In the mainframe era, computer systems were housed in a specialized room and closely tended by IT professionals — a tightly controlled setting known as a “glass house.” Today, IT equipment is often housed in any available space and managed as time permits or issues as arise. Few organizations have the IT operational rigor of the mainframe environment, and that creates a number of problems.

A reactive approach to managing IT equipment is called “firefighting.” The term refers to the allocation of resources to handle unexpected issues on an emergency basis. Not all problems can be foreseen, so some degree of firefighting is required in any IT department. When IT teams are often spread too thin, however, they often neglect to follow rigorous processes based upon industry best practices. Reactive IT management becomes the status quo.

A recent survey found that IT departments deal with an average of 16 unexpected issues each week, each of which takes an average of two hours to resolve. That adds up to 32 hours per week putting out fires. Clearly, the reactive approach to managing IT operations is ineffective and inefficient.

A lack of well-defined IT operational processes can also lead to performance problems and downtime. The study found that, in between firefighting tasks, 38 percent of IT managers deal with weekly network slowdowns or outages, 34 percent face weekly issues with availability, and 39 percent say applications are performing poorly. In other words, more than one-third of IT organizations aren’t delivering the kind of service that users and customers demand.

Worst of all, a reactive approach to IT means the business isn’t taking full advantage of technology. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, which says that 80 percent of IT’s time and resources are dedicated to “keeping the lights on” while just 20 percent are spent developing innovative solutions that drive the business forward.  Firefighting hinders IT innovation by limiting the resources available for new initiatives.

IT organizations need the right people, the right processes and the right tools to manage today’s complex IT environments and meet the incredibly high demands of users and customers. They expect that network connections will be fast and uninterrupted, and applications and data will be easily accessible from any device. Any issues that arise will be addressed promptly and accurately to minimize productivity-killing downtime.

Managed services are capable of restoring order and injecting operational rigor into an IT environment. A good managed services provider (MSP) won’t just come in and take over your broken processes. If that were the case, you would just be offloading the firefighting that wastes your IT department’s time.

Best-in-class MSPs first redefine operational processes to follow best practices. They automate tasks when possible to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Managed services also add a level of accountability because the provider must meet the requirements spelled out in the service level agreement.

SSD follows proven processes and IT best practices to deliver managed services to customers. Let us show you how we can improve the way you do business by improving and managing your IT operations.