Your Business Needs IT Management, Not Just  Break/Fix

What is the importance of having good customer service management? To any business worth its name, the answer should be obvious. After all, customers are the fuel that keeps the profit-machine of the organization up and running. And just as low-quality fuel can end up damaging an engine, so too can unsatisfied customers bring the entire sales system of your company to a screeching halt. Let’s consider why.

Importance of Customers to Any Business

At first glance, it may seem as though the products or services being offered by an organization are what will have the most direct impact on that organization’s success. However, even the best products are unable to actually purchase themselves. If the organization is unable to communicate the value of its products or services to potential clients, then even the best offerings become little more than unrealized potential.

As such, the company-client relationship is possibly the single most important factor at play in determining business success. A company must establish a healthy relationship with the customer so that he will not only be content with the product, but will also be interested enough to be willing to share his experiences with his friends, family, and colleagues. Because of this, the best performing organizations are beginning to step back and reevaluate the importance of strengthening the customer relationship. In fact, nearly 60% of high-performing teams are increasing the size of their service teams in the next 12–18 months. But in addition to simply hiring more bodies and pointing them in the direction of the problem, a more efficient method has been developed, in the form of customer service management.

Nearly 60% of high-performing teams are increasing the size of their service teams in the next 12–18 months.

Customer Service Management

Margaret Rouse has posted on TechTarget.com that "Customer relationship (service) management, or CRM, is a term that refers to practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention, and driving sales growth." In essence, customer service management is any tool or technique used to gather customer data, and to provide a better user client experience. This means that customer service management can take many different forms, but that it all has one very simple goal: to make the customer happy. But how does it do that?

How Customer Service Management Impacts Business

Although there are many different ways that customer service management can improve company-client relationship, we’ve identified five specific features that have the most dramatic impact:

    1. It provides more accurate customer data. In order for a company to assess itself, it must first gather data applicable to the issue at hand. Without data, self-analysis becomes mere guesswork. By providing accurate, actionable information regarding customer preferences, purchase history, and other details, customer service management lays a groundwork on which targeted campaigns can be implemented. Thanks to this kind of near-prescient understanding of clients, 55% of high-performing service teams say they’re able to predict customer service needs more than 80% of the time.

55% of high-performing service teams say they’re able to predict customer service needs more than 80% of the time

  1. It assists in the organization of customer data. Although many organizations focus on acquiring actionable data, there are many who fail because they don’t take the necessary steps in order to properly organize it for future reference. Quality customer service management systems not only collect data, but they ensure that the data is easily accessible when needed, and that no information is ever allowed to simply ‘fall through the cracks.’
  2. It improves the inter-company communication. When there are multiple individuals, teams, or even departments all working towards the sale customer-satisfaction goals, there is a tendency for each group to keep their own files and information on their own systems. Unfortunately, this may lead to compatibility issues, as well as organizational problems, resulting in wasted effort, lost time, and displeased customers. Customer service management provides a single, unified platform from which every person involved can draw the data they need.
  3. It promotes better customer support and, consequently, quicker problem resolution. Having a common platform usable by everyone involved in the customer-satisfaction process provides further benefits, in that it helps to eliminate unproductive "bouncing around" between customer service representatives—an experience that has a tendency to quickly alienate otherwise valuable customers. In other words, things can get resolved quicker and more efficiently, which is something that every customer can appreciate.
  4. It decreases the need for time-consuming tasks. Remember, time is money, and the more time required on a project, the more money will be spent on seeing it to its completion. Through the above-mentioned features, customer service management increases customer-service efficiency by a substantial margin, and as a result, has a dramatic impact on the overall bottom line.

Technology management is a term that is used to refer to a group of services offered to a business that may not have its own IT department. The process can include project management, technology planning, database services, disaster recovery, security, document services, document formatting, e-billing, mailing, mass printing, and much more. Here is some more information I have prepared on this topic. It should help you gain a better understanding of technology management.

Why Do You Need Technolgy Management Services?

