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December 9th, 2009

With the launch of our new website comes the introduction of a simplified way to present our core services. We call it the Set You Free IT model:

syfitmodelv3

The model shows the four fundamental outcomes we deliver to businesses, how these build upon each other and what our core services are that help achieve these outcomes.

If I was to describe it in a sentence:

“Evolve IT helps optimise and manage core technology systems, which leads to staff working faster and smarter, helping to improve the customer experience which ultimately allows your business to further enhance and evolve.”

We’re passionate about seeing small and mid-sized businesses adopt fantastic technology solutions to drive success. And we think our new Set You Free IT model gives a clearer picture of the path Evolve IT can take you on to achieve it. What do you think?

Follow me on Twitter @claytonhm

Topic Articles
November 28th, 2009
Boy (11-13) wearing joke glasses, eyebrows raised, smiling

This post, originally titled “Don’t Rely on Your IT Guy”, was first posted in May 2009 on another blog I contribute to, Small Business Daily.  In the past 6 months I’ve received great feedback – primarily from other companies just like Evolve IT trying to highlight the value they offer to small business customers.  I also receive a number of requests each month for a link to the article, so I thought I’d repost it to perhaps make it easier for people to find, and hopefully to have a whole new bunch of people read and find value in the post.

Follow me on Twitter: @claytonhm

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My heading might appear to be a strange statement to make considering I run an IT company.  But I stand by it.  Let me explain:  Many small businesses I come across are initially hesitant to meet with me or my staff.  “But we already have an IT guy”, they declare.  And indeed they do;  It’s the owner’s son-in-law, or the guy from the computer shop across the road, or an employee’s brother who is studying IT at university, or the guy they called once from the yellow-pages.

In any case, they’re making the assumption that my company wants to become their “IT guy” when in fact that’s not our intention at all.  We aren’t the “IT guy”.  The IT guy is the guy they call when a computer breaks, or when email isn’t working, or when they want to know how to stop those damn pop-ups.   But I’m here to tell you that the IT Guy is a dying breed.

As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous and it penetrates deeper within core and critical systems and processes throughout small businesses, you don’t want to be relying on your IT guy.  He’s usually a whiz on computers, but he’s not necessarily full bottle when it comes to business consulting.

You see, the line between technology consulting and management consulting is becoming increasingly blurred.  Technology underpins and provides the tools for so many critical business functions that companies like mine employ business experts to provide true ongoing business solutions and services that fundamentally improve our customer’s businesses.   And small businesses really must engage in a long term partnership with a technology company that understands their business , first and foremost, if they truly want to maintain a competitive edge and be innovative.

If you don’t have a partnership with a technology company that understands business you’re likely to be left behind in the wake of your competitors.   IT companies are changing their business models to a more consultative partnering approach, and most are dropping the old fashioned adhoc break/fix type support altogether.  So if you rely on your IT guy there will inevitably be one day soon he’s not available to assist you when you need urgent support, and you might just find yourself up a familiar creek with-out a paddle because you don’t have a strong partnership with an IT company.  I believe the number of IT companies willing to answer your call to provide adhoc support will reduce as their business models shift to managed services with long term clients who look to them for business improvement, not just IT support.

So if you only have an IT Guy, do yourself a favour and make a committment to have a meeting with an IT company (Microsoft Certified Partners are generally a safe bet) and be sure to talk to them with an open mind about how they can help you be a better business.

You want your PC fixed ‘cause it’s broken? – call the It guy.  You want to make an ongoing and long term improvement to the way you do business?  – call your technology partner.

Topic Articles
October 19th, 2009

There are many different forms of computer support available these days, and this is no longer a linear equation of pre-paid hours and time based SLA’s. Whether you are a business owner looking for a new network support provider, or a provider looking to breathe new life into the way you service your customers, then you should read this article.

In the world of network support there is so much hidden stuff out there that the customer never sees that it’s important that we, as support providers, are alerting them to the fact that this service exists.

So what support do you need and what do you actually get?

