STEM Subjects – why Maths is Cool!

Maths was always my favorite subject and is at the core of STEM subjects (Science Technology, Engineering, Maths).  I was fascinated by how people used maths to solve real, practical problems.  Like the Egyptians building their pyramids, like carpenters using Pythagoras’ theorem to construct a right angle, like Marconi inventing radio – but more on that later.  In the present day it is used all around us – cryptography uses prime numbers to keep our passwords safe, social media sites use complex algorithms to figure out which video to show you next so you’ll stay glued to your screen, Spotify analyses the number of beats per minute of the music you like in order to suggest other songs you might like.

On the window of my office there is also a Mathematical formula written:  e =  -1  , which is Euler’s equation. It’s there because it’s my favourite – it’s where Mr. Euler brings a cast of super-star numbers together and then there is a big surprise ending.  The first super-star is Pi, which has a value of 3.14… and it goes on forever after the decimal point.  The second super-star is e, the exponential number which has value 2.718…. and it also goes on forever.  The third star is i, (or iota, the Greek letter for i).  It doesn’t have a decimal value as it is an imaginary number – it is the number than when multiplied by itself gives the answer -1.

Euler takes these three superstar numbers and combines them in a formula, and the answer is … wait for it…  minus one.  So, by multiplying these never-ending number and imaginary numbers, you get -1.  That is just so surprising!  And it helps calculate satellite trajectories.

Maths makes for a really cool exploring tool.  Marconi was interested in Maths and Physics, and studied the new science of electromagnetism.  While most people were trying to figure out how to generate power, Marconi was interested in the fact that the mathematical models of electromagnetic waves suggested that in theory they could be transmitted over large distances.  Marconi went on to build a transmitter and receiver that proved the mathematical models were correct – and so came the telegraph, radio, television, Wi-Fi.  It was only because the maths predicted it, that Marconi had the stubbornness to try it.

The same phenomenon happened in the past few years – back in the 1960’s a mathematical model suggested the existence of a new elementary particle, called the Higgs Boson (aka the God particle).  Because Maths showed it should exist, scientists spent the next 50 years searching for it, until in July 2012 they found it, measured in and weighed it.

Maths is also a really useful tool when embarking on a new project or business venture.  ‘Do the numbers stack up?’ is a frequent question.  When setting up Aspira back in 2007, my co-founder and I made a list of all the costs we could think of, how much money we had available, and the likelihood of generating some sales.  By putting this into a spreadsheet, it told us how long we could survive even if we made no sales (the answer was six months) and it also told us how much sales we needed to win in order to break even.  The mathematical model we built gave us the confidence to embark on the journey to set up Aspira.

Mathematicians are like explorers, on a voyage of discovery, looking off into the distance and predicting things that are far away.  But those predictions are what cause people to choose their target and set sail for new horizons.

For all your consultation (maths!) needs, please visit our website https://www.aspira.ie/contact/

Author: Pat Lucey, CEO, Aspira.

Transition in style to the new PMBOK6

In case you missed it, the PMBOK5 is changing to the PMBOK6 on the 25th March 2018. The following are the main changes:

