Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Plan-Net shortlisted for Supplier of the Year at the British Legal Awards 2012

October 3, 2012

IT service provider Plan-Net has been nominated at the British Legal Awards 2012 in the category ‘Supplier of the Year’. It is the fourth award nomination for Plan-Net this year, also finalist in two categories at the IT Industry Awards and in one at the National Outsourcing Association Awards.

Plan-Net has extensive experience in delivering IT services to the legal sector, including 14 of the top 15 UK law firms. Understanding the needs and requirements of this particular sector, the provider established a unique and innovative legal-dedicated 24/7/365 Shared Service Centre. It is thanks to this that Plan-Net has been nominated at the prestigious British Legal Awards 2012.

The British Legal Awards celebrate achievement, excellence and innovation in the Legal Industry. The event will be taking place on Thursday 22 November at Old Billingsgate Market, London EC3.

To learn more about the British Legal Awards, visit: http://www.britishlegalawards.com

About Plan-Net: http://www.plan-net.co.uk/

10 Things your IT Service Desk should NOT be doing

September 3, 2012

Is your IT Service Desk managed efficiently? If any of these things are happening, perhaps it is time to have a look at the way you manage your IT support staff and make some improvements.

1 – Bypassing processes/procedures

As a central point of IT, should the Service Desk fail with these basic disciplines, the rest of IT will follow; this will subsequently cause failures and inefficiencies.

2 – Avoiding logging calls, regardless of how trivial they are

Services are measured on service volumes and staff are recognised for their contributions towards these measures. Service Desk staff do not always grasp that, normally, the service is charged based on reported service volumes.  Further to this, for audit control it is imperative to have a record of all calls logged so that the capacity of the service can be fully understood.

3 – Taking decisions to change priority based on individual relationships

It is imperative that your Service Desk understands the priority structure within your organisation, e.g. Directors/VIPs, Traders, Sales Back office Staff, as each will have their view on who should take priority. There should be a clear protocol which your Service desk should not bypass.

4 – Forgetting to manage their telephone management

ACD stats are as important as the statistics produced by your call management tool in understanding capacity, peaks and flows, as well as in understanding individual KPIs. For example, if someone is targeted on how many calls they have fixed whilst being logged on to the phones, they should ensure they engage in ‘not ready’ protocol to maximise and prove their individual output.

5 – Taking lunch or breaks at the same time

Shifts on a Service Desk need to be regimented in order to cover peak times of the days and varied shifts. Someone not being available to take a call at a certain time of the day, unless by absolute exception, is unacceptable. Perception of the Service Desk is key – it only takes one call out of many to be delayed in pick up or left to abandon for the perception of the service to completely change.Image

6 – Escalating issues that they have the ability to resolve

It is important that your Service Desk staff understand the limits they need to go to in order to fix a call.  Equally as important is their understanding of what they have access to and what falls within their remit. Once calls are escalated, the Service Desk can lose respect from other areas by showing an unwillingness to perform certain duties, when in fact they simply haven’t been made clear what falls within their domain.

7 – Leaving the call management flow to someone else

Your Service Desk needs to be accountable for call flows from start to finish.

8 – Sitting at their desks during their breaks. 

Not only is it important from a health and safety perspective that people take adequate breaks, but it gives off the image that these people are working. In this instance, they should not demonstrate their frustrations if they are approached for assistance during a break whilst being sat at their desks. They should be encouraged to take sufficient breaks, and away from their desks.

9 – Ignoring repeated patterns in call types. 

Normally, repeated call types suggest an underlying problem that needs escalating and managing through the proper problem management channels.

10 – Asking repetitive questions to other support groups. 

Support engineers need to take appropriate notes and be able to absorb the majority of what they are being told. A Service Desk can start to lose its integrity if its staff fails to grasp basic concepts.

