Why Tampa Businesses Outsource Their Help Desk

Why Businesses in Tampa Outsource Their IT Help Desk

The support of a well-managed IT help desk plays an integral role to the day-to-day productivity of your business. Their help not only ensures that you resolve the technology obstacles that slow down your team’s work, but it also helps your team feel valued and supported, boosts morale, and allows them to better focus on valuable work.

But running an IT help desk internally takes a considerable commitment of resources that far exceeds the ability and budget of small and midsized businesses in Tampa.

For this reason, most companies will need to outsource that duty to a managed IT service provider like LNS Solutions. But with so many competing companies making similar claims, how do you know which provider is the right choice?

In this blog we’ll explore why businesses outsource their IT help desk and what they can do to ensure that they’ve picked the right provider.

The Benefits of an Outsourced IT Help Desk

Handing over the responsibility for your IT help desk duties helps businesses solves some of the most challenging pain points associated with IT support and management. There are four major benefits to working with an outsourced help desk provider.

Guaranteed Responsiveness and Stability

Managing IT staff is a unique challenge that most businesses aren’t prepared for, even if when they think they’ve got it under control. Businesses that have a small internal IT team struggle to fully understand their work or give them the direction they need to ensure make sure that they’re doing everything they can to protect your network.

Reputable MSPs back their IT help desk service with a detailed service-level agreement (SLA). This contract outlines in clear terms exactly how quickly their technicians will respond to your IT support requests, what steps they’ll take to address your issue, and how important issues are escalated to senior network engineers.

The result is a network with a guaranteed level of availability, usually above 99.99%. That level of service is difficult to achieve with just in-house resources.

Eliminate IT Staffing Stress

IT staffing is a nightmare, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced companies in all industries struggling to find new staff. According to recent research from Gartner, 64% of business leaders say that a talent shortage is the biggest obstacle to adopting new technologies.

Finding qualified help desk technicians, reviewing their resumes and credentials, administering skill tests to check their real-world abilities, and then dealing with a high rates of turnover can drain your energy and cause significant stress.

Working with a reputable MSP eliminates those IT staffing woes. Veteran MSPs have a mature process for vetting and hiring help desk technicians, reducing your HR overhead and reliving a serious source of stress.

Refined Help Desk Technology and Processes

Running an IT help desk isn’t just about good technicians, it’s also about good technology. Modern help desk teams rely on specialized software that allows them to remotely monitor the status of your network, analyze new issues, then make required repairs, without having to disrupt your productivity.

Those software suites are expensive to purchase and difficult to learn, which makes them inaccessible to most businesses. A reputable outsourced IT help desk will have all these systems in place, along with years of experience configuring and using them. That expertise means they can hit the ground running and spare you those high capital expenses.

Streamline Your IT Budget

When you start to build an IT team, the significant costs start to add up fast.

First, there are the direct costs of your technical hires and the software you need to support them. Beyond that, there are many costs that businesses fail to budget for, like new hardware, employee training and certification costs, and dedicated office space to house your IT help desk team.

Working with an MSP consolidates all those costs into a single, flat monthly bill that includes remote IT support like the IT help desk, along with unlimited onsite support from their team of network engineers.

In some scenarios, outsourcing leads to a cost savings over running these programs in-house.

But in every case, it provides your business leaders with budgeting confidence. An IT help desk service from a reputable MSP means a predictable IT support budget that never fluctuates, no matter how much support your team needs or what type of cybersecurity incident your organizations faces.

How to Choose the Right IT Help Desk?

I’ve used the term “reputable” MSP several times in this article so far, so much that it begs the question, “What is a reputable MSP”?

That’s one of the central issues that’ll have to answer when you’re evaluating potential IT services partners. Unfortunately, the MSP market has a low barrier to entry, so established providers can have a hard time standing out for the plethora of low-cost providers who making identical marketing claims.

Check Their Help Desk Metrics

Start with a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey and see if they’re tracking how many of their IT tickets end with a happy end-user. If they’re not tracking CSAT, that may be a red flag that they’re not taking their service quality seriously enough.

Digging deeper there are huge variety of help desk metrics that you can inquire about. These will provide a clear picture of how effectively the MSP’s help desk is serving their clients.

For a deeper look into important IT help desk statistics, check out this great post from help desk software provider, Kaseya.

Long-Term Partnership

Switching MSPs is a serious business. Over months and years, the MSP will build a strong relationship with your business and team. This means not just supporting your immediate IT support needs but providing strategic guidance to your leadership as your business and technology evolve.

To ensure that an MSP is capable being a dependable long-term partner, you should make sure they have a track-record of working with clients for several years. To start, check to make sure that their reputation in your community is solid. During the MSP interview process, make a point of asking about the average length of their client engagements and dig deep into their referrals too.

