My roots are in the construction industry. My maternal grandfather and my father were both home builders of considerable accomplishment. In particular, my grandfather had as many as 15 carpenters working on the payroll. And most of these carpenters did the plumbing, electrical, and painting, too. This was ‘old school’.

But the trend 20-30 years later was for the more successful home builder to hire independent subcontractors, especially for such unique skills as drywall or roofing. Then there were framers, finish and trim subcontractors, landscapers, painters, plumbers, electricians, etc. But the sign on the lawn in front of the new home still displayed the name of the builder with the various subcontractors remaining anonymous. While the subcontractor chose this path of anonymity, they gave up the overall responsibility along with notoriety. That said, they were responsible to their trade and were required to produce consistent workmanship, else they were not hired again.

In real estate 50 years ago, agents worked for a small office and worked alone. Now real estate agencies are mostly franchised, and most agents work as part of team, some split into buyer representatives and perhaps another faction of the team working for the seller. But the agent in charge of it all is the one that gets the notoriety, the monetary rewards, and the upset clients.

In the IT industry, the technician formerly wore every hat just like the early builder and their tradesmen. But now we have printer/copier people, cable specialists, developers, security analysts, web designers, server and network techs, social media experts, website hosts, PowerShell scripters, cloud architects…

But another trend in IT is to subcontract helpdesk and network operations center (NOC) to an independent firm, the Master Managed IT Services Provider (MMSP). While some have disparaged this method, I would argue that this should be the support infrastructure that clients seek when sizing up their next prospective Managed IT Services Provider (MSP). Here’s why:

1.    The client wants the option to pick up the phone and call the IT person in charge.

They might not want to speak to the tech person on night duty, but there is a different phone number for that. Instead, they want to have that one-to-one conversation with someone that they know and trust, someone with whom they’ve established a rapport that is ultimately responsible for the technical duties.

But ultimately, the client has only one ‘throat-to-choke’. And when that client wants to have a conversation with the person who took on the responsibility of maintaining their tech, they do not want a busy signal, be sent to voicemail, or end up with an unintelligible foreign accent on the end of the line.

2.    The Master Managed Services Provider performs under contract.

So does the client, and so does the MSP. Employees can also perform under a contract, but I’ve experienced situations where these types of contracts are practically unenforceable. But the MMSP is bound to the duty of the agreement between them and the MSP. The MSP can dictate the manner in which the independent contractor MMSP performs, which by law and by reputation maintains a steady balance between client expectations and MSP responsibilities.

It’s been debated that the MMSP is the ‘fox in the henhouse’ when considering the mergers and acquisitions happening all over the IT industry. I would argue that the tech(s) are also foxes in the henhouse. With the proper agreement and honor among its participants, a contractual arrangement can keep everyone pleased. Another builder metaphor: When my father was asked for a contract late in his home building career (he never used contracts), he responded to his client by extending his hand and said, “Here is your contract.” It was likely considered a binding contract because there was a meeting of the minds.

But the dynamics between the providers (MSP and MMSP) determine the quality of their relationship, which spills over to the client. To use the builder metaphor again, if (s)he hires a skilled and reputable painter, then the home will be spotless when the home buyer arrives. If the MSP hires the right Master MSP within a proper framework, then the client will be pleased and contribute to a healthy business arrangement.

3.    The MSP with an MMSP solution provides a consistent quality of service.

Some might argue that rapport is lost when helpdesk and NOC are outsourced. On the contrary, a pool of unique technicians from a Master MSP can be assigned to a specific client so that there is a familiar, reliable, and consistent customer experience. More than that, availability and scalability become factors when a client expands or contracts – the MSP can adapt to client size by enlisting more or fewer resources.

For the small business owner considering a new IT firm, they should best consider that the IT firm might be too large or too small. Too large an IT firm means a disconnect between client and provider. Too small a firm could mean a chaotic outcome and service degradation as the IT firm’s clients might grow unexpectedly. But for the IT firm that has a dynamically sized and multiple-skilled human resource pool at their disposal, then growth is scalable while the consistent quality of service is maintained.

4.    SMBs want to do business with SMBs.

If given the choice between Behemoth IT Corporation, Dynamic IT, or Puny & Struggling IT LLC, which would you want as your technology partner? Behemoth IT is represented in today’s IT industry by such giants as All Covered and their parent company, Konica. If you contract with them, will you get the attention to detail that you require? Puny & Struggling IT LLC are trying to grow their staff to meet demand by an initially good reputation, but then one tech jumped ship for a better paying job, another got in a fight with his girlfriend, and yet another tech forgot to back up a client, just before that client was hit with ransomware. An IT firm with a dynamically sized staff can scale to your needs, while still maintaining rapport. The outsourcing of helpdesk and NOC services means that the leader of the IT firm inherently has more time to spend on quality control and sealing that ‘glue’ that holds them invaluable to one another.

