What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
IT Force was very good at helping us apply patches without letting our business suffer. Everything was scheduled at an hour to ensure users had prior notice of downtimes, and it all worked nicely. They brought us back to an efficient speed, and it has improved things. The issues with slowness don’t seem to be quite as problematic as they used to be.
They are relatively new to us, but we’re already seeing significant differences. In our strategic meetings, I’ve received more from IT Force in three months than my previous supplier in 13 years. I’m hoping we’ll see a reduction in the number of IT support queries, and I can already see signs of things heading in that direction.
At the moment, they’re still acquainting themselves with our individual quirks. We have Bespoke software here, and they’re just taking over handling all those queries as well. They’ve been doing a great job. They’re putting all these processes in our runbook, which is much more clear and understandable. Anyone in the NOC [network operations center] will be able to pick it up and perform some straightforward, easily-corrected fixes. It’ll enable out staff to correct issues themselves and teach people what they’re doing wrong.
The approach is made in a way to reduce support queries in the future, and to enable our own staff to try to become less reliant on third party vendors. We had a number of people who had provided third party support to us for these applications, and IT Force is now managing this as well. Indicators are positive, but it’s still too early to tell from a statistical standpoint.
How did IT Force perform from a project management standpoint?
We had a major outage in our building here, and also had a power problem with an electric fault within the building, which brought down our servers. When the power was restored, the Hyper-V clusters wouldn’t come back up the way they should’ve due to a physical problem in the SAN [storage area network]. IT Force brought out engineers, and they were on site within minutes. They physically came into our office and remained here to keep the staff informed throughout the process while they contacted Dell support. They had physical boards dispatched to us to help remedy the issue that same day. It was all really exceptional, and very different than what we were used to. They gave us more than we asked for.
They produced a very clear report afterwards which detailed the root cause analysis and explained what we needed to do to address this as part of our solution. They had just started, and hadn’t yet had a chance to address their own recommendations by the time this happened. It was great to see how they responded, as well as how they dealt with IT problems and the staff. They kept people informed and told them what was happening the whole day. They provided workarounds where they could make sure the most important functions remained, despite difficulties.
Their performance has given us great confidence in their capacity to cope with a crisis. They provide comprehensive services in terms of support. Time can be a major factor for us, and we have clients who are less organized. Having IT Force available all hours of the day and night is really important to us. Their support has also allowed me to do other things, and has also allowed our staff to access support when they need it. They’ve been of significant benefit to us.
What did you find most impressive about them?
What they were willing to prove to us during the month trial period was impressive. We were a bit skeptical as to whether a managed service could add this much more value. They were willing to step outside of their own comfort zones to accommodate and prove to us that they were going to meet expectations. They also had the courage and conviction to tell us when they couldn’t do something. Their approach helped set realistic expectations on both sides, and we exactly what type of partnership we were getting into.
We have a virtual CIO who talks to us about our site and makes recommendations to drive gradual improvement. They can be quite stubborn if we make suggestions which aren’t practiced, and they don’t like to make poor service calls. I like that they support me in my role of convincing the directors that the quick fix isn’t always the right one. They are dedicated to making the right decision as much as is humanly possible.
Their guidance and capacity to give advice is great, and I see the difference from the previous vendor. They’re lovely people, and their motives are in the right place. It give us a better future as a company to have this level of forward planning.
Are there any areas they could improve?
It’s hard to tell yet, because we’re still getting out system set up according to their rules and specifications. We can log our tickets with their NOC [network operations center] or their support. IT Force’s communication is more unified and consistent than our old provider, which we appreciate.
IT Force doesn’t recognize our directors in their NOC yet, so they may not be getting priority treatment. It’s an interesting observation, but it’s not a weakness. It’s simply a statement of their procedural nature. Therefore, they don’t give preferential treatment for any one employee over another.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
They have a different service offering than an average IT firm. It takes a bit to set up and establish the way things need to work with them, but it’s worth the time and effort. The time that we’ve spent with their team is paying off in terms of what we’ve set up in regards to procedures. In time, they will get used to who our directors are, as well as the rest of us. Things will eventually fall into place. By having a well-written procedures book, it’ll give everyone a better overall standard.