The Tampa Business Community’s Trusted Managed IT Service Provider

The LNS Solutions team has been serving the Tampa area for decades, helping our business community streamline and upgrade their day-to-day operations with cutting-edge, reliable technology. If your company would like to outsource regular IT support to a trusted provider, we’d love to speak with you any time at (813) 393-1626.

 

The Tampa Business Guide to Cybersecurity Incidence Response Planning

Tampa Business Guide to Cybersecurity Incidence Response Planning

Cybersecurity has become a major threat to small and midsized businesses. Nationally, the number of attacks that target these companies has even surpassed attacks that target enterprises. Why? Smaller cybersecurity budgets and a lack of expertise make them easy targets.

Florida businesses are no exception. In just the last few years, we’ve experienced several high-profile incidents. Russian hackers have increased their attacks on the local business community, putting the state’s security professionals on edge. Disgruntled employees have stolen troves of confidential data. We’ve even had hackers try to poison Tampa’s drinking water.

A powerful but overlooked tool in the cybersecurity toolbox is the incident response plan. Having a centralized document that explains how your company can respond to a data breach or ransomware attack is critical to defending your business.

How Do I Develop a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

The first thing to do is assemble stakeholders from across your organization to contribute their skills and perspectives.

This team should include technical personnel who can help to prioritize and oversee the actual incident response, as well as people who can coordinate the important legal, human resource, and public relations components of a comprehensive plan.

The support of senior leadership is critical too. An incident response plan needs long-term maintenance to stay relevant to your evolving business. This makes executive buy-in critical, so that the incident response team receives the time and resources it needs to succeed.

The next step is to conduct a network risk assessment.

If you’ve never performed one, a risk assessment is an audit of your technology and processes to identify which cybersecurity or technology disasters would have the biggest impact on your business. It also measures how effectively your existing security controls will defend you against those threats.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework is a great resource to help you conduct a successful assessment. Developed by the Federal Government to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, the NIST framework is now a model for small and midsized businesses across the country that want to better understand their cyber risk.

NIST has several documents that can help guide you through the assessment process:

Navigating the risk assessment may be difficult with in-house expertise alone. Because of that, many companies enlist an external cybersecurity partner to help them navigate NIST and ensure that they get the right handle on their cybersecurity risk.

What Information Should I Include in My Incident Response Plan?

The first thing to clarify is that the incident response plan will be different to every business. Every organization has unique operational goals, business objectives, culture, and network technology. All their cybersecurity plans and protections must be designed to accommodate that uniqueness.

In general, an effective incident response plan will have at least these 5 sections:

  1. Prepare
    To prepare, you should identify who will response to cybersecurity issues. This phase also includes reviewing the roster and the entire plan itself to document changes, so that everyone is working off the latest version of the plan.
  2. Identify
    This step means how you’ll detect and analyze cybersecurity threats. It should also include how to document and report cyber threats to the rest of your organization, so that you have a coordinated response to an incident. You may wish to deploy a dedicated incident management system to track evidence related to the event.
  3. Contain
    Once your team has detected a new threat, the next step is to prevent that threat from causing more damage to your network. This probably means isolating the affected server of endpoint. An example of stronger containment measures is replacing an affected hard drives or piece of hardware.In order to properly contain a threat, interrogate it like you would a real-life criminal. Who was involved? What exactly took place? Where did the attack occur? Why did it bypass my defenses? How did we identify the attack?
  4. Eradicate
    This stage is where you find the root cause of the incident and take immediate steps to prevent similar attacks in the future, which could be patching systems, updating software, or otherwise ensuring that no artifacts from the attack are still in your systems.
  5. Recovery
    Now that the threats have been eliminated, you can start to restore functionality to the rest of your network. As you bring your technology back online, monitor the system and ensure that each system is behaving as they should.
  6. Learn and Test
    The final step is to test your systems and gather as a team to discuss the attack, update the incident plan based on the knowledge that you’ve gained through your recent recovery efforts, and complete any documentation your regulators require.

 Do I Really Need an Incident Response Plan?

The short answer is, yes! Cybersecurity attacks like ransomware or malware can be devastating to a business — but they don’t have to be. When you identify intrusion early and take steps to contain the problem, you can avoid some of the worst effects and save a considerable amount in recovery expenses.

Specifically, it helps you achieve a few key goals:

But the plan isn’t a “one-and-done” initiative; businesses must allocate regular attention to maintain their incidence response plan. New hires, shifting business priorities, changes in your technology, and a long list of other events can push your response plan out of alignment with your business.

Regulatory Compliance Requirements
In some cases, incident response planning isn’t just important to have, it’s the law. Regulatory compliance standards, like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), HIPAA all require organizations have a plan for dealing with cybersecurity threats and test that plan at least annually.

