The title

Category: IT Services

Why The Man With The Van Is Redundant

It is an inescapable reality that most businesses rely heavily on technology, and of the many challenges facing the small business owner many of these relate to IT – issues such as “Who manages your IT?  and How do you deal with IT support and maintenance?

A multi-national corporation with over 1,000 employees has the budget to hire its own IT team. But what about smaller companies? The ongoing problem for the small business owner is how to get effective, cost-efficient support for their technology platform. Many treat IT support and maintenance in the same way as dealing with car maintenance – for example: a printer isn’t working/a tire is flat so call the IT support guy/garage.

The “man with the van” may provide a solution to the immediate problem, but that is ALL he does because his service is reactive.

If your business is reliant on IT please consider the following critical questions:


[1] How long can your business survive without key data?

 

How long would your business last if you experienced a hard drive failure? Imagine losing important customer files and trying to explain to your clients how this happened. If your immediate response to this question is to say: “But we back up our data regularly!” –  sure you may have a back up strategy but do you regularly test your strategy to ensure that you are 100% sure you are able to recover your data in the event of a major disaster or loss.

Statistics show that 60% of backups are incomplete, and 50% of restores failed.


[2] How do you protect the “crown jewels” of your business?

 

How do you protect commercially sensitive data? How do you protect client data held on your computers?

Do you realise that every third party who has access to your IT systems potentially has access to all of your secrets?

What level of security assessment do you undertake on any third-party you bring into your company to undertake IT support and maintenance?


[3] Are you maximising your ROI in your IT assets?

 

  1. Are your computers up-to-date for necessary patches, security issues and updates?
  2. Do you know the exact the locations, counts and disposition of all of your IT assets?
  3. How do you know which of your hardware and software needs updating, upgrading or replacing?
  4. Are you over-licensed on software and thus wasting money?
  5. How do you know that you are getting your money’s worth from independent consultants and vendors?

The Solution

 

The fundamental issue with the traditional “man with the van” approach to IT support and maintenance is that it is reactive.

The solution is to employ an approach and a methodology that anticipates potential problems BEFORE they become an issue and that implements an automated solution in the background.

This solution is provided by partnering with an IT management and support service who provide a Remote Management and Monitoring [RMM] service incorporating a proprietary technology that:

  • Detects problems and identifies potential hazards before they ever impact your company.
  • Provides 24/7 real-time systems status monitoring updates every five minutes.
  • Provides continual updates regarding the state of hardware and software, including logs, performance metrics, patches, antivirus and more.
  • Is continually watching for unusual events, and many of these have fully automated responses.

This proactive solution is the complete reverse of the usual approach of acting AFTER a problem occurs.

This results in a significant increase in productivity, as problems are rectified in the background, without interrupting users, and before they escalate and become a major issue.

Whilst the technology that provides this service is complex and sophisticated, the connection of your business to this service is incredibly simple involving no more than 3 clicks of a mouse!

PASR Technologies provide this service and we would be delighted to speak with you to understand  your issues and to explain more about how your business could benefit from this solution.

Servicing businesses from 10 to up to 200 employees, our clients range from local SMEs through to regional offices of larger MNCs, and include airlines.

At PASR Technologies, we solve your IT problems before you even realize you have one!

 

 


Licensed to Waste Money?

Over the 20 or so years that we have worked with business owners and senior management of organizations with less that 200 staff we regularly come across the same, repeated concerns facing SME IT management.

In other articles we have illustrated a number of examples of how the small business owner’s lack of knowledge can be an exposure for the business, and we have highlighted the business impacts of dual role/part-time IT management.


Over-Licensing Software To Avoid Under-Licensing Penalties

 

One major recurring issue that we encounter is that most SME organizations generally have very little idea what IT assets they own.

They understand that under-licensing can result in criminal prosecution for the directors, so they continue to buy software, as they are unable to conclusively determine just how many licenses they may have already purchased.

The business impact of their inability to determine just how many licenses they already have means that they are wasting too much money on procuring licenses for software.