1. Proactive Services

These are all the things related to the maintenance of the network. Proactive Services includes installing patches and upgrades, ensuring all monitoring is picking up faults and small issues that the client may not necessarily see and ensuring that backups is working and antivirus updates are being installed.

At Evolve IT we look at the amount of support calls required each month for a particular client and we analyse these numbers. If a client has an increasing number of calls due to failure every month, we look at this as a failure on our part. If this number diminished then this is good, as this means the client is experiencing more up-time.

“I am talking about genuine benefits based planning so that your clients can achieve actual goals…”


If the client is not calling this means that our proactive services are working perfectly by maintaining and maximising the up-time of the network.

As a potential managed support services client ask the vendors you are selecting what they do in the background and how they report this to you.

2. Account Management

Account Management is important for the client to get a handle on what it is that they are paying for. As stated in the last point, if we are truly doing our job perfectly then the client should never call.

But what happens when it comes time for renewal of the service? A client that is never spoken to will turn around and say “Well, we never call you, so we are not continuing the service”.

And there is no point in pulling out these figures only when you are bringing up the renewal of a service contract either – that is just bad service.

Monthly Account Management meetings are important so that your client knows what is being done in the background to ensure that they are experiencing the maximum up-time that they can from their network.

3. Network Planning

What are you doing to improve your clients network infrastructure?

I am NOT talking about selling here. I am talking about genuine benefits based planning so that your clients can achieve actual goals such as increase collaboration ability, hands free backup, or faster VPN connections.

These plans need to be done regularly and the client needs to know what is proposed to enhance the goal.

For example – if my client came to me and said “we need to have a space where we can all work on a document together and have a person in charge of it like a project” then obviously the suggestion is SharePoint, however this means nothing to the client.

But what if I said “there is a solution by Microsoft which enables the company to have their own virtual workspace called an Intranet. Everyone has their own site and teams can have sites too, like an internal website. Instead of having products on these pages though, each one is a workspace which enables more than one person to work on a document at the same time and a moderator who can approve changes and control document versions as well”?

This is less techie, enables the client to actually understand what I am talking about and I am not selling them a product – I am providing a solution to a problem.

4. Business Planning and Advice

Noe this is something that you can offer your clients if you have savvy people as Account Managers or business owners that meet with the clients regularly.

At Evolve IT we have business planning meetings with our clients to ensure that we are working with them towards their business goals. If there are ways that technology can help the client move forward then we can suggest and scope and the client can budget this into the business plan.

“Now the receptionist can also have a business building capacity part time and the business isgoing to see immediate advantages and long term cost saving and improved revenue as aresult of one little change”

For example I have been working with a client recently who has been using an old custom built Access database to capture their customer information over the last few years.

This client wants to become more efficient and have their staff increasing productivity without increasing wages or hours worked. Looking at the processes involved in capturing information it became obvious to me was that they need to breath new life into the way that they capture the customer data and use it within the business.

So now we are moving to an improved Customer Information System which is going to automate processes and leave more time for the staff to do their jobs. Now the receptionist can also have a business building capacity part time and the business is going to see immediate advantages and long term cost saving and improved revenue as a result of one little change in the technology behind the way that they work, not changing the way they work itself.

This is what I see as the difference between good service and fantastic service in the field of IT support. Layers of support, not merely restricted to computers and switches, but an investment in the business of the people we are supporting. If we help all of our customers grow, then they will always be our customers.

If you want some more information on this, just flick me an email

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Topic Articles
October 18th, 2009

I come across the results of bad or misguided advice a lot in my position at Evolve IT. Many times this amounts to people spending a heap of money on things they don’t need in order for someone else to validate their worth to a client, or to turn a potential client into a fiscal business transaction.

It kind of gets to me that these companies are obviously so interested in looking after the “now” that the later just doesn’t come into the equation.