Manage Cybersecurity Risk with the Help of a Trusted Partner

The average salary for a cybersecurity engineer in Florida is over $113,000, putting important IT talent out of reach for many small and midsized businesses in the state.

For decades, the cybersecurity team at LNS Solutions has been helping businesses in Tampa manage their cybersecurity and regulatory compliance risk. If your business could benefit from outside cyber expertise, fill out the form below. You can also reach our friendly and responsive team any time at info@LNSSolutions.com or (813) 393-1626.

We look forward to speaking with you!

 

Migrating your Small Business to the Cloud

Migrating Your Small Business to the Cloud

A recent study by Gartner shows that 85% of organizations will embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025 and will rely on cloud-native technology in order to fully execute their digital strategies. 

"The Cloud" refers to servers or services that are accessed over the Internet through a 3rd party provider such as Microsoft or Amazon. There are many reasons to migrate your small business: greater ability to collaborate, more efficient cost management, and accurate planned growth without unknown capital expenditures. Small business owners should consider all the advantages of a move to the cloud.

Fairly often, conversation of the Cloud seems overwhelming or unclear, but it’s likely that your business is already using the cloud in some capacity. Systems like Microsoft 365 for email or centrally managed security dashboards are all cloud based. 

However if you are not currently using any cloud features and are looking to increase efficiency, there are a few key touch points to make sure you start off on the right path.  

First, develop a strategy before migrating. 

Often we are asked by customers to “move us to the cloud” because everyone else is doing it, and they do not want to be left behind. That is not a good cloud migration strategy.

So ask yourself, on behalf of your business, “why do we need to be in the cloud?”

Every business is different, so find specific answers to this question. Take time to research the benefits of cloud migration, and if you’re able, talk to a Cloud professional to learn more. 

It may turn out that you are not ready for a migration and staying on-premise is still the right solution (for now), but fully understanding your options and the benefits of the Cloud is the first step in developing a strategy. 

If you do choose to migrate, plan accordingly. Cloud migration is typically driven by a line-of-business application specific to your business or industry. Be sure to understand the impact on other applications you use. A common issue  we see during migration is that email or printing must be reconfigured.

Second, make the transition gradual. 

The cloud is a new system for your business, so make sure you take a migration slowly. 

An easy way to start is with your email system. Migrating to Microsoft Office 365 is a very easy task and can  be accomplished quickly and effectively by an experienced provider.

Talk to your business software account representatives (accounting, CRM, time-entry) and ask them for their current and long-term cloud strategies. More than likely, they have or are developing a Software-as-a-Service (cloud) offering. What you don’t want is their legacy application offered remotely and then rebranded as a cloud computing solution.

Finally, secure your internet. 

As previously mentioned, cloud services are internet-reliant, so it is important to make sure your business has access to reliable internet. A second fail-over connection is highly recommended. If your internet goes out, the impact of losing access to your data and applications can be costly - your business can lose actual revenue for every second you are disconnected. 

Begin Your Exploration

The migration to a Cloud based business can be a time-consuming, arduous journey, but in the end, the decision can improve your business by making it more efficient, secure and profitable.

If you are ready to migrate to the cloud or interested in understanding more fully the benefits it may offer, click below or fill out the form to talk to one of our experienced representatives. 

Get started now.

 

How to Choose the Right Managed IT Service Provider

How to Choose the Right Managed IT Service Provider - 7 Questions to Ask

A Managed IT Service Provider (or MSP) acts as a business’ internal IT team, and is responsible for managing all IT infrastructure. Managed IT Providers are rarely one size fits all, so finding the right MSP can be a worthwhile challenge. 

Going with an MSP is a good idea. In a survey of 1000 small businesses by Deloitte, it was found that 85% reported that technology aids in their success. If you have made the decision to use an Managed Service Provider or dissatisfied with your current vendor, use these seven questions to find the best MSP for your business. 

Does the MSP know your industry? 

There are about 40,000 MSP in the United States alone… so chances are that when you start your search, you will find an inexpensive general-purpose Managed Service Provider. 

General-purpose MSPs typically offer surface level solutions that cater to a broad market. In the long run, these will hurt your business more than they help as a general-purpose MSP does not have a deep understanding of your environment or how security impacts your business.

Instead, look for a MSP team that has expertise in your industry (legal, finance, nonprofits, engineering). MSPs are most effective when a long-term business relationship exists, which will only happen when you partner with a MSP that understands your industry-specific needs. Industry specific MSPs can create and implement repeatable processes geared directly towards your business’ IT and security needs.

Does the MSP understand and offer comprehensive Cybersecurity?

Some MSPs operate at the surface level of security and merely aim to ‘check the boxes’ of antivirus and firewall. Make sure you partner with someone that understands today's threat environment and offers comprehensive services to protect you. According to SonicWall, there are roughly 1000 new malware variants created every day. At a minimum, ask them these questions.

