“Proactive” – It’s a word you’ve most likely heard before from your IT Service provider. It’s bounced around repeatedly by Managed Service Provider (MSP’s) when they reference how they handle your Cybersecurity, Network, and even your Cloud Storage.
The truth is most are not exercising the word “proactive” in its entirety. While they may have the best intentions in mind, they’re creating an illusion of the term. Whether they mean to or not, they’re misleading you into thinking you’re fully covered, when you most likely aren’t.
So, let’s start over by introducing the full meaning of the term Proactive as it relates to IT Management.
Proactive IT Service is the continuous process of review and alignment of IT systems to a defined set of industry standards and best practices. When aligned properly, it leads to:
- Better Security
- Fewer Issues
- Lower Risk & Elimination of Unknowns
- Optimal Performance of an IT Network
The key term in this definition is continuous process. Without a defined proactive process, dedicated resources for proactive tasks and detailed reporting – there is no “proactive” process. If these vital elements are not in place, then proactive tasks will perpetually remain at the bottom of a “to-do list” – and, at best, considered only after all your other “IT fires are put out”.
Most I.T. Providers think that the services they provide are “proactive” and may unintentionally mislead you to believing this as well.
Here are some ways that I.T. Providers make you think they’re being “Proactive”
- They use “proactive” tools like an IT monitor. IT monitors are not “proactive” as they can only alert you AFTER something has already gone wrong.
- They do “proactive” maintenance such as patching and system updates. Patching and system updates are an absolute necessity for any computer system to work just like gas is a necessity for your car to run. These necessary tasks cannot be considered proactive.
- A ticketing system. This is a great tool for tracking and managing IT issues, but by itself does not have any “proactive” functionality.
- A “proactive” report showing basic network activity (i.e. the number of helpdesk tickets, number of viruses caught, server uptime, server storage, etc.). This basic report is typically auto generated by a provider’s IT management software, and although it provides some useful information, it’s just a lagging index report showing you what happened last month.
- On-site visits. If a technician comes to your office to pick up the laundry list of IT issues or just walks around to install patches and system updates (aka basic maintenance), then there’s really nothing “proactive” happening on site.
Why should you care about having a “proactive” IT service?
You might be thinking that a “proactive” service may be expensive or isn’t an absolute necessity for your type of business. Regardless of what business you are in, without a “proactive” approach you assume the risk of dealing with a disastrous chain reaction of events that could shut any business down for good.
People costs: Today, with most businesses having over 90% of their workforce working on a computer for most of their day, IT is the critical factor that directly affects a business’ return on their biggest expense – their people. Ignoring the performance of IT systems is like ignoring how many breaks your people are taking in a day. And conversely, focusing on IT performance improvement can lead to major percentage gains in people productivity, thus buying the business more leverage with their workforce. Optimal IT performance is only accomplished through ongoing proactive measurement and review of IT systems and has almost nothing to do with how quickly IT fires are put out.
Security: Just like the check-in process at airports has changed dramatically over the years, so has the Cybersecurity landscape with IT systems. Every business has a firewall and antivirus yet every day, we hear of breaches and ransom attacks hitting businesses of all sizes. It’s because Cybercriminals prey on systems that have vulnerabilities – many times resulting because there is no process for checking and ensuring all systems are up to date and properly locked down. Cybercrime is a huge lucrative business and the number of attacks and attackers are growing every day. Did you know that 43% of cyber-attacks target SMBs? Only 14% of them rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective, and 60% go out of business within only six months the attack. Cybercriminals are hoping you are taking a “set it and forget it” approach to your IT systems. If your business is reliant on IT systems, your data is sensitive or a security event would be damaging to your business’ reputation, then you should ensure that you have a true proactive approach to managing your systems.
Ask yourself these questions below to see if you’re being managed in a truly “proactive” way. If you’re starting to doubt yourself, then maybe it’s time to reconsider all your options or even go back to the drawing board with your IT.
- Do we have a set of IT related KPI’s that are measured and reported/interpreted to us?
- Do we have a process for identifying recurring issues and eliminating them?
- If a disgruntled employee took a flame thrower to our servers, do we know what the process and timeline would be to get our business back up and running?
- Outside of having a firewall and antivirus, is there a process that is followed and reported to us to ensure we are truly secure?
- Do we regularly receive updated network documentation?
- Is our network regularly reviewed and is a report with risk/deficiencies provided?
- Do we have a process for measuring our systems against industry standards and shown specifically where we are not in line?