided? You’ll also want to determine the level of human intervention required. Remember, less is always more in this instance.

Ready to move to the next step? Ayehu’s intelligent automation solution, powered by AI, is designed to help bring your MSP business to the next level. You can be up and running in just minutes, saving time, delivering a higher level of service and freeing up your staff to focus on more critical tasks. But don’t take our word for it. Take Ayehu for a test drive today and experience it for yourself by clicking here!

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

Thinking of automating? Start with these 5 things.

Thinking of automating? Start with these 5 things.IT process automation is certainly nothing new. In fact, organizations of every shape, size and industry have been leveraging this powerful and cost-effective tool to boost productivity and service levels and to create leaner, more efficient operations. The one issue that many who are new to the automation realm tend to struggle with, however, is determining where to begin. If you’re in the process of adopting ITPA for your company, here are five high-value tasks you might want to focus on first.

Password Resets – They are a necessary evil, otherwise your entire operations could come crashing to a screeching halt. But password resets are also a huge drain on time and valuable resources which could, again, be focused on more important issues. This is why password resets are one of the first tasks most organizations that are new to automation choose as their starting point. You’ll probably be amazed at how much of an impact something so simple can make.

System Monitoring and Diagnostics – How much time does your help desk personnel spend monitoring systems and working to diagnose the cause of issues that crop up on a regular basis? Now, imagine if most or all of that effort could be shifted over to IT process automation. Not only would the work be done faster and without the risk of error, but it will also free up skilled employees to focus on more business-critical tasks.

Incident Management – When it comes to handling incidents, the more proactive your IT group is, the better. But they’re human, which means they can’t be in all places at all times, leaving plenty of room for costly problems to take root. By automating the incident management process, issues can be identified and addressed automatically, before they have the opportunity to cause major damage. Imagine the time and money you’ll save by not having to put out fires after the fact.

Free Up Disk Space – Low disk space is something most busy IT professionals dread. In fact the entire process of monitoring and making room for more space is horribly cumbersome, yet completely necessary. IT process automation, however, provides the ability to monitor multiple servers, automatically deleting files when necessary as well as archive, copy and move files to other locations as needed. Again, this is a huge savings of time and money for your organization.

Active Directory Management – The larger the business, the greater the impact employee turnover can have on the IT department. Waiting for the help desk to set up a new employee within the company’s internal systems can also significantly impact productivity on both sides, as can having to remove access as needed. Shifting these tasks and workflows over to IT process automation, on the other hand, speeds up the process and makes everyone’s lives easier.

While automation is certainly not a new concept, many organizations are still just beginning to dip their toe into the waters. As such, getting started can seem downright overwhelming. For situations such as this, we recommend starting with the five things listed above. They may not be the simplest, neatest or prettiest of tasks, but given their overall impact on staffing and productivity levels, doing so will provide the most significant, measurable results.

Ready to get your own feet wet with IT process automation but still unsure where to begin? Download your free copy of the 10 most commonly automated processes below and then request a product demo to see ITPA in action.

 

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing IT Process Automation

5 Misktakes to Avoid When Implementing IT Process AutomationLaunching an IT process automation project isn’t something that should be taken lightly. As with anything else in IT, in order for the process itself to go smoothly – from start to finish – you must plan carefully. More importantly, you must know what common mistakes are often made that can slow down or even completely derail the plan so that you can avoid making those same errors with your own project. Here are five of those common mistakes to be mindful of.

Choosing the wrong platform.

First and foremost, you cannot expect to complete a project in IT without the right tools and technology at your disposal. That being said, not all IT process automation platforms are created equal. Some are entirely too complex, difficult to use and lack critical intuitiveness. Others are simply too broad, encompassing too many tasks and workflows at once. What you need is an IT automation and orchestration platform that is easy to implement, simple to learn, can be integrated with existing systems and is inherently intuitive (ideally driven by AI capability). You should also look for a product that is scalable, allowing you to start out by automating one or two workflows and then work your way up.

Starting with the wrong processes.

When first rolling out IT process automation, the best tactic to take is to start small and then gradually work your way up. Many IT professionals make the mistake of beginning their automation project with a workflow that is extremely complex or which covers too wide of a scope. The basics of ITPA involve automating basic, manual repetitive daily tasks – at least in the beginning. Start with these, and once you’re comfortable with the platform you’re using, move on to more comprehensive processes.

Approaching solely from a technology standpoint.

It may seem like an oxymoron to list this as a mistake, but believe it or not, the best way to approach an automation project is not from a point of technology, but from a point of problem solving. You should first have a clear picture of what pain points you want IT process automation to address, and in what order, and then view the automation as a means to that end. When you do so, you focus on the more important end result and how to reach it, rather than getting caught up in the technology behind it.