This point is well illustrated in a recent study which investigated IT in SMEs and quotes a senior manager of an accounting practice:

“There is no control over what software has been loaded on the PCs… there is often
different versions of all software on all the PCs depending on when they brought them”.


Stop Wasting Money On Unnecessary Licenses!

 

When you know exactly the locations, counts and disposition of all of IT assets, you can plan for equipment obsolescence, replacement and upgrades and instead of buying additional licenses, your existing licenses can, in many cases, be redeployed, thus reducing your overall cost of purchases.

Put simply you can stop wasting money on unnecessary licenses!

We can provide your organization with a cost-effective solution to the visibility, security and utilization of all your IT assets. This lowers IT operating costs and keeps you in control.

We do this via PASR’s Real-time Asset Management platform, whereby we are able to maintain a thorough and accurate real-time inventory of all hardware and software IT assets. The business benefits are that you:

  • Always know exactly what your organization owns.
  • Get accurate snapshots of your company’s hardware and software assets anytime you need them.
  • Consistently have the precise information necessary to make wise decisions.

If you would like to discuss this issue and what it means for your business, please get in touch. Since inception in 1996, PASR Technologies has been providing SME business owners with a level of service and support to the SME business owner
that is typically only directly available in very large organisations.

Servicing businesses from 10 to up to 200 employees, our clients range from local SMEs through to regional offices of larger MNCs, and include airlines.

At PASR Technologies, we solve your IT problems before you even realize you have one!


 

 

 

Who Manages Your IT?

A recent study which investigated IT in SMEs quotes a senior manager of an accounting practice:

“We have had trained IT staff once. Like in any accounting firms there is always staff turnover. In the past we had two very good people that were very knowledgeable about computers. I got  the management function of IT in the firm by default when they left”.

We work with business owners and senior management of organizations with less that 200 staff providing a one-stop shop for all their IT infrastructure needs. We have been doing this since 1996. Over this time we regularly come across the same, repeated concerns facing SME management. Regardless of business sector, the same challenges continue to crop up. One of the biggest issues is: “Who manages the company’s IT?”

For large companies with over 10,000 users it is easy – they have an IT Director with a fully staffed IT department to cater for all their IT requirements.

The challenge is that managing IT in an SME environment of under 200 users is not a full time job.

When you have 10 (or 100) staff, it’s a much more difficult question. So who actually does it?

As with the accounting firm mentioned above, it is almost certainly undertaken on a part-time basis by a manager or director with other responsibilities. But this approach carries risks and can have a detrimental impact on the business.


The business impacts of “part-time”/dual function IT management

 

Let’s briefly consider 3 typical scenarios:

[1] If, as an owner-manager, you do it yourself it takes time, and that means time away from building your core business. This also assumes that you fully up-to-date in the IT field, and staying up-to-date takes even more time – i.e. time away from your core business. Conversely, NOT staying up-to-date can also have a negative impact on your business. So the reality is that is a “catch 22” situation.

[2] If one your staff members does it, assuming they are sufficiently ‘up to speed’ with IT to provide support, they also lose valuable time and that distracts them and diminishes their core value to your business.

[3] Or, maybe like many companies, you have a guy who comes in as and when needed to deal with problems on a one-off basis. This can work out fine when dealing with the “known knowns”  – BUT [and this is a very big “but”] what about the “unknown unknowns”? For example, how do you deal with the problems that you don’t know about, like security, malware protection, data leakage?


If you would like to discuss this issue and what it means for your business, please get in touch. Since inception in 1996, PASR Technologies has been providing SME business owners with a level of service and support to the SME business owner that is typically only directly available in very large organisations.

Servicing businesses from 10 to up to 200 employees, our clients range from local SMEs through to regional offices of larger MNCs, and include airlines.

At PASR Technologies, we solve your IT problems before you even realize you have one!

 

The Black Art of SPAM Prevention

Most organisations today categorise email as mission-critical to their business, and so the ability to reliably send and receive emails receives a lot of attention from us. However, as we are all aware, the amount of junk mail – ‘SPAM’ – received is a continuing annoyance.