5.   A dynamic IT firm can put ‘boots on the ground’ – anywhere at any time.

Any established IT firm will tell you that about 95% of their remediation is performed on a remote basis. The helpdesk and NOC services account for that percentage, but what about the rest? From Wikipedia: “WorkMarket is a New York City-based company that provides an online platform and marketplace for businesses to manage freelancers, contractors, and consultants.” This means that WorkMarket vets the worker in terms of legality, criminality, and certifications. It’s a full-time job, but that’s what they do – find and scrutinize good technicians to qualify them as qualified representatives that would enter your workplace.

In conclusion:

Everything has changed. Again. What worked during former times is not necessarily what works today.

Resolute IT has been 100% cloud-based since 2009. During the prior ten years, we were a small and conventional IT firm on Cape Cod with big servers and big gas bills as we traversed the dunes in a frenzied fashion, putting out technical fires here and there. Today we’re a calm and proactive firm that can provide its services anywhere in the US in a smart, efficient, predictable, and cloud-centric manner.

The nature and beauty of Microsoft Office 365 is that it is cloud-based. There are no geographic boundaries – you can be anywhere with internet access and be virtually down the hall from your office.

And like the cloud-based service itself, support for Office 365 (or other plans such as Microsoft 365 Business) can happen from anywhere. As long as we have internet access, we can communicate with you and remediate your devices and services without having to spin our wheels – this is quite a ‘green’ business model.

Remote tools are plentiful these days, many of them available for free. As a rule, we try to maintain three different remote methods as three layers of backup for remote remediation. If one isn’t working, then another will. These little remote programs run in the background – or not – sometimes people prefer to start an ad hoc session.

And it isn’t only about remote control. Over the next few years, you’ll see that our primary support method will take its form in Microsoft Teams. Not only can we chat by text through Teams, but we can initiate an impromptu meeting with audio (and video as an option). And during such a meeting, you can share your desktop (circled icon above) on one monitor, two monitors, or you can share an application that you are running on your computer, such as Outlook or your line-of-business application.

With Microsoft Teams, there will be no reason to use a conventional telephone, cellphone, or even email, although both phone and email systems will be around for a long time – Skype for Business, the enterprise telephone system for Unified Communications, is now deprecated as a service and Microsoft Teams will become the default client for its new Intelligent Communications. Look for a not-too-distant announcement from us about Phone System and Calling Plan becoming our new voice solution as an integral piece of our Microsoft 365 tenant.

Due to our affiliation with Ingram Micro, a $6 Billion, global, Fortune 500 company based in California, we have over 700 engineers available to you when we can’t pick up the phone. During standard business hours and early evenings, Resolute IT will most likely answer your call, text, email or other method as frontline support for Office 365 helpdesk, but this 24/7 helpdesk acts as your second line of support.

 

In addition to on-demand response after your purchase, this same affiliation provides us with access to a Microsoft pre-sales engineer – that is, direct connections to employees of Microsoft that are embedded within the Ingram Micro organization. In effect, this gives us direct access to the creator of the office productivity software and services that you purchase, which enhances the overall support experience that we already provide. Informed decisions are critical to any company’s success. 

When seeking Office 365 customer support, you want to find articulate, coherent and effective answers to your problems. Microsoft offers free telephone support; however, US-based English is usually not the first language of the technician. They might (or might not) be technically qualified to resolve your Outlook or OneDrive complaints, but the time and the patience required to resolve your helpdesk ticket sometimes feels like you’re beating your head against a wall. I know; I’ve been there myself.

And ironically, I nearly became one of those technicians. I was hired, went through a 2-month long onboarding process, and started training as a home-based Office 365 Concierge Ambassador, but the only internet access provided at my residence did not meet their security and reliability requirements as part of the employment contract. I’m back in business for myself and, quite frankly, happier to be here again.

Many have complimented me on my communication skills. They know that they’ll be able to hear me speak clearly and without so much technical jargon. They know how tenacious I am when a problem arises, knowing that I’ll see them through to a satisfactory result without frustration.

To put me on ‘retainer’, I have an annual helpdesk service for $250 per person. For companies with 5 or more end-users, then we’ll have to consider a managed services option that includes proactive efforts and cloud-to-cloud backup services in addition to the immediate helpdesk.

To open a ticket, I leave several doors open to convey your message: 

Last November, I answered a help-wanted email from a contractor that Microsoft hires to provide customer service for their Office 365 cloud services and software. The recruiter responded to my email and resumé with greater excitement than my own! We proceeded through a two-month-long hiring and subsequent onboarding process.
 