 

 

Ben Whitehead, Service Delivery Manager

This article is also on ITSM Portal: http://www.itsmportal.com/columns/10-things-your-it-service-desk-should-not-be-doing

All the rage

August 20, 2012

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) has become somewhat of a buzzword. With the push generally coming from the top, namely Senior Management and C-executives, there is a lot of pressure on IT to accommodate for the use of smartphones and tablets for work purposes. However, integrating new devices within the business environment is not all easy and straightforward, from an IT point of view.

Before allowing BYOD there needs to be a lot of planning, especially to insure the appropriate level of security. What end users sometimes fail to understand is that with the introduction of personal smartphones and tablets, the security of information which pass through these devices is at risk. These devices can be more easily hacked compared with a company-approved laptop, and they can be stolen or lost. Although there are some measures to wipe data off a device remotely after it has been lost or stolen, there is still the risk that information has already been seen, copied and used for fraudulent activities. Breaching the Data Protection Act will result in hefty fines that can put pressure on the company’s financial position, and it may also damage the most important thing – its reputation.

A BYOD policy will also create new issues for the IT Service Desk. IT engineers who are not familiar with these devices and the operating system they are working on will have to get some training, or more often than not, self-train in order to be able to support them. It takes time to learn new things and create knowledge-based documents for everyone to learn from, and the initial unfamiliarity with the systems might slow down incident resolution rates. Analysts might also get a number of calls regarding things that are out of their remit, such as ‘How do you turn this thing on?’ or ‘I need to download this app…’. All these things will affect the level of service and therefore any metrics, Key Performance Indicators or Service Level Agreements will have to take this into account.

On the bright side, this is also a good opportunity for IT staff to learn and practise new skills, get to know new systems and make their work more varied. It will ultimately increase their expertise and value.

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to introduce BYOD slowly by starting from one feature in particular. For instance, at the company where I am working in a managed service environment, it was only applicable to email on iPhones and iPads. Documents can be read and sent but not saved or modified on the device. Now that this project has been rolled out, gone live and is running smoothly, we are planning to allow document editing on the devices, once we have come to terms with the security concerns.

Companies shouldn’t avoid BYOD policies just because of the technical complexity or security issues involved. The advantages they can enjoy may outweigh those: BYOD creates savings, as less company-approved phones and laptops have to be purchased for employees; increases productivity as professionals are able to easily work on-the-move and while they are away from their office, for instance visiting a client’s site; and gives employees the chance to take on emergency work and answer urgent emails at any time of day and night and from anywhere.

Why is it that certain sectors are so attracted to the prospect of being able to use their own devices for work? In the financial sector in particular, it is not difficult to guess – so many professionals work nearly 24/7, hardly ever switching off. Their personal and professional lives are intertwined and it is a nuisance for them to have to carry around: a personal mobile phone for personal and work-related calls; a work mobile phone to check emails on-the-go; a company-approved laptop to work from a different office or the train; their personal tablet to show clients presentations. If they can have all-in-one on their personal phone or light-weight and easy-to-carry tablet, it makes life much easier for them.

In the future, BYOD is likely to increase, and we might see some environments entirely populated by employee-owned devices, though this is more likely to happen in start-ups and small organisations rather than medium and large-sized companies. There is also an argument that BYOD is driving Cloud services, as the latter represent a more secure way to manage data without taking the risk of saving it onto devices that can be stolen, lost and hacked.

All in all, BYOD can bring many benefits, but needs careful planning and security measures to be adopted correctly. A policy where employees can use their own devices for work purposes should serve as a way to improve productivity. It shouldn’t be an excuse for people to shun secure and approved devices and use expensive and sexy new gadgets just for the sake of being on trend, putting security and efficiency at risk.

Nick Fenton, Team Leader
This article has appeared in the July/August edition of FSTech – Financial Sector Technology: http://www.fstech.co.uk/Digital_fstech/pdfs/digital_fstech_july_aug2012.pdf

Microsoft Surface – should Apple be worried?

July 2, 2012

It has been known for a long time that the new version of Windows 8 would be making its debut on a tablet later this autumn, but few actually knew Microsoft would be taking a similar route to market as Apple and actually creating its own product to do so.

