In November of 1995, an episode of Seinfeld aired in which Jerry and his friends visit a soup stand. The proprietor has an extremely regimented way that he insists his clients adopt in order to be treated with a bowl of his soup.
The concept is funny. The idea is that all of his customers must comply with the same set of rigid standards or they will not be served. Clearly, maintaining strict procedural standards ensures that an organization runs smoothly, but as evidenced in this episode, it can be taken to the extreme.
When it comes to developing a managed service plan, there is an element of adherence to standards that provides efficiencies which benefit the client due to increased cost savings and fewer support issues. When you are vetting potential Information Technology service providers, it would be very informative to discover the standards and tools that they use to perform their services. The federal government publishes a set of small business information security ‘best practices’ through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Your selected firm should not only be aware of these recommendations, but their Managed Service Plan should meet or exceed NIST recommendations.
Your monthly managed service plan should include costs for your anti-virus software (no more receiving bills or writing checks for annual renewals), it should include the cost for your daily data backup storage, your email hosting costs, as well as web and email content filtering. Unless extenuating circumstances exist, your MSP should use the same tools for all of their contracted clients. This allows for better purchasing power and more efficient end-user support when their technicians and engineers are all trained on the same packages.
In addition to the tools that are loaded at your site, there are other tools used to support an organized MSP. A committed MSP will employ back-end tools such as a support knowledge base, a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool, a Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool, and an IT documentation management tool. Each of these tools should be accessible to the resources in the Network Operations Center in order to ensure smooth and efficient maintenance and issue resolution. The more automated and streamlined your IT service provider is, the better equipped they will be to support you and your users with little to no disruption as your users complete their daily tasks.
If your IT support organization is not providing cost savings and efficiencies through effective standardization, you should tell them “No soup-port fees for you!”