  • There is new information on project and development lifecycles, phases and phase gates.
  • Additional key project documents are also introduced including the Business Case and the Benefits Management Plan.
  • Both the internal and external environments are explored in detail.
  • The role of the project manager is discussed in terms of The PMI Talent Triangle. The talent triangle focuses on three skill sets, namely technical project management, leadership and strategic business management.
  • Each of the knowledge areas highlights key concepts, trends and emerging practices, tailoring considerations and considerations for agile/adaptive environments. The latter reflects the increasing adoption of agile techniques in Project Management.
  • Two knowledge areas have been renamed – Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management and Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management (not just human but all resources on the project).
  • There are now 49 processes – 1 removed, 3 added and 1 moved.
  • Tools and techniques can be categorised into Data Gathering, Data Analysis, Data Representation, Decision Making, Communication and Interpersonal & Team Skills
  • The word Control has been replaced with the word Monitor in some instances where people are involved.
  • No changes in Project Scope Management & Project Cost Management
  • Project Integration Management – Manage Project Knowledge has been added which is concerned with both tacit and explicit knowledge for two purposes including using existing knowledge and creating new knowledge.
  • Project Schedule Management – Estimate Activity Resources has been moved to Project Resource Management
  • Project Quality Management – Perform Quality Assurance has been renamed to Manage Quality and many of the tools and techniques have been streamlined.
  • Project Resource Management – Since this knowledge area now focuses on all resources, the process names in this area have been changed to reflect this. They include Plan Resource Management, Estimate Activity Resources (the one that was moved from schedule), Acquire Resources, Develop Team, Manage Team and Control Resources (the one that was added).
  • Project Communication Management – Control Communication has been renamed to Manage Communication.
  • Project Risk Management – Control Risk has been renamed to Monitor Risk. Implement Risk Responses has been added. A new risk response strategy has been introduced, namely Escalate.
  • Project Procurement Management – The content has been updated to reflect global practices. Administer Procurement has been renamed to Control Procurement. Close Procurement has been removed.
  • Project Stakeholder Management – Plan Stakeholder Management has been renamed to Plan Stakeholder Engagement and Control Stakeholder Engagement has been renamed to Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.

 

Woah – quite a lot! Don’t panic we have designed a one-day transition course from PMBOK5 to PMBPOK6 with exam questions. So, email us now on training@aspira.ie or call Norma Lynch on 021-2352550 for more information and make sure you visit our training page at https://www.aspira.ie/training.

 

Author: Norma Lynch, Head of Training, Aspira.

The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

What is GDPR?

 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on the 25th May 2018. It is now vital that businesses review how they handle and manage personal data that they collect.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) outlines the rights and responsibilities that a business has when collecting, using and protecting personal data. For any business that collects personal data it puts focus on the need for transparency, security and accountability by data controllers. The regulation also gives more power to an EU citizen by:

  • Providing a “right to be forgotten”.
  • Allowing easier access to any data of theirs a business may have.
  • Requiring explicit permission whenever the business processes their data.
  • Requiring a business to inform them of any data breach within 24 hours.

The recommendation is to take a “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy by Default” approach to data to reduce potential problems with this regulation in the future.

Privacy by Design

This term is used to describe an approach to designing a system that takes privacy into account at every point of the process. It is not about protecting the data as much as it is about designing the system in such a way that the data doesn’t need protection.

Privacy by Default

This term is used to describe the idea of using the strictest privacy settings by default for a user. This will be more noticeable in areas such as social media and marketing email lists, where a business is storing or publishing additional data that is not needed to sign up to the service.

How Does this Impact your Business?

Preparing your Business

The first step is to review their data for any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) they may be storing.

Personal Identifiable Information

This term refers to data that could be used to identify, locate or contact an EU citizen. This can range from date and place of birth to financial or medical information.

It is vital that a business takes inventory of any PII within their business. This review should take into account questions such as:

  • How did you obtain the data?
  • Was the user notified that this data would be stored?
  • Is there any clearly defined reason for this data to still be stored?
  • How long do you plan to store the data?
  • Is there a retention policy on this data to ensure it removed when the retention period expires?
  • Who has access to the data?
  • Do third parties outside your business have access to this data?

Reviewing these questions with a GDPR consultant will give you an overview of the issues to be resolved.

Planning for the Future

Your business may need to have tighter controls on some data in order to avoid potential data protection issues going forward. These may include:

  • Appointing a data protection officer
  • Setting out clear processes for accessing personal data
  • Strict policies for deleting, sharing and transferring data
  • A process in place to handle data breaches

It is vital that these processes and policies are clearly defined from the outset.

Managing GDPR Going Forward

Monitoring and reporting will be integral to dealing with these changes within your business. For companies currently using SharePoint and reporting tools such as Power BI or SQL Server Reporting Services, these can be leveraged to provide your business with:

  • Effective tracking and reporting of data breaches
  • Approval workflows to manage data access requests
  • Team sites to store documentation on data policies

Microsoft have provided an Activity Hub as a starting point for this here. Consulting with a SharePoint architect who is well versed in GDPR can provide additional changes to better fit your companies needs.