Not looking at the big picture.

While it’s true that automation is highly effective in taking routine tasks of one small department and automating them to improve efficiency, what many fail to consider is that these tools can do so much more. In fact, the ultimate goal of ITPA is to become a bridge that connects all departments and ties together the entire infrastructure of an organization. Focusing on just one area can limit the virtually endless potential that IT process automation has to offer.

Failing to recognize and measure the value of automation.

As with anything else in business, measuring the success of your ITPA strategy and extracting its value is critical, yet it’s something that is overlooked far too often. In order to truly get the most out of your automation project, you must understand how to calculate your return on investment. This will help you uncover areas that could use some adjustments and identify which workflows and processes have been successfully automated. (Not sure how to do this? Don’t worry. We’ve already done the work for you in our free eBook.)

The key to success in any business project is planning ahead, and part of that planning involves recognizing the common mistakes made by others so that you can hopefully avoid doing the same. If you’re not careful, these five routine errors can slow down and even bring your ITPA process to a grinding halt. By choosing the right tool, starting small, focusing on the big picture and properly measuring your progress, you’ll be well on your way to successful ITPA implementation.

For more tips and tricks on launching a successful IT process automation project, download your free copy of the ITPA Survival Guide below or click here to request a free product demo today.

EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

Implementing IT Automation: What to Automate and When

Implementing IT Automation: What to Automate and WhenThe role of IT manager has evolved once again. Rather than having to handle everything themselves, these skilled leaders are seeking out ways to leverage resources (both human and machine) to do the nitty gritty so they can focus more on planning and strategic business projects. It’s not practical to dole out high salaries for personnel to perform time-consuming, repetitive and menial tasks, such as password resets, patches, system restarts and the like. This is where IT automation comes into play. But what to automate….and when? Believe it or not, this can be quite challenging.

The logical way to approach things might be to inventory the organization’s most common problems, whether it’s bandwidth issues, poor CPU utilization or any other issue that’s resulting in a negative user experience and a waste of valuable resources. But focusing on automation of these tasks may not actually address the underlying problem.

To leverage IT automation to its fullest potential, you should first focus on getting to the root cause of your organization’s issues, not just the overlying outcome. For instance, one common root cause might be capacity. To resolve this issue, you must analyze the biggest drains on bandwidth over a specified time period. From there, you must determine the optimal bandwidth to allocate to each traffic segment. Only when you uncover the true issue at hand can you use automation to truly resolve it.

Some may ask, why not just automate everything? Wouldn’t that help to cover all my bases? This may sound logical, but again, it’s not. If a certain task only occurs a handful of times a year, for example, and the manual effort involved in completing it is minimal, the cost of automating it might simply not be worth it. An adequate cost-value assessment is recommended.

The best approach to implementing IT automation is to prioritize the areas where technology can help reduce significant amounts of manual labor, reduce errors, improve service levels and simplify complex tasks. When these areas can be shifted from human to machine, the cost to do so is well worth it, particularly when you consider the cost of paying senior engineers to perform such tasks on a regular basis.

To simplify this, prioritize your manual tasks and workflows into the following three categories:

  1. Too Complex – These are complicated, multi-step processes which involve more than one system and subsystem to complete. These are ideal processes for IT automation because of their complexity. Not only will automating save tremendous time and effort, but it also eliminates the risk of human error.
  2. Too Tedious – These processes aren’t necessarily complex, but they take a long time to complete. For instance, setting up system access for new employees and other onboarding activities. For a larger organization, this task can really begin to bog down the IT department. Rather than having skilled agents wasting valuable time on these manual tasks, automating the entire process makes sense.
  3. Neither of the Above – If a task or workflow does not fit into either of the above categories, it probably doesn’t need to be automated (at least not yet).

These days, there are many great reasons to consider adopting IT automation. And with the right strategy, the return on your investment can be significant. By focusing on the above approach, you’ll be able to streamline operations, strike the ideal balance between human and machine, and truly get the most out of automation technology.

Experience for yourself the power of IT automation! Request a live demo of Ayehu Next Generation today!

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Want to Keep Your Organization Safe from Insider Threats? Watch Your C-Suite…

Want to Keep Your Organization Safe from Insider Threats? Watch Your C-Suite…These days, security professionals must be highly vigilant against the many threats that place their organizations at risk on a daily basis. And while hackers certainly show up high on the list, the truth of the matter is, it’s the people who work within your company that pose the greatest risk to data security. That’s why things like spear phishing have become such a successful method of entry. In fact, 80 percent of companies say that “end user carelessness” is the biggest security threat to their organization.

