Visit your family, not your servers

Many groups provide a weekly, “visit” to make sure that their customer’s technology is working properly.  This is based on an hourly billing model that required someone showing up to get paid.  The problem is it’s 100% reactive and there is no reason to physically show up anymore. Do all of your technology issues happen on Wednesday at 2pm?  What about when there is an issue and the visit will be next week?

The physical visit phenomenon started in the early days of the technology provider business.

You were sold a block of hours (or monthly retainer) and in order to make sure they were used someone showed up to check on things once a week.  Remote support tools and networks were less reliable, so physically showing up was often required.  This is very similar to visiting family members, it doesn’t count unless you show up!

Modern tools and networks automate the entire process of checking in and reporting on the status of your technology.  Setup correctly, these tools should detect inconsistent behavior and either resolve automatically or generate a proactive notification for a remote team to resolve.  The need to show up onsite should be limited to physical deployments and hardware related failures.  Driving around checking on servers seems bad for business and certainly the environment!

If your technology provider is showing up at some predetermined time, it’s time to consider why.

There are three main reasons this still happens:

1.  You pay on an hourly basis

This is an obvious reason for showing up.  There is no incentive for your vendor to resolve issues permanently or to become more efficient in providing your services.  This means all the risk for your technology working properly is on you.  This can work well for smaller businesses (less than 20 users) but is 100% reactive and will not help generate increased profits or efficiency for your business.

Beware of any “fixed fee” service that has a limit of time they provide you….this is just a monthly block of hours by another name, and certainly not in your best interest.

2.  Lack of maturity of your vendor delivery model

If your provider is not investing in the tools and processes to scale, they will assign accounts to their techs directly.  They ride around all week visiting “their” accounts and check on things.  If you get a good tech, then you feel well taken care of, but if you get someone else….that feeling quickly fades.  You are dealing with a one-person IT company at this point, but paying for an entire “company”.

3.  The remote tools are not up to modern standards

It takes a number of years to develop a proper remote support capability.  The right tools, processes, and experience are required to deliver services remotely at scale.  Many groups lack one of the three components listed and fall back to the onsite visit to make up for it.

Face-to-face interaction is great in any business relationship, but it should be for value-added purposes such as strategic planning sessions….not weekly “face time” with your servers.  Mature technology service providers should be able to resolve 80%+ of all issues remotely, onsite time should be limited to deployments.  This is a more efficient model for your business and your provider’s!