Traditionally Microsoft has relied on 3rd party manufacturers such as Dell, HP, ASUS, etc. to create devices for its operating system – but not this time. Microsoft has proved it has the muscle to deliver a hardware platform with its X-box gaming console so it should not be a surprise, but this may seriously affect its relationship with its traditional partners who have until now provided the hardware platform. But really, will it? Are they going to switch on-mass to Android or is Apple going to allow them to create tablets for IOS?  I don’t think so. Many of them already create tablets in Android and they will not stop doing so; however, they can also now create a Windows version too.

I think the creation of the Microsoft tablet was driven by two goals. Firstly, to create a test hardware platform for them that they could develop Windows 8 on to make sure it really does work; and secondly, to show the manufactures the standard and quality of the product they expect for their operating system to sit on. They know that this is the final throw of the dice in the tablet war and it has to be right, it has to be “aspirational”. Microsoft has set the standard and the manufactures now have to follow.

By creating two versions, Microsoft has cleverly extended the reach of their Windows 8 operating system. At home sitting on the sofa you can use the Windows RT much like an IPAD browsing the internet, doing online banking, listening to music, etc., but it can do more of the things you do in the office as well. Corporate customers can truly begin to switch from the traditional laptop to a single device for both the office and mobile use with the Windows 8 professional version offering the power to be a true single replacement.

When it comes to specification, it is obvious that Microsoft have been doing their homework. The Windows RT is a 1/10th of a mm thinner than the IPAD and sports a larger 10.6 inch against 9.7 for the IPAD3. This means it can support true 16.9 widescreen which the IPAD can’t, which for the movie aficionado might be important. It does, however, due to this larger screen, weigh in at around 20g more. It has Gorilla glass to prevent scratching and comes with a clip on magnetic cover much like the IPAD.  However, unlike the IPAD it also doubles as a full size keyboard which makes it more “laptop” like when in use. To further extend this view it also has a built in stand so the screen can be tilted at a comfortable 22degrees mush like a laptop.

Microsoft have invested heavily in creating their own alloy for the casing and stand to make it light and strong and they say that in future they could reduce the thickness from the current 9.6mm . Other innovations also include a full-size USB2 port which means you can connect it to traditional accessories such as a mouse, keyboard, external hard drive, etc. and this should further extend its flexibility. In terms of memory it matches the industry standard of 32 and 64GB versions with the option to extend with a micro-SD port.

Although the RT is more like a laptop, Microsoft seems to think that a single device would not meet all demands, so they have brought out a 2nd product. This will run the full version of the Windows 8 professional operating system and use the Intel based chipset, unlike the ARM in the RT, but has an increased thickness and is slightly heavier. It does, however, sport a USB 3 port for added speed and flexibility. It also comes with either 64 or 128 Gb of memory, reflecting its more corporate aim point. Of course, running Windows 8, which will be the new single OS for Microsoft, means that it will run all the same programs as the traditional desk/laptop.

The real question is of course how will Windows 8 as the single OS across phones, tablets and PCs fair. Well, having used the pre-release version, I found it stable at least. The new UI will take a little while to get used to, but having used windows mobile 7.5 extensively, which has a similar look and feel, I found it quite intuitive. I am perhaps not the average user though and I think the start button will be missed, although getting used to using the “windows” button on the tablet and keyboard to return to the UI starts to feel more intuitive after a while. I found that all the programs I had loaded in Windows 7 continued to work under windows 8 and if, as I am sure many will, you can go straight from the UI to a traditional desktop and it feels very similar to windows 7, although you will note the absence of the start button on the bottom left. I am not sure how it will work with the tablet but if it works as intuitively as windows 7.5 on the mobile, it should be a winner.

So the $64000 question – is it better than the IPAD? – well, judgement must be reserved until we see its use in anger. The IPAD has been successful for good reasons. It is a quality device that is aspirational and works very well with lovely presentation and finish and IOS has a wide range of applications available for it. This alone makes it a device which everyone wants. If Microsoft can create this aspiration for their product, then they could be in a position to challenge this dominance. The majority of us are familiar with the Microsoft suite of products and use them on a day to day basis, and the ability to transfer these across to the tablet must give them a fighting chance. The Windows PC is the only platform that has more applications available for it than IOS, so this should level this playing field here, too.