A quick check of our servers shows that over the past three months, a massive 53% (of nearly 1/2 million emails) of all emails received were suspect. Now obviously it would be great if we could simply block such messages, but detection of SPAM is more a black art than a defined science, and so SPAM filters must be continually adjusted and refined to ensure all real/valid emails get through (zero false-positives) while all SPAM is blocked. We could simply turn off SPAM filters, but generally this would result in 50% extra emails reaching each users’ inbox – a situation no user wants to contemplate.


Breakdown of the 53% Suspect Emails

 

Breaking down the above 53% shows that:

  • 2% of all emails contain malware – Viruses, Trojans etc – we definitely do not want these passed through.
  • 31% of all emails are from known spammers  – we want these blocked automatically, but as some users want to see some of these, we need to provide a mechanism whereby they can be retrieved.
  • 20% of all emails are where we have to be somewhat creative and apply our black-art talents to separating the wheat from the chaff, and it’s this 20% that seems to cause the most questions and mis-deliveries.

How to determine the validity of incoming email?

 

So what ‘black arts’ do we employ to determine the validity of this 20% (90,000) of messages? Essentially, each and every message is tested and given a Spam Confidence Level (SCL) score, and when it gets above a defined level, it is tagged as SPAM. Virtually all anti-SPAM solutions – whether in-house, or in-cloud, software-based or appliance-based – employ some or more of the following checks:

  1. Reputation of Sender:
    1. Is the sending server on a blacklist? This occurs when a recipient reports receiving SPAM from a server, and is placed on one or more of the 100+ blacklisting organisations.
    2. Is the sending server properly set up with a fixed address – determined by whether it has a Reverse-DNS (RDNS) entry. (Spammers will use arbitrary/impermanent servers).
    3. Does the sending organisation designate approved sending servers – via the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) stipulated in DNS
  2. Message Content:
    1. Does the message subject or content contain known SPAM-like words – such as ‘Drugs’, ‘Viagra’ and so on.
    2. Does the message contain multiple languages, such as combined English & Chinese?
  3. Message Distribution:
    1. How many recipients is the message sent to? More than a handful generally means the message is more likely to be Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE).
  4. User Overrides:
    1. Has a given user either black-listed or white-listed a particular address?
    2. has a given user chosen to be more or less aggressive in their application of the above checks?

How to ensure that emails we send get read?

I trust from the above readers can get an idea of the issues we face in categorizing SPAM for delivery, and I trust that readers will also see that it’s very much an imperfect ‘guesstimation’ at best, and there is little as recipients we can do to more accurately qualify messages. But what should we do to ensure that messages we send get the highest possible chance to be delivered?

  • We MUST have adequate malware protection for inbound emails, and ideally also scan outbound emails for malware to ensure we do not compromise our message recipients.
  • We must properly designate and authenticate our outbound servers – via RDNS, SPF – and ensure all mails from our domain are sent only from these servers. This may not be just your corporate email server: – we must also check any other servers that send emails on behalf of our domain: -for example if our website sends emails, then it must also be properly designated and authenticated.
  • We must regularly check that our sending servers have not been blacklisted.
  • If we regularly need to send messages to more than a handful of recipients, we should consider using a third-party service rather than send such ‘mail-blasts’ through our own servers – which reduces the likelihood of getting our servers blacklisted.
  • If we send Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) as a Singapore organisation, we must ensure the subject line contains <ADV> and we must provide (and act on) an unscubscribe link – to ensure we comply with legislation, or otherwise face the risk of legal action against us.

If you would like to discuss this issue and what it means for your business, please get in touch. Since inception in 1996, PASR Technologies has been providing SME business owners with a level of service and support to the SME business owner that is typically only directly available in very large organisations.

Servicing businesses from 10 to up to 200 employees, our clients range from local SMEs through to regional offices of larger MNCs, and include airlines.

At PASR Technologies, we solve your IT problems before you even realize you have one!

 

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