The break and fix approach may seem like a good way to save money, but it is going to cost you. Such neglect will eventually lead to a major tech disaster in the future. Such disasters could take the form of tech failure or even a major security breach. Such breaches can lead to class action suits if critical information is lost.

However, having to hire an in-house team may not work either. The inflated costs on the payroll are not worth it for most business owners. When you outsource technology management, the IT infrastructure will receive the care of experts. Best of all, it does not cost an arm and a leg. Additionally, your business will get the full benefit of an experienced team of experts instead of just a few IT experts working in-house. Some of the benefits are:

  • Proactive Management.

With technology management, you do not wait for technology to fail before fixing it. A technology management company will review your equipment often and make upgrades as they may be deemed necessary. Such a company will also ensure that you work with only the best antivirus and malware protection.

  • Better Network Administration.

A good technology management company does not just hire fresh college graduates. People that work for such companies usually have years of experience under their belts. They know how to tweak each system to fit into a unique business environment. That way, a company is able to maximize its output. The result is that you will be getting more value for the salaries you pay your employees.

  • Automated Monitoring.

A good company will have hundreds of system monitors that will allow them to take proactive measures to deal with any problem. That way, a company does not have to deal with an aftermath of a disaster.

  • Technology Consultancy.

All companies have technology needs that continue to grow as the company grows. However, it is not always easy to know what you need unless you have an expert as part of your staff. A technology management company will give you the advice that you need to choose the right technology. That way, you will always have an edge over your competition in terms of technology utilization.

  • Real Time User Support.

When you hire a technology management firm, it will not be much different to hiring in-house staff in regards to response time. Most of them can have an engineer at your office in minutes when you need a technical expert to solve an issue. Such an expert will give all the options you have and make a recommendation on which you should choose.

Some of the Cloud Service solutions you can expect.

Most business today use cloud services. A technology management can help you with these services if you use the cloud:

  • Spam Protection.

A major downside of the cloud is spam. It takes up valuable space in the cloud. A good tech management company will provide you with solutions that prevent unwanted messages from ever reaching the inbox.

  • Data Backups.

Data backup is another important service that you will get as part of the cloud-based solutions. By offering cloud-based backups, you will get the peace of mind that you need to run your business. You will no longer have to worry about losing backup tapes or the tapes were stolen.

What Types of Companies Need Technology Management?

All businesses, no matter how big or small, need some IT support to operate efficiently in the modern world. Such support can be useful in helping them to avert major disasters to their business operations.

However, different industries will have differing needs. Thus, not everyone wants the same kind of IT support. There is no one-size-fits-all that can work for all businesses. Some of the businesses that may need Technology management are:

  • The Financial Sector.

A good tech management firm will provide you with a clear understanding of the current state of your systems. They will identify the vulnerabilities, risks, and prioritize the issues that are discovered. Additionally, they can also help you identify what has been changed since the last audit took place.

  • Manufacturing.

Most people think of the manufacturing sector as the huge processing plants and large warehouses. However, these companies have office buildings that allow them to process the paperwork. If the back office operations are not efficient, an office could lose a lot of money. A technology management firm will help you keep an eye on the IT systems to ensure that they are always working well. That way, a company can focus on its core duty of manufacturing.

  • Professional Service Industry.

Downtime is more than just annoying to customers. It can have a huge impact on the profitability of a company. Instead of waiting for equipment to break down, the company will often conduct assessments at regular intervals to prevent downtime. Less downtime will mean that employees have more time to work on their projects. Additionally, it will help to keep your customers happy.

  • Non-Profits Operations.

Cyber security must be the priority of every business. There is a lot of malware being created all the time. A breach to a company’s network can have a crippling effect on its finances. The effects can be worse for non-profits since they rely on donors. If donors feel that you are not taking care of their money, they will simply move on. A good technology management company will help to ward off any criminals that may want to reap where they never sowed.

 

So much of business these days is connected to technology that at this point, it’s almost better to ask, “What isn’t IT management?”

