In trying to come up with a managed service blog entry, I’ve decided to write about an experience I had as a managed services customer, rather than as the manager of the LookingPoint Managed Services Team. Years ago, working for the first corporation in my career that had a full-time managed service agreement, I had an eye-opening experience.
I had been hired as a full-time Systems Administrator, with the initial goal of coming in and leading the charge on an upgrade of Active Directory. As I started in my new role, as happens from time to time in IT, I was asked to help with a crisis. That crisis was followed by another, then another, and so on. From the Cisco networking gear, to the Call Manager cluster, to permission issues between the various server operating systems, I took all requests and worked on them until a resolution was reached. Spending so much time on these crises didn’t leave much bandwidth to focus on my primary objective, however. Then, the unthinkable happened - our dependable, over-worked helpdesk engineer transferred to another department to focus on development. That’s when I became the company’s helpdesk department by default. At this point in time, the company had around 250 employees, and was growing. As we sought to subsidize our helpdesk “team” my boss mentioned that we had a contract with a company called LookingPoint, and maybe I could reach out for help. LookingPoint doesn’t provide helpdesk support, but they did help out with the network & phone system. This allowed me to focus on the helpdesk requests while their engineers kept the crises that continued to build under control.
After struggling through that difficult time, we eventually hired 2, then 3 new team members to add to our helpdesk crew. I thought that would allow me to shift my focus back to what I was initially supposed to do, but by this time the company had almost doubled in size to over 400 employees. The helpdesk requests were better covered, but the constant reaction to crisis after crisis hadn’t stopped, and now it was obvious that we had failed to keep our systems up to date or do anything proactive in our environment. Enter LookingPoint once again! Not only had they been a huge help in putting out the “fires”, they had brilliant engineers who really knew their stuff and an account manager to talk numbers. We sat in a room to talk about getting our AD upgrade done once and for all. We talked about what we wanted to get done, what we wanted to spend, and when we wanted to get it done by. LookingPoint came back with a plan of attack, a timeframe, and a quote. Once we worked out the specifics, I convinced my boss to take me out of circulation on the reactionary tasks to focus on this goal, and I was able to meet with an engineer and get to work. We were able to do more in 2 days than I had been able to do in over 6 months. Out of this experience, the following was obvious:
1) I was working with a professional that came to this with a fully developed plan.
2) There was a level of discipline that was surreal - displayed in the great lengths he went to in order to provide fantastic documentation. (This would be invaluable in future troubleshooting & additional development of the environment.
3) I wasn’t working with just one engineer, but an entire team that was able to help with multiple requests across many technologies.
4) This company wasn’t focused on just completing a task and getting out of Dodge. At every step of the way I received suggestions for improvement, and best practice recommendations based on the expertise that comes from seeing multiple environments and being exposed to hours upon hours of troubleshooting.
My eyes were opened to the fact that there was a company out there that could help IT departments just like the one I was in. As I thought back to the various companies I’ve worked for and the occasional feelings of helplessness, the eventual awareness that the vendor’s tech support rep on the other end of the line was greener than a New Jersey blade of grass (it’s the garden state) I had a realization: The value of a managed service contract was so multi-faceted, why wouldn’t every company have a partnership with an MSP? In my past employment, it could’ve helped me in times when the workload was too heavy to meet deadlines; times where a new technology required an expert; even in times when regular maintenance just got left on the back burner too long. After this experience, and more just like it, I knew I wanted to be a part of providing that service, help, and expertise that I could have used countless times throughout my career. Today I am lucky enough to be the Service Delivery Manager for LookingPoint and part of a great team doing just that.
Written By: Ryan Alibrando, Service Delivery Manager for LookingPoint, Inc.