GDPR is a big change for any business dealing with personal data. It is vital that you take a proactive approach to dealing with it. Investing time and effort now into the processes and policies you implement will ensure they are robust and maintainable going forward.

Author: Ian Jones, Software Developer, Aspira

 

What is SharePoint?

 

 

SharePoint is a web-based, collaborative platform that enables Businesses to improve their Business processes, increase productivity and improve teamwork between their staff. It integrates with Microsoft Office applications to provide a document management and storage system; SharePoint is highly configurable and its use varies from one business to another. Businesses generally use SharePoint to create websites. These are then used as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device, from a desktop PC, to smart phones and tablets.

SharePoint is available as a hosted service provided by Microsoft or on Premise, where the server technologies required to support SharePoint are hosted on the client’s infrastructure and maintained by the client, or a hybrid of on premise and hosted.

There are currently 3 editions of SharePoint; Foundation which is free and provides simple collaboration using team sites, blogs and apps, Standard adds to this with Intranets, portals, extranets, search, and My Site social networking and Enterprise which adds business intelligence and office integration services. To see the full list of differences between the editions, please follow this link SharePoint editions. With the release of SharePoint 2016 Foundation is no longer available. In addition to these offerings of SharePoint we also now have SharePoint Online, which is a cloud hosted service as part of Office 365, however it can be purchased as SharePoint hosted only without the Office 365 offerings should you wish. This version of SharePoint is hosted and maintained by Microsoft.

 

  • Sites in SharePoint are where you store your data. SharePoint provides several Site templates out of the box that can be used instantly, two such templates are Team sites and Publishing sites. Both have different uses and different capabilities. Team sites can be used by your teams and departments, this site template provides the ability to upload documents to a library with or without version control, monitoring of documents with check in/out, metadata and tagging facilities. Content can be targeted to specific business users with audiences. In addition, you have pre-built workflows that can be utilised straight away. Publishing Sites allow you to control when and how content is deployed to the site using content management processes. Publishing sites are used to create public websites, intranets and communication portals.

 

  • SharePoint communities enable the sharing of knowledge using Wiki’s and Wiki pages bringing people together to share and learn. Information can be shared across your enterprise. SharePoint also allows you to tag content, you can understand the content and it’s use from its tags. Users can subscribe to tags to get to the right information faster.

 

  • With SharePoint, your content is all stored in one place. Typically, organisations store data in folders in file shares, with the result, documents get lost, users then end up recreating the same document. You can manage documents, web content and records on a single platform with SharePoint. SharePoint allows document versions to be managed, apply retention policies to documents to archive or expire your document or run audit reports. Metadata can be added to a document library to better describe the content and to find it using SharePoint search. With SharePoint’s office integration, your existing working environment remains the same.

 

  • SharePoint search provides one platform to access all your information in SharePoint in addition SharePoint can also search file shares across your enterprise and Exchange mailboxes using E-Discovery and then export the results for an audit or legal case. SharePoint enhances the presentation of the results which is a combination of refinement, people and relevance. On the results page of a search you will have metadata and tags to refine your results on the left side, with the most relevant results in the middle of the page and people suggestions on the right. Tags can also be used in search queries to locate documents or people.

 

  • Visualization of data in SharePoint is accomplished using reports, charts, worksheets, dashboards, scorecard’s and KPIs. Performance Point services, Reporting Services and Power Pivot enables reporting, analysis and creation of Charts, dashboards, scorecards, KPI’s. Visio services enables rendering of diagrams and charts in the browser. Excel Services enables you to manage Excel Workbooks as interactive reports.

 

  • SharePoint compsites enable you to create business solutions by connecting and configuring the basic building blocks of functionality, this includes combining data, documents and business process in a productive useful way. SharePoint compsites enable your Power Users to build complex business processes without the need for code. SharePoint compsites can be a simple as a document approval workflow, to a BCS (Business Connectivity Services) profile page displaying external data in SharePoint with create, read, update, delete operations.