In terms of the corporate user, the CIO has really been waiting for a viable competitor to Apple. The IPAD has sneaked in via the CEO/Senior management route without clear thought to its use and implications: they wanted it, so they used it. Unfortunately for IT, the management of the device has always been an issue; it is designed as a consumer device, not corporate , so does not come with the management tools necessary to make sure it fits in with corporate policies. Here with the wealth of corporate products available in the Windows world, perhaps Microsoft might finally have the advantage.

Putting out a tablet with a new OS is a gamble but is one which they needed to do now while they still retain the dominant position in the PC OS space. If they had left it much longer the erosion of their market may have reached a point of no return.  The creation of two versions could also prove to be a master stroke. It has always been difficult to create a “one fits all” device and so they have decided to try. In creating a corporate and consumer version of the same product, they might have just got it right. Only time will tell, but healthy competition can only be good, both for corporate and consumer. If this does not work, the future certainly looks to belong to the Apple!

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David Tuck, Principal Consultant

Too much security may affect business processes

July 2, 2012

A balance is needed between the protection of information and productivity within a business environment.

Policies, training and awareness, technological tools, physical security barriers – the IT security market today offers all sorts of solutions to help you protect your business from potential reputational or financial damage. However, a heavy investment in information security solutions may have a counter-productive impact on the business. It can affect the corporate culture, flow of information and operational processes, leading to inefficiencies and productivity loss. On the other hand, being too permissive can have the same result, with employees able to access, share, lose or damage sensitive data too easily. How can you find the right balance between protection and productivity?

First of all, companies have to decide just what is important to them and identify the Information Assets that need protecting, the possible risks and the scale of security controls to implement. Once you have analysed each business area and decided which parts of your business are critical, it is then possible to evaluate the appropriate means to protect that information – which could include anything from technology controls to HR disciplinary procedures. A blanket approach to security can be damaging or even counter-productive if only 10% of the organisation has been identified as a high-risk area. Heavy security measures are only needed for critical areas or systems – Finance or HR normally need more controls than Admin and Marketing, which deal with less sensitive data.

Many organisations adopt complex passwords and encryption technology because they think they should, but they do not necessarily understand what they are trying to protect and the impact on the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of Information. Excessive restrictions can have similar effects to no restrictions at all: frustrated by the time and effort needed to perform the simplest operations, staff may find ways to circumvent controls to make their lives easier, with disastrous consequences. On the other hand, opening up completely and allowing employees to access and share confidential information is of course not advisable – employers need to protect themselves from their employee’s mistakes or malicious behaviour as well.

It’s a battle between security and productivity. Most businesses are ultimately focused on making a profit; however, they are also concerned with working more efficiently, collaborating with the supply chain, partners and so on. Technology and processes adopted should help make life easier for staff and not obstruct the flow of information.  A frustrated employee might take work home because it’s easier to work from there, with fewer restrictions. They might be unable to finish work in the office due to the time spent logging in and out, waiting for approval or phoning up the Service Desk because they forgot a password. Staff won’t be willing to document and collaborate if it is too restrictive and cumbersome to do so. Experience tells us that complex passwords tend to be written down as they are too hard to remember, which defeats the purpose, like hiding your house key under the door mat. At the same time, employers could be sued or unable to claim on insurance if the correct controls weren’t in place.

Think about why you lock your doors and windows when you leave your house unoccupied: it’s the same reason that a business implements Information Security controls.  Firstly, it is to protect what you own and, secondly, you want to ensure that, in the event of a break-in, all the requirements of your insurance cover are met, i.e. Insurance companies won’t pay out if you left your back door wide open. Yet you wouldn’t lock all the internal doors and windows when you are in the house, would you? That is because most people feel that would be unnecessary and too restrictive as the house is occupied. Having adequate controls in place based on the identified risk is the same process in your home as it is in business.