Right from the start, I was told that a wired internet connection was required, as well as a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps. I thought to myself, “That’s okay. I can use the Ethernet port on my mobile broadband router to run a cable directly into the Ethernet port on the computer that they would provide.” I went a step further and purchased a wireless router so that I could have a hard-wired solution for them, as well as wireless for my own personal devices.
 
And I took it yet another step further by ordering a new mobile broadband modem, one that promised greater speeds by the ability to lock onto specific cell towers. It arrived in a timely fashion and I proceeded to get it all set up. It worked, but then it didn’t – I could get slightly faster speeds, but it was an inconsistent connection.
 
During the first day of training, we were introduced to the employee manual, which stated explicitly, “mobile broadband is not acceptable”. Ugh. At first, I thought that maybe I shouldn’t mention anything. But overnight my wireless broadband internet service took a nose dive – I could barely get .10 Mbps let alone the required 10 Mbps. There was no way that I could bluff my way through such a condition. I sat down and wrote them a letter of resignation.
 
Because I was honest and upfront with them, they’ve designated my status as “Welcome to Return”, so all is not necessarily lost. But in the meantime, here I was stuck with having spent hundreds of dollars on equipment and I was still ‘dead in the water’ with almost no internet. I fiddled with settings, repositioned the device, rebooted, updated the firmware, fiddled, moved things around, added an antenna, removed the antenna…. Several days later, I now have stable, high-speed internet service! I’ve been getting 30-50 Mbps for the past 4 days straight. What a pleasure!
 
Of course, it was too late. The contractor had become aware of my unacceptable network configuration that violated our employment contract. My only direction forward was to resume my own businesses, dba Resolute IT for local work and Office 365 Tech Guy nationally. And I’m very glad to be back with renewed enthusiasm. But I was truly honored to be given the opportunity to work (indirectly) for the company that created the focus of my business – Microsoft Office 365.

If we haven’t spoken yet, then please either contact us by the form below, email , text , or schedule for a free 15-30 minute meeting to establish ideal goals and to initiate a preliminary plan.

Professional Services | Fix IT Now

Hourly Remediation and Professional Consulting Services:

          • Per request and approved proposal.
          • Same rate for remote and onsite.
            • Minimum 1 hour for remote control.
            • Minimum 4 hours for on-site visit.

Migrate 365 | Move to the Cloud

One Seat – covers all of the following:

          • Documents & Email transfer from on-premises server or other system
          • Automatically discover email environment and configure a migration plan that’s right for you.
          • Identify the impact of migrating your file server to SharePoint Online with Office 365.
          • Perform identity mapping by scanning SharePoint, Active Directory, and Azure Active Directory.
          • Monitor progress and output files into the Logs directory showing the summary and more detailed insights into the scenarios that could be impacted by migration.
          • Data automatically synced before, during and after migration cutover.
          • Full fidelity sync technology ensures no data loss on final data sync post-cutover.
          • Account provisioning and DNS updates take place during Migration Sync.
          • Desktop readiness and remediation:
            • Outlook configured to work with Office 365.
            • Local data moved as required.
            • User’s previous Outlook experience recreated as closely as possible post-migration.
          • Seat defined:
            • For billing purposes, any migrating top-level Public Folder or Mailbox (Individual, Shared, or Resource Room/Equipment) is considered a seat.

HelpDesk 365 | Remote IT Services

Your technical support on retainer for reactive IT services.

          • Limited to to five (5) incidents or service tickets per month per end-user
            • non-transferable to other end-users.
          • Service tickets initiated by email to [email protected] or via online scheduling calendar .
          • Remote desktop agent installed for quick support sessions.
          • Response time can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours.
          • Business hours only.
          • Limited monitoring and reporting of critical events.
          • Automated updates and patches
            • No verification.
          • No hardware support.
          • No onsite support, except by pre-paid request apart from this agreement.

Optimum 365 | Fully-Managed IT Services

All-inclusive and proactive IT services (per user per month):

          • 24/7 remote included.
          • Vendor liaison and purchasing agent roles.
          • Network documentation.
          • Network health monitoring & reporting.
          • Customer support ticketing portal and knowledge base.
          • Security hardening with best practices.
          • Microsoft 365 Business subscription included!
          • Complete Cloud Backup included.
          • One license for one user and *all* of their devices to enjoy on-demand support throughout the year.
          • Unlimited support incidents (tickets) per month.
          • Covers Windows 10 Pro, MacOS, iOS, Android, all Office 365 plans (software and services), and cloud-to-cloud backup offered by RIT.
          • Support of Line of Business (LOB) applications included.
            • Must have current maintenance or service plan
            • Must have proper & complete licensing for every user
          • Infrastructure ramp-up project required prior to start of agreement.
            • Computers and servers fully updated and running optimally.
            • Printers under service plan.
            • Mobile devices (phones and tablets) updated to recent model and current operating system.
          • Ongoing training & coaching.
          • Servers and network-attached devices not included.