 

Aspira currently offer SharePoint Consulting, Customization, Business System Solutions and Support. Our team of experts have accomplished numerous of SharePoint projects across multiple sectors such as Banking and Finance, Construction, Healthcare and Medical devices. If you are interested in any aspects of our SharePoint offering. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation on your SharePoint project.

Author:  Paul Cuthbert, SharePoint Developer, Aspira.

Top 10 traits I most admire in a Manager

 

I have worked for a variety of managers to date and have met many more along the way!  As a result, I have experienced many traits I admire and some traits I dislike.  These are the Top ten traits that I most like in a people manager.

  1. Give credit in public – acknowledge your staff’s contribution and don’t pretend you do all the work!
  2. Promote people with potential – you should look out for the high performers and help them become the leaders of the future.
  3. Be honest about people’s performance – give constructive feedback – both negative and positive and don’t make false promises about salary increases that will never happen.
  4. Create a co-operative and collaborative environment where peers help each other rather – avoid “warring tribes” syndrome.
  5. Don’t ask your people to do something that you’re unwilling to do yourself.
  6. Be respectful towards individuals.  People respond positively when treated with dignity and respect.
  7. Take the time to build team spirit.  Hold team meetings and build in time for team members to meet each other face-to-face.  This will dramatically improve their working relationship.
  8. Be supportive when your people make mistakes.  It’s easy to be nice when everything is going well, but great managers give support to their team members when things are going wrong.
  9. Trust your team to do their job – give clear direction and review progress, but don’t disempower your staff by micromanaging their hourly activities.
  10. Build relationships – work is about more than getting the task done, it’s also about building relationships with colleagues and stakeholders.  Great managers make an effort to connect on a personal level with their team members, helping to understand what makes them tick. And if they like Bruce Springsteen then that is a great start!

How many of these traits do you already exhibit?  At Aspira we do our best to demonstrate these traits, as I believe it is a key factor in any successful company.

I find this quote really good to guide my thinking and behaviours “People do not leave a company, they leave a manager”

Author: Mary Dwyer, Operations Manager, Aspira.

BYOD Rocks! How the Joshua Tree influenced Mobile Device Management

The legendary U2 album “The Joshua Tree” celebrated its 30th Year in March this Year, twenty years before the formation of Aspira!   The Windmill Lane recording studio was used in the production of the album, which is around the corner from the new Aspira Docklands building in Dublin.   It is interesting to see the influence that this seminal work has had, both consciously and subconsciously…

 

Mobile devices in the workplace have rocked the World of many IT leaders.  It’s as if U2 played from the office rooftop ordering all the end users you support to buy as many devices as possible from the Streets With No Name and connect them to corporate services.

 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was born and employees Followed in the masse like there was No Line On The Horizon. However, it’s not all Bad.  There’s no point in Running To Stand Still or pretending it isn’t happening or saying “we don’t allow our employees do that.”

 

The truth is, it’s Out Of Control, they’re doing it already and will continue to inject noncompliant devices into your network With or Without Your permission. ONE recent Gartner survey suggested that currently, most employees are eligible to use their own equipment with employee data on board.

 

This is the Elevation of An Electrical Storm: how will you support workforce Desire to use personal apps and devices while allowing them to be productive in a secure environment that protects corporate data?   Here are eight tracks to try out:

 

  • Craft Policies, It’s Even Better Than The Real Thing.
  • Evaluate devices connecting to your network – don’t leave yourself wondering if I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
  • Authenticate devices and apply user acceptance signoff.
  • Security, corporate data protection, and compliance are shared responsibilities. There is no chance of reducing risk without cooperation. A self-service portal can help users understand why they may be out of compliance – Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  • Communicate the privacy policy to users and make it clear what data you can and cannot collect from their mobile devices
  • Isolate personal data from corporate data – North and South of the River.
  • Manage data usage on subsidized plans
  • Monitor devices continuously for compliance to policies

 

Surrender:

BYOD is an emerging best practice for giving employees the freedom to work on their own devices while relieving IT’s significant financial and management burdens. However, BYOD will never deliver on these promises of streamlined management and cost savings without a well-written policy and a robust management platform.

