From The Expert Feature Article
October 05, 2016

6 Questions to Help IT Managers Keep Communications Systems Running at Peak Performance

Everyone knows the importance of stretching each dollar. That’s especially true of non-profit enterprises trying to keep operating costs at a minimum.  They need to ensure that their IT system investment runs at peak performance, ensuring secure, constant and seamless communication with its members and achieving the organization's underlying goals.

And IT staff has to stretch resources.  The recent 9th Annual Non-Profit Technology Staffing and Investments Report now say that IT staffs at national non-profits are falling into four categories:

  • Struggling: “We are struggling; we have a failing infrastructure, and our technology time and budget generally go towards creating workarounds, repairing old equipment, and duplicating tasks.”
  • Functioning: “We keep the lights on; we have basic systems in place to meet immediate needs. Leadership makes technology decisions based on efficiencies, with little-to-no input from staff/consultant.”
  • Operating: “We keep up; we have stable infrastructure and a set of technology policies and practices.  Leadership makes technology decisions based on standard levels according to industry/sector information and gathers input from technology staff/consultant before making a final decision.”
  • Leading: “We’re innovators; we recognize that technology is an investment in our mission, and leadership integrates technology decisions with organizational strategy. Technology-responsible staff is involved in overall strategic planning.”

Of the IT managers surveyed, about 50 percent said that their communications systems were running at just “operating” level.  The report also found “leading” organizations are nearly twice more likely to include technology in their strategic plans than “struggling” organizations. 

Recently, one of the leading organizations, with 125 locations in the U.S and an array of business communications solutions, faced their own three challenges which I am sure many of you can relate to:

  • Small IT staff overseeing large number of locations
  • Support required for multivendor environment
  • Insufficient tools to troubleshoot end user business communications problems

“I run an extremely lean staff,” says the telecom manager at one of the US’s top 25 non-profit organizations. “We do 25-50 major projects a year. Opening new locations, upgrading existing locations — all on top of day-to-day business - for us, it’s imperative that we operate as efficiently as possible with the tight resources we have.”

Overcoming these challenges comes at the same time as the need to boost stability and focus on high value projects.  IT managers should ask for answers to six critical questions of potential managed service providers:

  1. Does the managed service provider’s experience and its managed IT services keep systems up and running so that the core team can focus on high priority projects? 
  2. Does the managed service provider have the skills necessary to support a multivendor environment?
  3. Can the managed service provider optimize the performance of the current business environment while proactively prevent problems before they become outages? Do they use self-healing automated intelligent systems or is it manual?
  4. Does the potential managed service provider have a continuum of communications services to support an evolving environment from maintenance to proactive support to managed to private cloud?
  5. How quickly can the managed service provider restore systems during a disaster or emergency scenario?
  6. Can the managed service provider offer an easy to use tool that helps diagnose reported intermittent network issues?

What are some of the questions that you are asking managed service providers?

Edited by Stefania Viscusi