You need to know what is involved in getting you back online in the event of a cybersecurity event or hardware failure. It’s easy to recommend new applications and web solutions to win a pitch, but security should be the major determining factor when the MSP is making recommendations.

What does the Customer Support Journey look like?

The customer support journey is the experience a customer undergoes when they decide to interact with an MSP (typically through a support ticket or a phone call). The key here is determining how the MSP handles day-to-day support calls, system alerts and emergencies.

Oftentimes MSPs will casually answer this question by stating that their system monitors the computers 24/7 and alerts you immediately of a problem. Nearly all MSPs do this, so it’s important to take a deeper look. The end-user experience is what really matters here.

Make sure the MSP has a consistent and repeatable process for customer support requirements. MSPs that focus only on technology are tied to what technology can or can’t do—and that affects the success of their processes.

What a customer journey should look like. 

Can the MSP's solution scale and grow with my organization?

Industry changes are real-time, and you need an MSP that won’t slow your growth.

In fact, it’s important to look for an MSP that can help your growth. 

Ask potential providers what their toolset and service offering looks like. It should include some (if not all) of the following:

A great MSP will help you determine what services will work as your organization continues to scale. Your Managed Service Provide should be focused on your success.

Do you own your software or cloud services?

Is your cloud environment or Line-of-Business software in your name or the MSP? It’s important that you have full ownership of these solutions. You do not want to be held hostage by your previous provider.  

An MSP is a partner in your business, not an owner. Make sure they agree to keeping everything in your business name. Review the current SLA (service level agreement) to ensure you are not relying on the MSP provider to release ownership.

At LNS, we keep everything in your business name. We believe it is your right to own your IT infrastructure.

Does the MSP’s team stay up to date on new technologies? 

Be careful of the MSPs that are made up entirely of technicians that spend all day  handling support tickets and putting out fires. Any MSP you look at should have a system in place that allows their team to stay updated on the latest technology. At a minimum, this includes annual reviews of their management and security products. Training for their staff should be a priority.

Ask them about their commitment to reviewing and learning new solutions. 

A company that is forward thinking and focused on learning throughout its organization is committed to growth and service. 

Does the MSP have processes and procedures in place for efficient resolution?

Unfortunately, in the world of cybersecurity and managed service providers, breaches do occur from time to time. While you naturally want to partner with a company that is going to limit the frequency and severity of these breaches, it is important to also consider how a managed service provider will handle things in the event of your security system being compromised. 

Before partnering with a MSP, make sure to ask if they have processes and procedures in place for efficient resolution.

You’ll want to make sure the MSP you partner with offers has clear answers for the following questions regarding efficient resolution. 

What is their escalation procedure?

A security breach should not go unattended for very long. Some inexperienced technicians may spend too much time on a problem before asking their team or supervisors for help. The longer a problem is unsolved, the greater the risk. 

What skill levels do their technicians have? 

This ties into the escalation procedure question above. 

A MSP should have a strong mix of junior and senior technicians. When a managed service provider has too many junior technicians, there may not be a member on the team that has experience in solving extreme situations. When there are too many senior members there may be a poorly delineated split of responsibility, allowing problems to go unsolved.  

A team made up of varying experience levels creates a clear division for escalation within the team. and a clear path on how problems are escalated and resolved.

How is their communication? 

Do you, as a customer, have a clear line-of-sight on the status of your ticket and project? Are you able to know where you are at-a-glance?

Is your environment fully documented? 

A technician not familiar with your environment can spend far too much time (theirs and yours) ‘relearning’ your system so they can resolve your problem. 

A great MSP should have your system full documented and immediately accessible.

What are their onboarding procedures? 

Ask your potential MSP to show you the steps they take to get you to a steady-state for support. On average, an MSP should spend 6 weeks securing, documenting and monitoring your system.

Do they have a process for user onboarding and offboarding? 

Every customer is unique on how new and previous users are added to the system. A new user in your organization should be ready to work on their first day, while a previous user should be immediately prevented from inadvertently accessing your system.

Summary

Choosing the right MSP takes time.  

A Managed Service Provider (or MSP) acts as a business’ internal IT team, and is responsible for managing all IT infrastructure. Managed Service Providers are rarely one size fits all, so finding the right MSP can be a worthwhile challenge. 

When looking for the right MSP, consider the following seven questions:

A quality MSP will create a customized solution that fits your industry. Their processes and technology (and training) should work with you to achieve the best customer service possible while scaling with you as needed.

LNS Solutions has an extensive toolset and service offering that can scale to your organization, as well as over 35 years of experience. We focus not on break/fix but on proactive measures that predict problems before they happen and prevent them from impacting your organization. 

Are you ready to partner with an Managed IT Services provider that has the experience and expertise of all the items above? Give us a call at (813) 393-1626 or fill out the form below.