 

Stranger In A Strange Land:

Your business isn’t limited to your own systems. Thanks to access to cloud services we can communicate with customers, share files, collaborate, video conference and more. While these cloud services increase capabilities with good value for money, its important not to forget that every connection that reaches out from your network may open the door for someone to reach in.

 

It’s a Beautiful Day!

Aspira is celebrating its 10th anniversary in May this Year and will be announcing the opening of Aspira Docklands building beside Windmill Lane.  It’s The Sweetest Thing!

 

Author:  Luca Santos, Aspira IT Operations

Data Storage, Encryption & Backup Services

Your data is the lifeblood of your business. Regardless of industry, data is the key ingredient for  your business’s strategy, marketing, financial analysis and more; in all likelihood your business has invested heavily in information and technical architecture to optimise your data management.

Therefore, any IT manager or CIO can appreciate the absolute necessity for stable and secure data storage, encryption and backup services. To lose access to your data – even temporarily, can have huge costs both in financial terms and in terms of the company’s reputation. And, in this age of instant broadcast via social media, any perceived loss of customer or billing data, any operational hiccups, or worse –  any compromise on the security of the data –  would be a PR nightmare to manage for any company.

Not all storage and security services are the same. It is essential that you entrust your data to a source that has the capability to deliver real business value by understanding the stakes and the business maturity to protect your brand and market share while ensuring the highest calibre service for your operational efficiency.

Aspira has the breadth of infrastructure, the technical expertise and the ability to offer true scalability for Enterprise grade data storage, encryption and backup services.

Aspira ensures you remain fully compliant with European data protection legislation with our advanced data storage and encryption methodologies, so you don’t need to constantly keep abreast of changing regulations. All the hassle is outsourced to us.

We offer total end-to-end encryption using a first-rate industry algorithms and the highest level SSL standard providing total protection and security across the data lifecycle. You can be confident in your data encryption security even while that data is in transit.

Where Aspira truly adds value is in our ability to deliver your precise set of requirements. Our security analysts and data architects will work with you to identify the optimum design for your business.

We will work with you to:

  • Specify your required data location
  • 30 days, month, quarter, annual data retention requirements
  • Identify key European data protection regulations that may specifically impact you apart from the top level directives.
  • Provide the right level of encryption for your business’s data.
  • Define your data storage requirements in terms of volume and the frequency of data transfer.
  • Scale the solution to your budget and your needs, both currently and including your forecasted growth.
  • Enable your own unique customised encryption key.
  • Provide online and offline data access supported across multiple clients.
  • Determine the required identity management and user role configuration specific to you
  • Activate and provide audit logs for full traceability on CRUD changes or backup restores.
  • Configure your required backup schedule.

…and much more.

 

Aspira delivers time and again our customised, streamlined Enterprise grade data storage, encryption and backup service, which has proven it itself and its value time after time as a true safety net for businesses across all sectors.

Contact Aspira today to discuss your particular set of requirements and see what benefits our service can deliver for you.

IT Estate by Design

The reality of business means that companies often either begin with less-than-optimal solution and system architectures as they face financial pressures, inherit end-of-life or entirely customised systems through business acquisitions and mergers, or, as often happens, the goals and business model changes as the company grows and the architecture that once enabled is now constraining.

Greenfield sites (such as start-ups and young enterprises) can save considerable time, effort and cost over the long run by investing in Aspira’s Systems Architecture Design Service and implementing the right architecture from the ground up. Brownfield sites (such as businesses with an architectural estate already built) can also benefit by availing of Aspira’s Systems Architecture Design Service when the time comes to implement new or upgrade existing systems, or to plan a parallel architecture and data migration.

“Delivering advanced architectural excellence requires a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals.”

Tangible benefits include a reduction in hardware redundancy, the retirement of appropriate hardware, identification of opportunities to move to cloud or virtual hosting as well as selection of the best fit COTS applications or PAAS (Platform as a service) solutions – all leading to a tighter and more streamlined IT stack.

When it comes to application architecture, the business architecture and the data architecture of an enterprise must be factored in before the application architecture can be successfully completed. Aspira works with clients to develop a target application architecture that realises the business architecture and the architecture vision.

