Another great new article from thebestof Cheltenham's Local and Vocal Magazine...
If it ain’t broke fix it
Many people adopt an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude when it comes to their company’s IT matters. This can be a costly mistake says Tony Briscombe of Grafx.
Nearly all companies rely to some extent on computers and their applications. When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, there is always that nice man who turns up and makes it all work again. However, paying a monthly fee for problem solving IT support can be an expensive and somewhat outdated exercise. Before you blindly renew your existing support contract, it might be worth considering the changes that are taking place in the IT world.
There has been a reduction in the cost of computer support services, or should have been, for most companies. In addition, we no longer rely so heavily on multi-file servers and complex infrastructure. In short, the days of reactive only contracted computer support services are numbered, as increasingly commercial IT services take the form of retained managed services.
Many people are wary of change, but technology is constantly evolving, so things need updating. Few people drive a cronky old petrol-guzzler of a car any more when they have been replaced with lean green hybrid machines. The same principle applies to computers. Except a computer drive isn’t ideal for long journeys obviously - there’s nowhere to put the flask of coffee and the bag of boiled sweets.
A visit from Tony Brisombe of computer company Grafx is like a spring clean for your company computer system. In effect sweeping away the unnecessary or wasteful processes and equipment, replacing and reorganising it to work more efficiently and therefore more cost effectively. Tony goes into companies to check on data security and communications, and to review the IT strategy in relation to the company’s core function.
Invariably, this has the effect of eliminating the cost of an expensive support service annual fee, and making the IT systems more efficient. He may suggest upgrading the hardware or reducing the number of servers required.
The mere suggestion of cancelling the company’s computer support contract, that may have been in place for years, is often met with disbelief by company owners or Finance Directors. It’s as if they had been asked to sell their children. Many a hardened captain of industry, able to comfortably deal with any eventuality, reverts to acting like a three year old child that’s lost in a busy supermarket, unable to find mummy, when confronted by a blank screen or a dicky cursor.
There’s no need for panic, switching to retained managed services doesn’t mean you have to fix your own puters. In fact, following an inspection from Grafx there is less likelihood of anything going wrong, as your IT functions will be simpler and more efficient. They still provide full on-site support services, but also provide a secure on-line backup support service based at their Cheltenham HQ.
The company was founded in 1989 in the days of the fierce divide between Apple Mac’s and PC’s; back then you were either one or the other. Now Mac and PC’s are virtually interchangeable and sometimes are used together for different functions within the same company.
A chat with Tony costs nothing and it could dramatically improve your IT performance and reduce your monthly bill. Projecting two or three years ahead helps to save money over time. If the proactive side (installing the most suitable systems and hardware) of IT is done properly, the reactive side (problem solving and support) should be limited.
Grafx provides a comprehensive list of services from the supply and set-up of computers, servers and networks, to VPN’s for remote workers, Blackberry and iPhone integration, email, networked diaries, automated off-site data backup, and web hosting.
Here are a couple of examples of how Tony has worked his magic and put a smile on the faces of these business owners.
Case study 1
Cheltenham Design studio
This design company was PC focused but used Apple Mac’s for creative work in the design studio. They struggled with multiple suppliers covering various aspects of their IT, which provided inconsistent support and confusion, as the various suppliers were reluctant to take responsibility for problems. With several support contracts to pay, all giving only reactive help, IT costs were high and development disjointed.
Following Tony’s advice, the number of servers in use was halved, thereby reducing the contract costs. In addition, Grafx standardised the system software and applications to remove user frustrations and make things more user-friendly. They also cancelled a number of recurring invoices that were no longer valid.
The net effect was a dramatic reduction in the company’s IT bills and a complete overhaul of the system, which brought new life back to both the users and processes.
Case study 2
Bristol based Creative Studio
Based in Bristol, the company had its staff of 25 divided between the Bristol head office and a satellite office in Wales. This company was experiencing disruptive communication problems between the two sites, which was causing major frustration. A slow and intermittent broadband service compromised both production and accounts. Support costs were excessive and they had been advised to purchase new lines and equipment, which failed to resolve the problems.
As a result of a referral from an existing client, Grafx were asked to look at the problems. As with any new client the first task was to try to understand the company’s requirements, and then simplify the computer systems and networks.
Like many other companies, their IT system and applications had evolved over time, as opposed to being designed. Taking a fresh view not only resolved this company’s existing IT issues quickly, but also reduced their ongoing support costs by more than fifty percent.