Let me explain this by using an example:

A customer that I work with needed a customer information system a couple of years ago and they asked their IT guys what they should do. He obviously had some knowledge in this area and developed a system for them based on an Access database so that they can track this information.

over the last few years this project has had many iterations and every time something needs to be done for them, it costs them a couple of thousand dollars. The “solution” to their problem ties the developer / IT guru to the company for as long as the system exists and gives the company very little room to naturally evolve their systems as their processes evolve.

Now, an alternative solution here would have been a simple CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system whereby the IT guru could have outsourced to someone that really knows these things and provided them with a long term solutions from a variety of possible vendors, not just fixing the immediate with the limited knowledge that he had on this field.

There are a variety of solutions available in this genre of business application varying from free and open source (Free CRM) to paid (SalesForce.com) to premium (Microsoft and Siebel). Instead of reinventing the wheel here, the solution could have been based on something that had a roadmap for the future and, therefore, room to grow with the company. The solution that the customer ended up with simply paid the IT guru to develop it and maintain it for all these years, without giving back the benefits that an equivalent financial investment in a best-of-breed system would have given over the years.

So from this example, I want to explore the concept of advice in IT:

Are you getting the right advice?

obviously when you are looking at implementing something, or your IT guru has highlighted an area for improvement, then you are going to go to the people that know your network best – your IT guru(‘s).

I am not implying shopping this work around, as when you trust your guru they are also going to do the best by you.

There are a couple of ways of ascertaining as to whether you are getting the right advice from your IT professional:

1. Have you been presented with a number of alternatives?
2. Has the solution worked for other companies like yours?
3. Has the solution got both short term and long term goals?
4. Has the provider got a solid list of reference sites in the same area of expertise?

If you can answer yes to all of these filtering questions, then your IT guy is doing the best by you.

If not, then you should seek some impartial advice and contact me so that we can catch up for a chat.

Topic Articles
July 27th, 2009

For many small and medium-sized businesses, the cost of maintaining an old PC may be more expensive than upgrading to a new one. This insight comes from a survey conducted by research firm Techaisle, which polled 630 companies across seven countries.

Their research suggests that the average cost for SMBs to repair PCs over three years old can be 1.65 times as expensive as repairing PCs under three years old. Repairs include replacements, usually from hardware failure, and the cost to fix software crashes. Small business respondents with PCs older than three years experienced network card failures nearly eight times more than respondents with PCs less than three years old. This was followed by power supply failures, motherboard failures, software crashes, and virus attacks. Midmarket respondents experienced a similar trend, with network card failures at six times higher, followed by power supply failures and motherboard failures.

In addition, respondents said desktops that have been in use for more than three years are more susceptible to attacks from malware and viruses (28 percent), while older notebooks are 58 percent more likely to endure a virus attack. The cost of related lost worker productivity should also be factored in by companies wishing to hold on to outdated hardware.

Are you hanging on to old PCs in an attempt to money? Contact us today. We can help you assess the health and condition of your PCs, as well as determine the cost of maintaining existing PCs versus upgrading or replacing them.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic News
July 23rd, 2009

article_networkIn today’s challenging economic times, many small businesses like yours are reluctant to spend money. However, a modest investment in network maintenance can ultimately improve your profitability and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your network infrastructure.

Your business depends on your network

Your revenue is directly tied to the availability and performance of your network, because it’s the backbone of your business. Your network houses critical applications, allows your employees to communicate, and gives customers access your goods and services.

When your network fails, your business suffers. Employees cannot access the applications and information they need to keep your business up and running, and basic means of communication, such as printing, filing, and emailing, are unavailable. At the same time, customers cannot access the information they need to buy your products. You’re forced to spend time and money to get the system up and running, increasing your TCO. The end result: productivity declines and revenue decreases.

Managing your network can prevent revenue loss

It pays to minimize network performance degradation and downtime, and a network management system will help you do this. Large companies have long deployed such systems, but as networks become more critical to smaller businesses, they have become important for small- and mid-size enterprises as well.