Employees access your company network via your organization’s computers. Customers find your business’s information on your website. Clients, potential new hires, and visitors to the office need guest access to the internet. Hackers and cyber criminals must be kept at bay. The printer is, as always, jammed.

 

The people who deal with these issues are programmers, developers, engineers, technicians, systems analysts, support specialists, project managers, and designers.

And what pulls all of this equipment, these processes, and these various types of employees together?

IT management, that’s what.

You might think that because you have an IT department—or, if you’re a smaller business, one IT person—that your organization’s IT management is taken care of.

But IT management is more than just hiring someone to take care of all things IT.

So what is IT management, really?

The simple answer is that IT management is managing anything related to IT or tech at your organization.

The more complicated (and better) answer, is that IT management has several components, all of which relate to aligning IT objectives with business objectives in a way that creates the most value for your company.

Below, we’ll discuss the three components of IT management.

1. IT strategy

The first component of IT management is the most important because it involves connecting your IT department with your business’s needs.

Having an IT strategy means, at its core, having a plan to deal with both good and bad scenarios as they relate to IT.

For example, if your company expands and hires more employees, your IT department needs to figure out how to manage increased activity on your network. Or if your company is the target of a cyber attack, tech will need directives for recovering lost or compromised information.

An effective IT strategy should do the following:

  • Support business operations by considering your organization’s overall goals and making sure your IT department can support and further those goals. That also means considering the business aspects of your IT department such as creating a workable budget and communicating with leaders in other departments to get a holistic view of your organization’s needs.
  • Secure your company’s and your customers’ information by developing a plan to protect it and staying up to date on the latest security strategies.
  • Provide value to the company by delivering reliable IT service and creating a framework for the IT department’s own plans for improvement as your organization grows and develops.

2. IT service

Providing value through quality IT service isn’t as simple as promising that your tech team will do a good job. It means creating service goals and standards and doing everything you can to make sure your team lives up to them.

Delivering top-notch IT service involves a two-pronged view of the people consuming those services:

  • Customers need to know their data won’t be compromised by faulty security systems. But on a more day-to-day level, they need access to your company’s website. Clients visiting your office might need access to your internet connection. And they need a system where they can report any tech-related issues they might encounter.

3. IT assets

Finally, you need to manage all of the assets employees use to get their work done. That means managing not only who gets which laptop but also when and how your systems are updated.

Keep track of your stuff so you don’t have to resort to threats

IT assets include:

  • Hardware. This is what you typically think of when discussing assets. Managing hardware includes keeping track of who uses which assets, tracking wear and tear, and ordering new equipment if and when you need it.
  • Software. Don’t forget that software is also an IT asset. Who uses which systems? When do your licenses expire? Do you need to connect one or more solutions? Is your tech team responsible for fixing a buggy proprietary system? You should be able to answer all of these questions if you’re properly managing your assets.

How can IT management help your business?

As we’ve discussed, the whole point of IT management is to align tech and business goals, thereby creating value through the best, most efficient use of your organization’s technology assets.

Basically, if you don’t have an IT management strategy in place, you’re probably actually harming your business.

As I’ve already mentioned, pretty much everything in your business is connected to technology in some way. Not having a plan for how you manage that technology is like not putting gas in your car. It’s just not going to run.

Just think about it: How do your employees get work done? Typically by using a company-provided device, accessing the internet via their business’s network. And how do your customers find your information or order your products and services? Via your website.

But if common sense isn’t enough to go on, let’s get into two concrete ways IT management can improve your company.

1. It can save you money

Creating an overall IT strategy forces your IT department to prioritize goals and issues that are important to your business as a whole. That means that you’ll have a better idea of which IT projects need or deserve more funding or support, so you can allocate more of your budget to those efforts.

Providing quality IT service means your employees are less likely to lose time or money due to tech issues such as a downed network. Your customers will become repeat customers because they had a great experience with your eCommerce site. You’re doing everything you can to protect company and customer data so you can avoid the financial toll of a cyber attack.