But the ones that are making your company most vulnerable to potential breaches aren’t poorly trained entry-level employees. It’s your senior level managers. Surprised? Many are. Yet, if you think about it, these individuals have access to information that is much more sensitive than that of the everyday employee. So, it stands to reason that the chance of an error resulting in a breach is naturally higher for this group.

And the numbers seem to support this theory. 58 percent of senior managers have accidentally sent sensitive information to the wrong person (compared to just 25 percent of workers overall). 51 percent have taken files with them after leaving a job – twice as many as office workers in general.

What are the biggest security risks these insiders pose? Most tend to fall within one or more of the following:

  • Reusing or sharing passwords with others
  • Leaving computers unattended outside of the workplace
  • Failing to delete data from computers once it’s no longer necessary
  • Carrying unnecessary sensitive data on a device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) while traveling
  • Using unsecured personal devices to process sensitive information
  • Failing to encrypt information when transmitting

So, what’s the solution? Well, the best approach should be multifaceted. Here’s a list of recommended actions:

  • Develop and establish a written security policy
  • Communicate that policy openly and regularly to ensure awareness across all levels of the company
  • Ensure appropriate access restriction to sensitive data (virtual and physical)
  • Conduct regular training to increase security awareness about what is and isn’t acceptable (start from the top!)

Last, but certainly not least, you should invest in available technology. This includes monitoring systems, alerting programs and automated cybersecurity incident response. These things will ensure that should an employee still make an error, it will be detected, addressed and remediated as quickly as possible.

Could your senior managers be placing your organization at risk? The time to act is now – before it’s too late! Start working on your strategy and download your free 30 day trial of Ayehu automation and orchestration platform.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

The Secret to Overcoming Employees’ Fear of Automation

The Secret to Overcoming Employees’ Fear of AutomationThere are lots of reasons an organization may struggle with the decision to automate. For instance, there’s the financial investment and, of course, the time and resources it will take to integrate and roll out the new platform. But perhaps the biggest hurdle many companies face when it comes to successfully adopting automation is the resistance they get from employees.

Whether they’re just uncomfortable with change or they’re worried that the technology will make their jobs redundant, without buy-in across the board, your automation implementation project will be much more difficult than it has to be. Thankfully with the right approach and some strategic planning, this fear of automation can be overcome.

What’s the secret? One word: communication.

The reality is, people fear what they don’t understand. The mistake many organizations make when implementing automation is to leave employees out of the loop. Not only does this lack of communication breed fear of the unknown, but it also allows legitimate questions to go unanswered and irrational concerns to go unaddressed.

Instead, part of the planning process that happens well in advance of the new technology being implemented should include a strategy for letting employees know what’s happening, why and – most importantly – how it will actually benefit them (as opposed to ruin their lives and career.)

Some important factors to keep in mind:

  • Buy-in starts from the top and trickles down, so make sure executives and managers are on-board, positive and openly supportive of the new automation platform.
  • Keep the lines of communication open in both directions. Encourage employees to voice their concerns and ask questions and respond honestly.
  • Whenever possible, include end-users in decisions, even if it’s through polls and surveys. When people feel heard and empowered, they’re more likely to view change in a positive light.
  • Don’t just tell them the features of automation, but demonstrate how those features will benefit them. For instance, instead of saying automation will improve efficiency, show them that they will no longer have to be tied down by those boring manual tasks anymore.
  • Have a plan in place for those whose roles will be changing. In some instances, automation will inevitably result in significant changes to particular roles held by humans. If possible, offering options like upskilling, further training and other career path opportunities can ease this transition and make it a more positive one.

Of course, in order to achieve this level of open, honest and positive communication, organizational leaders must themselves have a clear understanding of what automation is and how it will impact the day to day lives of their employees. Designating a Chief Automation Officer (CAO) to spearhead training, planning and communication can be highly beneficial, both with the initial roll out as well as the ongoing utilization of the technology as it continues to evolve and improve in the future.

Want to experience automation in action? Now you can with our free 30 day trial of the Ayehu platform. Click here to download your copy today!

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

MSPs, What’s Holding You Back? Overcoming Common Barriers to Growth to Scale and Succeed

http://www.msptoday.com/topics/from-the-experts/articles/430971-msps-whats-holding-back-overcoming-common-barriers-growth.htm

Article originally published as a guest post on MSP Today.

Moving up the stack from basic IT support to a full-fledged MSP isn’t necessarily an easy transition. There will inevitably be a number of obstacles to overcome along the way. Thankfully, many have gone before and essentially paved the way for newer players to enter the field. Learning in advance what challenges you can expect and the best way to meet those challenges head on will help you avoid potential pitfalls that might otherwise become a barrier to growth. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common issues today’s MSPs struggle with.

