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Tips and Advice for the Best Managed IT Assessment

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8 min read

tips for best managed IT assessment

These days, there’s no excuse for not getting the best possible managed IT assessment to gauge the true measure of your office environment. Whether you’re an IT professional or the office manager, it’s your duty to stay on top of it.

How does your current IT provider really measure up? When was the last time an IT assessment was done? If you’re not getting the right kind of constant attention from your current IT provider, it’s probably time to evaluate alternatives.

A good managed services provider can deliver a more robust analysis than your current IT vendor might give you — often free of charge. Without a network and security assessment, including dark web scan, with all the required tools, skills and legwork, you’ll never know where you might be at risk until it’s too late.

Be reassured, there’s no need to panic if you get a disastrous assessment. A capable, strategic IT partner will also bring recommendations along with the evaluation. This guide gives you a quick look at what to expect from the best managed IT assessments, like the Novatech Office X-ray.

Best Managed IT Assessment Looks at These Three Areas

The Novatech Office X-ray differs from the typical tech assessment because it involves multiple assessments at the same time, each using best-in-breed tools and practices.

  • Networking security
  • Managed (or unmanaged) print
  • Managed IT and cloud

What Can You Learn from a Managed IT Assessment?

Your Office X-ray team will use objectively gathered data and evidence to simply document where you’re really at when it comes to IT. If the findings point to a serious need for change, a knowledge-sharing vendor wants you to know that, whether you engage them or not. A good managed services partner educates buyers, and trains its customer-facing teams to maintain that focus.

The value of an Office X-ray — it gives you the truth. It’s a report card on where you are, not a high-level, generic impression of the state of your office environment. Expect specifics like:

  • How many users remain active on your server, but haven’t logged in for 30 days?
  • How many PCs, printers, servers and other devices are on the network?
  • Does a dark web scan reveal any usernames and passwords for sale?

What Tools Does an “Office X-ray” Assessment Require?

Ask any potential provider about their assessment tool choices and how their use may impact security. Managed Services Providers (MSPs) use tools like the popular RapidFire solutions for non-intrusive data collection and automated reporting. The software is well known to IT professionals, who recognize that RapidFire isn’t a cybersecurity risk.

With robust technology like RapidFire tools, the technology assessment process has matured from just taking inventory to really diving into networks, cybersecurity and other interconnected pieces of the managed office. Managed services providers recommend RapidFire solutions because the company has done a good job developing new functionalities. Ask any MSPs you’re considering if they use RapidFire or something else to assess networking security.

Going Onsite: Essential Step for Best Managed IT Assessment

Another Office X-ray step that shouldn’t be ignored, especially when it comes to network security, is someone actually coming on-site for an in-person evaluation.

Managed IT providers use this visit to:

  • Take pictures of infrastructure, firewalls, switches, routers
  • Get model and serial numbers of those devices
  • Determine what is end-of-sale/support and end-of-life

As far as necessary skills go, the vendor-side team should be solid and technical. A solutions architect designs and recommends solutions around what you have and then what they think you need. Trained technical professionals figure out problems and requirements, then design solutions to fix them. No two businesses are ever the same. Even across locations, there can be differences, and experience and training will catch those.

Spot MSP Differences: Look for the One Who Goes Deeper

While assessment tools are a big part of the learning process, avoid the vendor who just runs the tool without any context or interpretation. Seek out the partner goes deeper in their exploration, the one who:

  • Brings good but tough questions
  • Takes pictures of your infrastructure
  • Delivers actionable data

 

Those three components make up the best managed IT assessment. In fact, some people say it’s not a full IT assessment if the vendor doesn’t do at least two of these three. If a vendor can’t run a tool or get server password access, and a business isn’t willing for a solutions architect to take pictures on-site, then that’s not an assessment. It should be two of the three at a minimum for a best-practice managed IT assessment.

Don’t settle for an IT assessment that stops at a discussion about the data and findings. A standout managed IT assessment takes you a step further with a roadmap. These providers know it’s not good practice to move forward without a solid understanding of the IT current situation. That’s the MSP partner who:

  • Downloads everything they find
  • Documents needs and requirements
  • Prepares findings and recommendations
  • Creates a formal executive summary

No Server – No Problem

Some providers can do network and security assessments anywhere in the world, as long as they can remotely access a server. A network security assessment won’t work if the business doesn’t have a server where diagnostic tools can capture data.

Managed IT vendors run into this often now, because so many businesses have gone to the cloud. At that point, a skilled assessment team can still capture useful information by going on site, asking questions and taking pictures.