However, some types of businesses require a larger amount of security measures than others. Large corporations or certain types of businesses might want or need greater security across the whole of their organisation; they are able to implement more controls, as they can afford to pay for expensive technology and even accept large fines if this protection failed, without risking immediate bankruptcy. Banks require higher levels of security because they deal with very sensitive personal information and they rely on their clients’ trust to exist. They have to be very secure and comply with all legislation, regulations and best practices. Excessive controls in this case are justifiable because they will reduce the number of security incidents, fines and crimes.

It is small and medium-size businesses that are the most concerned with finding the right balance. They cannot afford to take the risk of not adopting the necessary best practice controls. At the same time, they cannot afford to pay for a large amount of technology that is not essential to them or will cause even more disruptions and possibly lead to a loss of revenue. If a SME is too restrictive, they won’t be able to be productive. Sharing information with partners, peers and other SMEs is vital for their survival. In this environment, restricting the flow of information could hinder their growth.

Information Security is not a one-size-fits all solution – it needs to be tailored to each business depending on their respective risks and business objectives. Organisations have become over-protective because of the pressure applied by clients to protect their information, stricter regulations and larger fines. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that sometimes productivity is much more important to a business. Security measures mustn’t be so restrictive they affect business processes, nor too relaxed that they cause harm. The key is to weigh up all the risks and vulnerabilities, potential consequences and controls and then decide which information assets to protect and which can be accessed and shared openly without major consequences.  Following a risk based approach will lead to business growth and spending the right amount of time and money on the right level of protection in the right areas.

ImageDavid Cowan, Head of Consulting Services

This article was published on Infosecurity Magazine: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/26550/comment-too-much-security-may-affect-business-processes/

Windows 8 – is it any good?

July 2, 2012

I’ve downloaded and run the pre-release version of Windows 8 and personally found it very good. It is however a little different on first use with the new interface but, having also operated a Windows Mobile 7.5 phone, I found it not totally unfamiliar. Some people will take a little while to get used to it, as you really do need to start using the Windows key on your keyboard to get back to the main user interface.

Having said that, you can run a Windows desktop and it looks just the same as you have today on Windows 7 without the start button. Positioning your mouse on the left and right of the screen starts Options and once you are familiar with this, then it is quite easy to run.

One good thing about the new UI is the tiles can show information or be animated. For example, the UI could display your calendar or LinkedIn, with information on the contacts or meetings visible via the tile without actually going into the application. Also, regularly used applications can be placed directly on the UI.

The stability of the product was fine and comparable to Windows 7. In my tests it never once failed or locked up, not bad considering this is a pre-release version.

The challenge for Microsoft has definitely been to get it working with both mouse and touch screen and I think Windows 8 probably lends itself better to a touch screen. The advantage of this is to enable a true single device. Docked in the office you can use a large screen and conventional keyboard. On the train you have the touch screen. Then at home either the touchscreen or docked. But all using the same single device and the same business applications you use today. If Microsoft get Windows 8 right, Apple may have a true fight on its hands in the business tablet market.

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David Tuck, Principal Consultant

This comment has been published by the Legal Technology Insider newsletter and blog:

http://www.legaltechnology.com/the-orange-rag-blog/windows-8-first-look-does-it-mean-a-boom-for-windows-7/

Are sharks ruining the IT outsourcing market?

July 2, 2012

A recent survey of IT professionals carried out by Lieberman Software revealed that organisations are Imagelosing faith in outsourcing providers. 42 per cent of participants in the 2012 Survey of IT ProfessionalsOutsourcing claimed that their IT outsourcing agreements have cost them more or significantly more than originally planned. Moreover, 64 per cent suspected that outsourcers have made up more work to earn extra money from their organisation.

These shocking results are a strong wake-up call for the industry: service providers who are taking advantage of their position of trust are ruining the market for all IT outsourcers. Sadly, it is often the larger service providers that rely on their big name to get business which are overcharging for their services, rather than concentrating on delivering an excellent service and making their customers happy.