Managing all your IT assets efficiently means you’re putting all your hardware to good use, avoiding equipment purchases you don’t actually need. It means you can easily ensure that all of your software is up to date, which also helps your company avoid expensive cyber attacks. Basically, it means you’re using everything to its full potential, wasting as little as possible.

2. It can save you time

If everything goes well for your organization, it will expand. You’ll add more employees to your payroll, more clients to your Rolodex, and more money to your budget.

And while that’s great for your business, it will create problems for your tech team. As your company grows, your tech environment will grow more complicated. You’ll need to monitor more devices on your network, add requested features to your site to improve the user experience, and become doubly vigilant in protecting your growing cache of data.

By creating a plan for everything involving IT, your team won’t have to scramble at the last minute to deal with tech-related issues that arise. They can take a measured, efficient approach to solving problems because they’ve spent time thinking about how to deal with them beforehand.

For example, you know your employees will experience some tech issues. So your tech team decides to invest in a help desk solution where employees can submit tickets to them directly, as soon as problems occur. While it might take some time to test and implement that help desk, it ensures that small tech problems won’t become big ones and helps to avoid catastrophic events that require more effort to repair.

Your tech team can avoid these types of situations if they follow your IT management strategies

Plus, planning for problems beforehand means you’ll have best practices in place. That means your team can use proven, reliable solutions to repair issues. And that means they won’t be creating future problems by resorting to quick fixes and buggy methods.

And saving time on complicated IT projects and repairs goes hand in hand with the first benefit we discussed: it also saves you money.

As noted earlier, there are several electronic asset management systems (146 in this list by Capterra), that your organization could compare and select, but you would also need some criteria to guide your decision. Some ideas include:

  • Types of assets you need to gather info about
    • Hardware & Software
    • Network & Communications infrastructure, servers, & applications
    • Mobile devices
    • Critical Enterprise Documentation
    • CCTV, Alarm Systems
    • Telephone circuits
    • Facilities equipment for IT Services (HVAC, Generators, Batteries)
  • Consider the metadata to collect
    • Vendors, carriers, service providers, locations, licensing, firmware, purchase & disposal info
  • Reporting requirements
    • Equipment upgrades or change out plans, issue resolution
    • Integration with other sources (help desk, document management, financial, network support applications)
    • Development of IT & business strategies or operational plans
    • Reduce negative impacts to productivity with access to pre-approved software and silent installs

Getting the most return from your IT investment starts with a clear view of all your hardware and software assets. The software you select should help you gain visibility, compliance, and control of your IT assets to reveal the true value they deliver.

The enterprise software must help maximize value of expensive and complex assets. In your decision, you can ensure asset availability by seeing that necessary maintenance is performed and allow senior management to manage and protect their overall investment.

The hard part

In order for IT asset management to be effective, the identification and tracking of key components must be performed frequently and regularly. For accurate results, organizations must have measureable policies, procedures and governance practices in place to help you boost return on your technology investment.

In terms of having a structured process approach, the primary goals for IT governance are to assure that the use of information and technology generates business value, oversee management's performance, and mitigate the risks associated with using information and technology. 

IT asset management is not a one-time activity -- it is an ongoing process. Having the right software and the operational practices administered properly, you will optimize the value you derive from your IT systems.

Asset management discipline guarantees that you will make the right business and project decisions, optimizing the delivery of value. The effort to collect and maintain this data is time and resource consuming. Contemplate automating the process to integrate the software and related workflow by having assigned roles and responsibilities to include staff (cross-functional team) to review, adjust and report frequently.

From experience, I’ll share that there will be numerous changes to monitor, and if you do not have an effective service management discipline, namely change control, you will lose the effectiveness of the system and the capabilities of concrete reporting. Given the nature of the dependency and criticalness of the information (contracts, equipment turnover, costs, etc.), the process and information should be audited for fiscal and security effectiveness.

Bottom-line: You constantly face mounting pressure to forecast and budget IT resources, cut costs, and improve departmental efficiency. To be successful, you need to control the entire asset management process, budget and risks against the desired performance of the assets. Your best shot at being efficient is to centralize this activity using a cross-functional team.

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