Fear of Change

Let’s face it. Making a major change to your business model is scary. What if things don’t work out? Will you be able to recover? The reality is, however, that success requires a certain degree of risk. If your team is feeling particularly leery of making the shift to MSP and/or pursuing aggressive growth initiatives, the key will be communication. Be open, honest and transparent. Acknowledge the uncertainty many of your staff members are experiencing and take the time to address those concerns and put them to rest.

Additionally, there may also be an underlying fear that switching to managed services will result in the loss of business. Chances are very good that this will, indeed happen, as not everyone is suited for an MSP level of support. Understand, however, that while you may very well end up saying goodbye to a small portion of your customers, over time you will gain others to replace them. It’s just part of the shift.

Lack of Differentiation

Without question, the MSP field is highly saturated. The organizations that thrive are those that have found a way to stand out from the competition. This is especially critical for those just entering the marketplace. If potential clients can get the same service from an established player that they already know and trust, why would they take a chance on you? It’s up to you to convince them otherwise.

To do so, you must identify what new and better services your company can offer. For instance, if your prospects are seeking growth themselves, focus on services that help maximize efficiency and empower them to achieve those goals. If you’re unsure of what angle to take, tap into your sales team to find out what they’re hearing in the field. Or, better yet – ask your clients and prospects directly.

Underpricing

Finally, there is the challenge of how to appropriately price your services. In fact, making a switch from fixed price to a more profitable pricing model can be a difficult transition. This is often compounded by a mere lack of full understanding and a subsequent underestimation of the true value of the services you will now be providing.

At the end of the day, you want your customers to pay you what you’re worth. If you are undervaluing your services, chances are you are also underpricing yourself, which means you will not be able to achieve sustainable growth. Be honest and do your homework. Figure out what you are worth and what you will need to make in order to bring your business to the next level and then implement the necessary changes to make it happen.

Now that you’ve got a clearer picture of what may be standing in your way, it’s time to get to work turning things around. Here are a few helpful pointers, to overcome these common issues:

  • Evaluate your current business plan and strategy, as well as team member skills and abilities.
  • Utilize technology and tools, like automation, to make service delivery much more efficient.
  • Build technical credibility through key certifications and specializations.
  • Understand your pricing model to ensure that it properly supports your level of service.
  • Keep in close contact with customers to recognize and capitalize on trends and opportunities.

Making the transition from basic IT support to full-fledged managed services may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with a well thought out plan backed by a confident team and advanced technology, you will be well positioned to compete in today’s fast growing market.

How to Create an Effective Information Security Policy

How to Create an Effective Information Security Policy

The cornerstone of any good cybersecurity strategy is a formal policy with the purpose of protecting sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. It should, at the very least, reflect the overall security objectives of the organization as well as include details on the agreed-upon strategy for managing and securing company information.

Beyond this, however, figuring out what other material should be included in a policy of such high importance can be challenging. To clarify, we’ve narrowed down some of the basics of a strong, effective infosec policy.

 

Scope – List and address any and all information covered, including systems, programs, networks, data, facilities and all users within the organization.

Info Classification – Definitions that are as specific as possible. Avoid blanket terms like “restricted” or “confidential” unless they are used as part of detailed statements.

Goals – Define the objectives for secure information handling for each info classification category (i.e. regulatory, contractual, legal, etc.) Ex.: “prevent asset loss,” or “customer privacy prohibits access to customer data for anyone except authorized representatives and only for the purpose of customer communication.”

Context – Defines policy placement within the context of other managerial directives, along with supplemental documentation (i.e. “agreed upon by all parties at executive level” or “all additional information handling must be consistent with…”)

Supporting Documentation – Incorporate any relevant references to supporting documents, specifically as they apply to cybersecurity processes, roles and responsibilities, technology standards, guidelines and procedures.

Instructions – Delve into specific instructions related to already established company-wide security mandates (i.e. network/system access requires identity authentication and verification; sharing of individual authentication method is strictly prohibited; etc.)

Responsibilities – Document specific designation of established roles and responsibilities within the organization as they relate to information security (i.e. the IT department is the sole provider of telecom lines, etc.)

Consequences – Outline specific consequences for non-compliance (i.e. “up to and including termination”)

Of course, this policy is meant to be the foundation of your organizational cybersecurity strategy. Once in place, it should be supported and bolstered by implementing the right team, tools and technology. For instance, companies should ensure that IT personnel are well-versed and kept up-to-date on appropriate security measures and arm them with the tools they need, like automation, to help them do their jobs more effectively.

Don’t have the right tools and technology in place yet? The time to hunker down is now. Start your free trial of eyeShare today and make your information security strategy as strong as possible.

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