These outsourcers usually offer set packages where all additions have an extra cost. For instance, they will support only a certain number of calls for their fixed monthly fee; if these calls increase (often due to factors outside of client control, such as system failures or sudden increase in business) then they will be billed for all the extra volume. If the client’s structure and strategy changes and they need to adapt the IT service to cater for their new needs, even when it is a small change, this will also come at a cost. It is easy, then, to run up a bill of way more than expected.

Not all providers are sharks, though: many offer transparent and flexible solutions, where they do not charge for every little change or add-on increasing their monthly fee by far more than the initially agreed price. These are normally smaller, niche providers that have calved themselves a position within the market based on the delivery of effective and efficient Services which are fit for purpose, scalable and enable their customers Service to flex without substantial investment. These suppliers compete through their consistent quality of delivery and customer feedback. They are trusted partners and therefore they behave in a trustworthy way – simple as that.

Apart from the cost of an IT outsourcing service, there is little doubt with regards to the value of this practice. The survey, in fact, revealed that 67 per cent of respondents trust the quality of the work performed by their IT outsourcers to be about the same or more than work carried out by in-house staff.

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Pete Canavan, Head of Support Services

Find this comment on Sourcing Focus:

http://bit.ly/MLQXIP

Shared services: a problem shared is a problem halved

May 1, 2012

A problem shared is a problem halved’ – This idiom generally refers to a person feeling better simply by sharing their woes with another, and most of us would agree that this phase is more often than not, very true.  From an IT perspective, this common saying is profoundly relevant when applied to Shared Services, and in more ways than one.

To make my point, I would draw on three words from this old saying:

  • Problem
  • Shared
  • Halved

IT support typically addresses the day-to-day, on-going management of ‘problems’.  In fact, a more popular (best-practice aligned) word these days might be ‘incident’ or ‘fault’.  Whatever they’re called, IT problems are an inconvenience to all businesses, are a distraction from the business’ core competency and interrupt the effected users from their work.  Furthermore, such problems do not contribute to the successes of the business, and worst still, are a costly overhead.

In this context, ‘shared’ has a double meaning.  By engaging with another to share your troubles, the weight of that trouble is somewhat lifted.  This, in itself, is welcome relief.  But ‘shared’ can also form part of the solution if an IT Shared Serviced is properly considered as an alternative to managing problems, incidents or faults, in-house.

Halved’, not be taken literally, is a reference to the measure of gain achieved by sharing the problem.  Use of a shared service can (and should) lead to a measurable improvement in service and reductions is cost.

As a result of the recent economic downturn and period of unprecedented financial uncertainty, providers of shared IT services have had to become very, very good at what they do.  Without stepping up to the mark, and indeed, extending the mark, IT service providers would simply slip by the wayside (and many of them have).  It is, therefore, a good thing for businesses that IT service providers have been forced to compete so aggressively with one another because it has led to new levels of service excellence and reductions in cost.

So, by referencing (for one last time) the proverb – ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, businesses do have a chance of sharing the burden of IT support with others who are better placed to manage it whilst at the same time improving on service and reducing cost, but only if they are willing to consider the possibility of outsourcing their IT support needs.

Jon Reeve, Principal Consultant

Visit Plan-Net‘s website and learn more about what we do and how we can help your business: http://www.plan-net.co.uk

NEWS: Plan-Net expands UK’s only 24/7/365 shared, legal-dedicated IT support service

April 17, 2012

News release – for immediate release

17-04-2012

Service Provider Plan-Net Plc. is extending its unique 24-hour legal-dedicated IT support service to include more clients. After successfully running it with selected organisations for a period of time, the shared service is available to a limited number of City law firms.

Plan-Net’s central London legal-dedicated service centre caters for all of the requirements of a modern law firm; 24-hour availability, including weekends and bank holidays, high levels of customer service and security, high response rates, specialist knowledge of legal technology, and global reach.  The service is also modelled to align with each client’s individual IT support operations.

Plan-Net are restricting the number of firms that can participate in order to maintain quality levels of response, fix-rate and customer service.