Backup 365 | Cloud-to-Cloud Every 4 Hours

One User License:

          • 1 year of cloud-to-cloud, unlimited backup with lightning-fast search and one-click restore of Office 365 data:
            • SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, Office 365 Groups, and Microsoft Teams.
            • Microsoft Teams conversations, calendar, files, and notebook.
          • Six daily snapshots.
          • Self-service restore.

 

Hand Shake AgreementWhen an IT services company charges hourly for their work, they have no incentive to accomplish tasks in a timely or even competent manner. Nor are they compelled to innovate or formulate preventive measures. If it breaks, then cha-ching!

On the other hand, if an IT services company is paid to keep everything working, then it behooves them to remain proactive. If they don’t, then they’re not doing their prescribed job, which means dismissal and termination of the agreement = no $$$$. “You’re fired.”

These are the basic tenets of the managed IT services model. When a proactive and preventive agreement is in place, then it is in the mutual benefit of both parties that the Internet is up, the computers are running, data is safely in place, the workers are productive, and the company is compliant with regulatory mandates.

When all is up and running in a stable manner, then costs also become stable. The agreement between the IT services company and their client determines the expected monthly compensation amount. And the agreement defines the set of services provided on behalf of the client. It is understood by both parties that the same payment amount will transpire on a consistent basis, which means no surprises; the IT services company can rely upon payment and the client company can expect to pay the monthly remittance as an ongoing cost of doing business – for stable conditions.

And it’s not just about the network and the machines. The people using the network need ongoing support. They need to resolve problems that arise preventing them from accomplishing the tasks at hand. And they need improved skills to attain their long-term goals, so training is an integral component of the managed IT services support environment. One-on-one coaching is invaluable and providing a responsive helpdesk system is crucial to the holistic health of the system.

The managed services contract is nothing more than a simple agreement. Both parties pledge to perform for their mutual benefit.

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

We’re very careful about choosing our affiliations. Only the highest quality vendors become part of our offerings.

A case in point would be AppRiver, our Microsoft licensing provider for Office 365 and associated services. AppRiver not only provides the software licensing, but they support the product with their award-winning ‘Phenomenal Care’ helpdesk solution, as well.

When you call into AppRiver, they answer within 3 rings and present themselves in a friendly, polite and clear manner. 

This is your second line of support – your first call would be to our primary helpdesk line, but we can scale according to demand by leveraging AppRiver as an option.

Microsoft
Intel
Apple
Cisco Meraki
Dell EMC
HP Enterprise
Lenovo
Android
Plantronics
Polycom
Logitech
BitTitan
SkyKick
Sennheiser
D&H Distributing
AppRiver

 

In every company, there is a primary decision maker. The leader guides the company with innovation, common sense and wisdom. The leader inspires others with persistent enthusiasm. The leader makes fair decisions and exemplifies honor.

 

Most companies have employees. In some companies there are none. But a company’s value consists of more than the sum of their hired hands. By recognizing and then leveraging the valuable skills of partnering firms, we can harmonize our concerted efforts to entirely satisfy the business needs expressed by our clients.

 

With singular responsibility, our leadership provides integrated products and services with complete responsibility – there is no evasion or dodging of liability. We are small enough to acknowledge problems and we honestly own them.

 

Our mode is always on. We keep multiple avenues of communication open for commerce. Do we always answer the phone? Of course not. But calls are never ignored and every response is promptly returned. Small things matter and timeliness is a graceful courtesy.

 

Too many technicians in the IT world have ‘better than thou’ attitudes. It’s too evident to deny this. But to know humility is to succeed. We have the utmost respect for others, we are openly grateful to serve, and we grasp every opportunity to learn about you and your business.

 

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway

 

It is with calm purpose and determination that we remain resolute. But it is with humility that we remain lesser mortals. And it is with steadfast tenacity that we accomplish the tiniest tasks, as well as it is how we conquer seemingly monumental projects.

 

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

“On August 17, 1908, the new Bank of Italy (now Bank of America) Headquarters at 552 Montgomery Street (San Francisco) was opened to the public. Here, on the first floor in an open area, A.P. Giannini had his office where all comers were invited to stop and chat about not only financial but family matters as well.” – US Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.

In this same spirit, I kept my desk near the door when I had an office on Cape Cod. I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to have a steady stream of people dropping in to sit down and chat with me.

And now that I work solely as a remote consultant, I am opening a client-facing portal on an always-open basis in Microsoft Teams.

As Microsoft announced the free offering of Microsoft Teams yesterday, I feel that people are now unencumbered for the lack of this tool – Teams is free to download for desktop and mobile, and very simple to create an account in a matter of seconds.

To become a member of the Resolute IT Client Portal, sign up here.