During Aspira’s System Architecture Design Service, we can:
• Develop baseline business, data and application architecture descriptions
• Perform gap analysis
• Define Roadmap components
• Review Application Interoperability
• Apply your or create new Application Principles
• Create or apply your System Governance Model
• Confirm readiness and risk for business transformation
• Formulate Implementation and Migration Strategy
• Identify the Transition Architecture (if required)
• Guide you on Service Level Agreements
• Update your Architecture Vision/Roadmap

Aspira understands that companies today need system architecture that has a low cost of ownership, a fast return on investment, is flexible, modular and with a focus on configuration and not customization (to keep costs down). Not only this but the systems themselves must do more than meet current needs – it must be scaled for growth, performance, changing business requirements and meet company KPIs.

Delivering advanced architectural excellence requires a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Aspira’s team of architects have experience across a diverse range of industry sectors including healthcare, human resources, insurance and telecoms. Your entire stack can be optimally designed and delivered using Microsoft and other technologies, depending on your needs.

Whether you have your development teams in-house or outsourced, whether your stack is in your own data centre or you are using SAAS or simply are starting out from scratch, click here and talk to us today about how we can transform or create your IT estate.]

Building a Solid Foundation for your New SharePoint Farm

Building a Solid Foundation for your New SharePoint Farm
SharePoint can be a powerful tool for any business. With on premises, Office 365 and hybrid options available, now is a great time to look into implementing this in your organisation. However, if you don’t start off on the right foot you can wind up in the all too common position of spending time and money on a system that your employees fail to see the value in. Here are 5 points to help avoid this:

Take the Time to Plan
The root cause of any failed or underwhelming SharePoint implementation generally stems from one place; a failure to take the necessary time to plan. This mistake is usually a result of budget limitations and time constraints. The focus is too often on getting SharePoint implemented as quickly and cheaply as possible. However, this approach will usually result in poor user adoption. This point is crucial as it greatly reduces the complexity of the following steps.

Don’t Deploy and Walk Away
With how easy a basic SharePoint install is now, there can be a temptation to take the out of the box setup and leave it at that. This is never a good idea. The business needs will change over time and require SharePoint to change with it. Even with a small, well planned solution, SharePoint will still require care and attention when given to the end user to ensure they can get the best of the features provided.

Start Small
SharePoint can be an extremely useful tool in many different ways. It can be used to help collaboration between team members, provide workflows for common tasks and processes, manage and control content and provide powerful Business Intelligence and Project Management tools. All of this can be customised to suit exactly what a business needs. However, all of these advantages can quickly cause headaches when not properly managed. Your focus in the beginning should be a solution that is small, simple and allows team members to see the benefit or the system. Don’t try to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them right away, expand after team members have a basic understanding and feel comfortable with it.

Training
Poor training for a new system results in poor user adoption for that system. That is a fact. If the first experience a user has is one of confusion and there’s no clear reference to reduce this confusion, they will resent the system. They may be able to use the system, but not to its full potential. There are three main points to prevent this:
1. Organise small training sessions of no more than 15 people per session. Keep the sessions under two hours.
2. Create short videos for the main features of the site and share these with users.
3. Provide a digital manual and share this with the users.
This may seem like overkill but it allows users a choice of how they learn about the system, letting them choose the one they prefer and ultimately being more willing to accept the system.

SharePoint Team Leads
Having an enthusiastic member in each team to act as a power user in your SharePoint solution is a useful way to ensure your transition to SharePoint runs smoothly. Giving these users one to one training and having them act almost as administrators for the system will prevent frequent repeated questions to the IT department as well provide a certain amount of visibility into the system. With these users included in the process people will be more understanding if you run into issues implementing the system. Without this your users can quickly change from supportive to disinterested in the solution.
SharePoint is the ultimate example of getting back what you put in. Rushed setups will leave users with a negative image that you will struggle to recover from. But, through clear planning, a willingness to listen to your users and communicate with them effectively you can provide a very effective tool for your organisation.

For more information on SharePoint solutions and other services Aspira provide, you can contact a member on the team on: info@aspira.ie

IT Support Services – do we need them?