Richard Forkan, Director at Plan-Net, said:

“Speaking to our clients in the legal sector over a number of years, it has become clear that a gap in the market exists for a legal-dedicated service that can meet the unique requirements of this sector.

With law firms under increasing pressure to maximize chargeable hours, the need to keep fee earning lawyers productive is not just limited to standard working hours.

We’re also seeing more and more UK law firms expand internationally and specifically in the middle and Far East requiring IT support to be truly 24/7.

The only options available to law firms in the UK at the moment are either to invest in their own in-house out-of-hours capability, which is a huge expense, or use a generic service which doesn’t accommodate the unique service models, applications and customer service requirements of individual legal firms.

Our legal-dedicated service has been built in specific response to the market, combining the cost savings of a shared service with the specific expertise and service levels needed in the legal sector.”

———————————————————————————————–

Notes to the editor

  • There are limited places available in the Shared Service Centre. Law firms that are interested in participating should contact Plan-Net on 020 7353 4313 or send a message through this Contact Us form: http://www.plan-net.co.uk/contact-us
  • About Plan-Net

A specialist in transforming IT operations into high-performance, cost-efficient platforms for business success, Plan-Net is the service provider of choice for organisations in need of a tailored solution to suit their specific needs. Its focus on achieving high levels of availability, capability, response and customer service benefits clients demanding tangible competitive business advantage from their IT.

Plan-Net’s Support and Consultancy Services have helped clients enhance IT performance, flexibility, security, cost-efficiency and user-productivity for over two prosperous decades.

Website: www.plan-net.co.uk

Blog: https://plannetplc.wordpress.com/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/PlanNetplc

  • Press contact:

Samantha Selvini

Press Officer, Plan-Net plc

Tel: 020 7632 7990

Email: samantha.selvini@plan-net.co.uk

Just how much of a saving is the reduction of heads from an IT support team?

March 20, 2012

ImageIn a bid to meet the demands of an FD who needs to see cost savings across the organisation, often it’s a portion of an IT team that have to go.  On the face of it, it’s an easy choice.  Those within an IT team will often perform the same functions as one another, therefore, if one or more leave the team, it can still perform all its required tasks, albeit a bit slower than before.

But what might not have been considered in such decision making is the organisation’s profile of staff’s expected IT skills and the speed-of-service demands.  If the two are considered together, an optimal ratio of IT staff to company staff can be derived which can be used as a benchmark against any planned reductions in heads.

Definitions:

Staff’s expected IT skills – Some business environments may have a low expectation on its staff in terms of their IT skills.  A law firm is a good example as it’s more beneficial to the organisation if their legal teams are fee earning (by practicing law), instead of being able to clear their own printer jams.  Other organisations, perhaps a software house, will have employees who are more than capable of dealing with common IT issues.  In these examples, the law firm is clearly going to need a greater ratio of IT support people to staff members than the software house.

Speed-of-service demand – An investment bank, or indeed any organisation that is wholly reliant on IT to trade, will tolerate only the most minor of IT interruptions, whereas some business types might be able to suffer IT delays for hours, or even days, without any particular impact on their business.  Those with the need for greater speed of service, or even immediate need for service, will require a greater ratio of IT support people to staff members compared with those that don’t.

If these two aspects of a business’ IT culture are considered together, one can begin to determine the optimal number of IT support people to staff members.

For organisations with a low expectation of staff’s IT skills, but who need rapid IT support, a ratio of 1 support person to every 50 members of staff, might be appropriate.  The other extreme, high staff IT skills coupled with lower speeds of support, may lead to a ratio of 1 support person to every 200 members of staff.

Then, if there is a need to cut heads, a more informed choice may be made, i.e. just how many heads may be lost without: a) requiring the established IT culture to change, or b) having a detrimental impact of the organisation’s ability to trade?

Of course, this thought process and logic need not only apply to difficult times, when reducing costs is a priority.  It can apply to times of business success and be used as a means of determining the best IT support fit for the business.

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Jon Reeve, Principal Consultant