A network management system will provide tools that improve network performance, help network administrators manage the network more efficiently, and include an early warning system for network outages. These benefits allow your business to operate more efficiently, thereby cutting costs and preventing revenue loss—and reducing the TCO of your network infrastructure.

Need Help?

Finding a good network management system and deploying it correctly is by no means a simple task, but there are plenty of solutions that provide the necessary functionality at a relatively low cost. We can help you deploy an easy-to-use network management system that helps you manage your network more efficiently and save money at the same time. Contact us today for more information.

Related articles:

Assessing the business impact of network management on small and mid-size enterprises

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 15th, 2009

My heading might appear to be a strange statement to make considering I run an IT company. But I stand by it. Let me explain: Many small businesses I come across are initially hesitant to meet with me or my staff. “But we already have an IT guy”, they declare. And indeed they do; It’s the owner’s son-in-law, or the guy from the computer shop across the road, or an employee’s brother who is studying IT at university, or the guy they called once from the yellow-pages.

Click here to read the rest of this blog post on Small Business Daily.

Topic Articles
March 9th, 2009

We all want to minimize costs – both planned and unexpected – but not at the expense of keeping systems and essential equipment running smoothly. Small businesses without an IT department often wait until something breaks to call in an expert for help, or simply rely on the most techy person in the office to take care of the computers in addition to his regular duties.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic News
February 11th, 2009

Many small and medium businesses that I come across that have employed their own internal IT staff are never happy. Neither are the IT staff employed there.

I’m generally talking about businesses with upwards of 30 users who thought it wise to employ one or two internal IT staff – often because they saw no value, yet lots of bills, from their previous external IT support partner.

The reason I believe this is a lose/lose situation for the business owner and the IT worker is simple: Misunderstanding and a lack of a technology strategy in SMBs.

The Usual SMB IT Staff Scenario

So the small business IT manager is brought on-board and tasked with “making everything run better and making us more efficient” or similar. The IT guy is upbeat in his first week, dreaming of all the projects he can implement to make the place work like clockwork and improve the business.

But the business owner wants the IT guy to sort out “all the slow computers”. He tells all the staff to call the IT guy if they have any issues with their computers. Before long, the IT guy is spending 80% of his time fighting spot fires and performing mundane tasks like removing Fred from sales’ spyware infestation (for the 3rd time that week).

The IT guy is given no budget nor time to actually look at the situation holistically and develop long term plans to reduce problems and improve capabilities in the business through technology. Before long, the IT guy wants to leave and the business owner wonders why he ever employed him!

Dare to be Different

My advice for SMB owners is this: Only hire a permanent IT staff member if you have a clear strategy about the capabilities you are looking for from technology to achieve your business goals. Only ever let you internal IT staff work on projects that contribute to the company’s core business. Outsource any function that is more about supporting your internal resources and processes rather than a function of contributing to your core business.

Believe it or not, but many businesses are better off investing the $60,000 it might cost in salary for the internal IT guy, and then perhaps another $30,000 in outsourcing IT functions to a managed service provider. Why? Because that $30,000 investment actually frees up your $60,000 investment to become a revenue generating asset.

Ha? Basically, you might spend $30k to free up 80% of your IT managers time, allowing him to work on core business functions that ultimately generate revenue. With all that time, perhaps the IT Manager can implement a CRM system that sees repeat business double. Perhaps the IT Manager can develop a mobile sales system for your sales force, allowing them to spend less time in the office, more time on site and make 10% more sales pre month as a result. Perhaps the IT Manager streamlines you internal ordering process system, allowing you to expand your business without adding additional administrative employees. The point is, more often than not as far as I have seen, the business will generate a huge ROI on their cost of outsourcing, and generate it fast!

The end result is this: You as the business owner are happy because you can see quantifiable changes implemented as a result of hiring your IT guy. Your IT Manager is happy because he’s working on interesting projects that develop real results for his employer – and hopefully he’s being rewarded for it!

During the current economic climate, companies making the most of their existing resources to drive their core business goals and outsourcing non-core business functions will be the ones to prosper and thrive.

Topic Articles