IT is now a crucial part of the modern day business. The various systems are relied upon for almost every important business function, and the seriousness of the requirement for an IT support service can sometimes be overlooked. There are many businesses who have a disaster recovery plan in place, which outlines the steps they will take if they are ever to be disrupted by a failure. Even the smallest of IT failures can have exceptionally large costs to a company. Whether it is a phone line, website, payment systems, company database or other – technology is deeply rooted within most businesses and its daily availability is an absolute priority for most companies.

There are still some businesses who have not yet fully adopted technology within to their company, or some which are using old technologies, instead of taking advantage of the latest advancements. These behaviours can often lead to a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. If we take into consideration, only the factors mentioned above, it quickly becomes apparent why having IT support services for your business is a critical element for success.

The True Impact of Downtime

Whether you choose to have IT support services in-house, or you elect to outsource the job to a reputable company. Having good technical support, that understands both your business and your systems is key. There is nothing more frustrating than a computer, or a system that will not work correctly. It can slow down individuals in their day to day roles, it can affect customers and in some cases, put them off doing business with you, it can lose a company money, and it take valuable, paid time away from people who are being paid to do a specific job.

Any unplanned outage or downtime is costly. However, if we are talking about mission critical systems, then a company will have already invested a lot of money into this area of the business, to ensure optimum results. Despite these investments and the advances which we have seen in recent years regarding infrastructure reliability, some business still have to deal with software or hardware shutting down intermittently or for prolonged periods. The reality is that IT failures are expected. Addresses and assessing the landscape and planning on what to do if, is why having a competent, and skilled IT support services function is crucial.

Loss of Reputation and Employee Productivity

It is not easy to work out, or even assess how much a company reputation is worth. As aforementioned, downtime can affect the revenue of a business, and also, be costly in terms of clients, both in the short and in the long-term. People can often be pulled away from their day-to-day duties when there is something of more importance to deal with, this can also impact client services and beyond.

A period of downtime can range from a few hours to a whole week, maybe more. Over this time, employee productivity may be affected, this is measured in wages, and also, in terms of the lost benefits those employees would have added, should they have been normal and active in their roles. If a core system or database is lost, credit controllers cannot collect, sales people cannot take orders and so on.

IT Support is CRUCIAL

While there are many different types of support available to companies, you have a choice to hire a team to work within your business, directly for you. Alternatively, you can outsource this to a managed service provider or IT consultancy firm. Both are great options; it will depend on the size of your business, the number of staff, the amount of different systems you are using to support your business along with other elements – so each business will have completely different requirements that need to be addressed and guaranteed. Choosing the right option for your business is crucial, it could come down to cost, or service guarantees, depending upon your individual needs. Most small businesses cannot afford the expense of hiring a skilled professional, full time, just in case something goes wrong, this is why a lot of small companies will tend to outsource, or contract in their IT support.

Having an IT support function or structure in place for your company brings about many different benefits, not only does it give you peace of mind, that if something were to go wrong, you have an expert, immediately available to investigate and work on a resolution. It immediately gives you the resources you need to be able to deal efficiently with a mission critical issue that may have arisen. You have skilled professionals at your disposal, who are experts in their field.

Most external companies will be used to working with different IT requirements; they will also have access to people who are specifically skilled in the areas you need. Additionally, they are able to offer a range of different packages to suit your needs such as 24-hour availability, along with other service level agreements which may be of importance to your company.

Whichever way you look at it, IT is essential to almost every business. Whether it be an internationally enterprise or just a one-man consultancy, having your technology working for you, is far better than having to deal with systems and hardware that is faulty outdated or broken.

The other element of IT support services which can be overlooked is the ongoing maintenance and updates that are required to both hardware and software products. Vendors or manufacturers will often release updates which need to be installed and acted upon instantly. IT support are able to deal with these communications and perform any associated updates, quickly This will ensure that the business is not vulnerable to any kind of cyber threat, or attack. We have all experienced or heard about these events in the press, and they can be exceptionally costly, especially when it comes to handling sensitive customer data, and the reputation of the company.