When a business does have an on-premises server, the objection to the assessment may be, “We don’t know you, and we don’t want you on our server.” If that’s your situation, look for the assessment provider whose tool doesn’t install anything. It doesn’t delete anything. It doesn’t look at any personal data.

It’s also understandable that a business wouldn’t want to alert their current IT provider a change might be imminent. That’s why the best partners insist on an approach that keeps current data and relationships safe and unaffected. The RapidFire tool for assessments and reports, for example, is recognized as not obtrusive.

How Long Does a Managed IT Assessment Take?

The different “strains” of Office X-ray assessments — IT, print, security – typically launch at the same time, but don’t necessarily follow the same path. They have their own life cycles, as you go through the overall assessment process.

For example, a managed print assessment is best done over a 30-day period to capture your true monthly print activity. However, parts of a solid assessment and findings can be delivered in as few as five days. In that case, you may receive results of the managed IT analysis before the managed print component, but eventually all pieces of the assessment come together under the Novatech Managed Office.

A good rule of thumb is it takes about two weeks for a solutions architect to do their work, but some vendors can capture the necessary data in a surprisingly short time frame. In some cases, the assessment tool takes just one hour to run. Specialists go in, and while the tool is running, they take pictures, ask questions, and then they’re out.

The solutions architect usually takes four to five business days to research and evaluate all of the things they now know about your situation and write the executive summary. They can be in and out quickly, but do consider giving as much time as you can spare for a thorough upfront analysis.

One reason a business may request a quick in-and-out evaluation is they don’t want their current provider to know they are usually looking to switch. Another reason for fast action is when leadership is dissatisfied with IT overall, and wants to move quickly to find a viable solution and make a change.

If your management is eager to get moving right away, or your situation demands immediate attention, a flexible managed services provider can deliver results in a modular way and schedule a review meeting without delay. Often within a week you can start getting IT up to speed.

What to Expect in Your Assessment Review Meeting

Typically, the MSP takes time for good analysis (thanks to the help of their reporting tools), then comes back to you for a review meeting. Vendor-side attendees at this discussion might include the account rep, a systems engineer and the solutions architect, all focused on explaining what the data means and how to best make it actionable in IT, print, cloud and security.

Imagine the assessment results downloaded onto a whiteboard – everything they found, what the tool captured, what the questions and answers told them — all on the table for a live discussion.

Because there’s so much to the analysis, the right vendor should also develop an executive summary for you divided into segments of technology for:

  • The users
  • The servers
  • The infrastructure

 

This makes it easier for you, your team and your management to absorb and act on the data.

It’s written to IT directors, but should be clear enough that it doesn’t talk over people’s heads. As you go through a decision process within your organization, anyone can read the summary and grasp the value and opportunity without assistance.

And remember, all this knowledge is probably brought to you at no charge so far. A case could be made for a monetary Office X-ray value of several thousands of dollars or more, but some providers include this analysis as part of their investment in building a relationship with you. It may also depend on the size and complexity of your network and infrastructure. Smaller businesses of 20 employees or fewer may encounter a fee, while mid-sized organizations of 20+ employees might be eligible for complimentary evaluations.

Why Can’t We Do The Assessment Ourselves?

You may be asking yourself, “Can’t we just do this ourselves?” Possibly, but first you’d have to go through a provider to get the right tools. Most of the solutions like RapidFire aren’t sold retail, and then you’d have to:

  • Learn how to use the tool
  • Run it correctly
  • Extract information from it
  • Interpret the data
  • Create a multi-faceted action plan

 

So there’s no realistic way (or need) for many businesses to do internally what they would get with the best managed IT assessments.

The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Reactions from companies when they see the results vary, but normally they’re surprised. You rightfully feel you’ve been paying a company to manage various IT areas, and you’re not getting your money’s worth. It can be shocking. Honestly, a good managed IT assessment should poke holes in your current strategy — if the risks are indeed there. That’s why you want to ask for the data that backs up the recommendations.

Whether you do anything with the assessment or not, that’s in your hands. If you’re concerned enough to even think about a managed IT assessment, perhaps you know something’s not right. Usually ignoring IT problems and sub-par performance doesn’t fix itself. Your situation will only get worse if you suspect there’s an IT problem. Inertia isn’t your friend. Best to launch the best managed IT assessment now. (Just complete the short form on this page if you want immediate assistance.)

This is a complex subject, but we’ve got more resources you might find helpful:

Five Factors that Impact Your Managed IT Services Costs

Is Technical Capability Embedded in Your Business DNA?

Written By: Editorial Team