When we are invited to quote services for a company we often have many questions during the first visit, which typically generates more questions for which we’ll need answers in order to craft the most effective plan for managing the computing environment for that client. Many business owners initially see us as contractors – someone they outsource particular services to – but we nearly always end up operating more like a partner in the business. We treat each client as if we are responsible for the success of their company because that is how we think it should be.
We tend to ask questions as if we owned the client’s business, but simply based on our experience as technicians and consultants. We exist to ensure that their entire computing environment (the computers, network, printers, servers, etc.) does two things:
- Operates efficiently
- Continues to operate efficiently every day
By using the word “efficient” we mean “exactly what the company needs.” No more, and no less. That takes some careful planning and plenty of questions that relate to the inner-workings of what the company does and how they do it.
That initial visit, though, starts with some standard questions to get the client thinking in terms of business continuity – that is, how the business will continue to operate given certain scenarios. These inquiries usually begin with “What would you do if….” We’ll typically pick out a single computer and ask, “What would you do if this computer didn’t turn on Monday morning?”
The answer is “Uh, we’d really be in trouble,” more often than not.
In business, things happen. Employees quit. Lightning strikes. Vendors don’t deliver. Customers don’t pay. Computers break. Every business owner has dealt with problems like these, and from our experience they don’t really have plans for these events – they just end up on top of the pile of things every business owner is tasked with, and that is – simply put – not healthy.
If a computer breaks or stops working for whatever reason, they call a technician to repair it. Many people seem to consider their computers as single-use appliances, when really they do so many different things and stop working for any number of reasons. Just figuring out what happened and how takes quite a while sometimes. It’s never straightforward, and getting things back to the way they were can cause operational delays.
What we’re here to help with is less focused on fixing the computer and more on your ability to continue doing business. Here are some things we’re going to ask about:
- Internet service. Who provides your Internet service, and what services that you provide depend on an Internet connection?
- Individual computers. Think about each computer used in your company, and imagine the impact of that computer not functioning. How long can you do without it?
- Software used. When a hard drive crashes and there is no backup, what software will need to be re-installed? Do you have the license keys for that software documented and stored in a safe place?
- Various data. What documents and files will need to be found and restored if a disk crashes, the computer is lost or stolen, or if inclement weather damages your place of business? Can your business survive the loss?
As a business owner, ask yourself these questions. We provide monitoring and management of our clients’ networks, and maintain documentation on each client’s environment. This allows us to know how things are set up, so when something happens we have a plan to restore programs, settings, and other items to the way they were before the incident – quickly. Preparation and planning for these eventualities is paramount to continuing operations. If you don’t have the time and need some advice, we would be happy to help you create and execute a plan.