The 3 Most Important Services to Look for in a Managed IT Company.

Call it a sign of the times. A cultural phenomenon. Generation Y’s need for instant gratification. There are many phrases that could describe why more and more companies are outsourcing their IT departments. The basic facts remain that outsourcing offers more (combined) experience, better response times, and cutting edge solutions at a fraction of the cost of a singular or on-site team of IT pros. I recently sat down with Phillip, the Lead Tech for PSS Enterprises, a new, up & coming Managed IT company based out of Denton, Texas. We discussed what we think are the 3 most important services you should expect from an outsourced IT company.

Remote Technical Support- This is the ability for a service tech to log into your computer from any location you are at to assist you. Phillip explains that his company has clients all over the U.S. No matter where his client may be, he has the ability to log into the machine, whether it is a laptop, PC, or server, to assist them from his office in Denton, TX. This cuts travel time, increases response time, and ultimately decreases productivity downtime. If your IT department cannot assist you no matter where you are, you might want to look a little closer at what they can do for you.

Innovative Solutions- Often times a managed IT company has certain services that they offer to the customer in tiers. Tier one will be simple support, like installing the new fax machine, or troubleshooting email issues. Tier two will be more complex, like integrating new software on an existing server. Tier three are major tasks, like setting and configuring networks, mass data integration, or new operating systems. These tidy packages often outline the services you can expect, and often the consumer is unaware of all the other IT related services they are missing out on. Phillip tells me that PSS Enterprises doesn’t offer tier services because it limits what he can do for his customers, so they offer “Power-Paks”. These “Power-Paks” are bundled hours of service based on quantities of time. This means that any IT issue that PSS Enterprises client has, no matter the size, it is encompassed in the “Power-Pak”.

Shared Vision- This is a unique term to describe what Phillip calls, a “visionary relationship” with his clients. Phillip explains to me that when a new or potential client approaches PSS Enterprises with technical issues, they will assist and resolve whatever the pressing IT issue is, but then take the time after the resolution to get to know the client and their business better. Often meeting with the owner, Phillip and his team take the time to get to know the client business inside and out. “PSS Enterprises prides itself in their ability to incorporate cutting edge technology solutions that increases or exceeds the speed in which their client can reach their goals.” He also states that many companies just don’t know what is out on the market today and is often skeptical of a “internet answer” to a technolgy issue. Phillip tells me that often PSS Enterprises’ clients are searching for a quick fix to a technical issue, and after working with them, come out with a completely customized solution. PSS Enterprises partners with several trustworthy software, hardware, and unified communication companies to offer a wide range of solutions to their arsenal.

Overall, when looking for an outsourced technical support company, look carefully at all the company has to offer. Check to see what is considered “in-scope” or “out-of-scope”, read the service level agreement carefully, and ask lots of questions. You will be able to tell shortly if that IT company will suit your needs or not. Keep in mind that it is often the little extras that make the relationship with your IT company worthwhile. Do they have your companies best interest as a priority or are you just another ticket in their holding que? Be a wise and informed consumer, and you will get more bang for your buck when it comes to IT services.

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5 Ways to Stretch Your Business Budget

Times are tough. One cannot turn to a single media outlet and not see it in the news, on the ticker, or on the radio. To an outsider, they might think that we are obsessed with how bad things are. Today for example, every media outlet has notified all Americans that there are at least 600,000 Americans without jobs today. That is a lot of people. But what are we doing about it? President Obama is rolling out a $800 Billion stimulus package. (Don’t worry, our kids will thank us for their massive debt..)

As a business owner or even as a manager, we must take a pro-active stance on this economic downturn. People are worried about losing their jobs daily. Are you taking all necessary precautions to avoid “downsizing”? Here are some tips on how to get more bang for your buck.

1. Trim the Fat
Take a close look at your spending and expenses? It helps to classify each one (if you aren’t already, you need to start now) by category. Then take each category and break it down. For example, “Office Supplies”. We are all familiar with this broad category. Looking at your ” Office Supply” purchases for the last three months, you need to ask yourself these questions:
Who is requesting office supplies?
Is it warranted?
Are these supplies necessary to operate our facility?
If these supplies are necessary, can we save by buying in bulk one time every three months, instead of monthly purchases?
Once you have a better perspective, you must act quickly and effectively on your analysis. Whether it is not buying name brand products, or cutting out the “condiments” for coffee, or just buying in bulk, you must act on it.

2. Re-evaluate Your Vendors
Where do you spend the bulk of your money? If you sell products, raw goods, or finished goods, then you are paying someone something. A fabrication company is paying for tooling, the retailer and the restaurant owner are paying suppliers. Are you getting the best possible price for the products or services your are buying? When is the last time you checked? If you let your salesperson know that you are checking out their competitors, it will light a fire under them, and if it doesn’t, that is your first red flag.

3. Outsource When Possible
Ask any business owner what their biggest hit on the bottom line is. 90% of the time you will hear employee pay. Whether you are growing or reducing, outsourcing is a great way to take the sting off of the bottom line. The company that hires a mid-level IT professional will spend around $60,000 a year on the salary. Let’s add insurance and 401K matching. Now you are looking at spending $75,000 for the same employee. Now lets say that your IT pro is efficient and keeps your ship running smoothly so that he doesn’t have to bust his hump everyday working on tech stuff. So let’s look at the big picture- $75,000 a year for an employee who may or may not have to work everyday to keep things running. If you outsourced your IT department, you would be spending a fraction of this. Even to say 25% of $75,000 would be a substantial amount of work for an IT firm, even if you were paying them by the hour.

4. Look at Energy Resources
Green is big, and getting bigger. When we were kids, there was only one place to get electricity from and that was the local co-op. Now you have literally dozens of companies to choose from. Doing the legwork to research all of these companies to find out what their rates and benefits are can be the worse part about this process. The best part is you are probably going to find out that you are spending too much and have an opportunity to save. (That is what we are trying to do, save money, right?) Be careful when searching online though, there are a lot of “energy brokers” out there who have already done the homework and want to charge you to tell you what they think is the best option for you. Often times these “energy brokers” are employed by certain energy companies or they are paid affiliates. Go to each company site, write down the 800 number, and call yourself. Only you know what your needs are and who can fill them.

5. Network
One way to save money is to trim the marketing budget. Do you ever feel like you are rolling the dice with the new marketing campaign? What if you get absolutely no business from the commercial you spent thousands and thousands of dollars on? How is the ROI looking then? One way to gain exposure and web presence is to do a little free self marketing. Make sure you are listed in every yellow page, white page, super page, and directory out there. There are a lot of them and a majority of them are free. Then start a blog, touting your professional knowledge, and sharing with the world that you know your stuff. Do some research on the best adwords for your business, and incorporate them in your content. Get connected to other professionals in groups like Linkedin. There are a lot of companies out there that do this type of work, so you could technically outsource it if your time is more valuable spent elsewhere, but it is not that hard to get started. It is just the keeping on going that gets a little rough. But you can do it.

We are going to make it through this rough patch. My grandfather was a rancher, and there would be times when there would be months without rain, but I never saw him worry. He would always tell me that it has to rain sometime, it’s just sometimes later that what we want. We will feel the relief from this financial stretch sometime, but just like the rain, it will come in due time. But in the meantime, do the little things that you can to make your dollar stretch farther.

PSS Enterprises

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