The System Just Works and SOP Friday: Service Manager Roles and Responsibilities.
The Monthly Single guarantees that we have a certain high level of maintenance across all clients. For example, We verify that all firewalls have the correct ports - and only the correct ports - open across all clients.
Here's the problem and the solution:
The problem this addresses is the general confusion when a company grows. When no one complains, we tend not to give them our time and attention. In the world of break/fix, it's okay to forget about a firewall configuration, time services that will screw up Kerberos authentication, testing backups, passwords for critical accounts, service packs, after-hours emergency call down lists, etc.
But in the world of managed services, you are committing to a higher level of service. So that means you need to be able to assume that ALL of your clients have ALL of their systems tuned up. Everything is under a high level of maintenance. You need to focus on Preventive Maintenance. And, to be honest, you have taken on a higher level of responsibility with managed services.
The great fear is this: We have a standard for how servers should be set up. But we manage lots of servers. If we set them up from scratch, we're good to go. But we inherit a lot of servers, firewalls, printer, etc. And even when we adopt a standard policy across all clients, we have to go verify that it's implemented across all the existing clients.
The Monthly Single Process
Each month, you choose one specific task that will be executed at each client. One of the items in the Monthly Maintenance Checklist is to "Complete the Monthly Single."
You should track this via a separate service ticket in your PSA for each client. When that's closed, the Monthly Single is completed.
It is a good idea to create a separate folder for all your Monthly Single procedures so you have them all in one place. This also makes it easy for you to repeat a procedure. For example, if you scan all the client's printed documentation to PDF once a year, you can start with the procedure you used last year.
This folder might contain an Excel Spreadsheet that lists which procedure was used per month. We find it is very handy to name the files with the date information and the task to be completed. For example:
- Monthly Single - 201210 - Time Services.docx
- Monthly Single - 201211 - Service Packs.docx
- Monthly Single - 201212 - Change Master Password.docx
- Monthly Single - 201301 - EOY Documentation.docx
In this way, you can see at a glance what was done and when.
Here are some ideas for Monthly Single tasks you might implement:
- Verify that each client's router, firewall, and domain registration information is in the PSA
- Verify that [your preferred spyware tool] is installed on every desktop
- Make sure Veritas Backup Exec is using family naming for tapes, with Job, Date, and Time in the family name
- Verify that time services are enabled on all servers and configured correctly throughout the organization
- Train primary client contacts to use the Client Service Portal
- Verify internal and external DNS settings
- Photocopy all client's physical documentation to PDF
- Verify that a recent critical fix has been applied to all servers/workstations as needed
- Verify and record server build dates
- Verify Router setup and firewall setup in PSA
- Verify that only correct devices are plugged into UPSs
- Update client call-down lists for emergencies
- Review hidden updates in Microsoft update and apply as needed
- Evaluate backup scheme and implement changes if needed
- Perform complete UPS stress test to determine actual uptime
- Photograph server room and equipment racks - put in PSA
- Verify network map in Network Documentation Binder. Fix as needed.
- Verify that our preferred group policies have been implemented
It is always a good idea to keep an eye out for future Monthly Singles. For example, if a specific software change is released, the Monthly Single is a good way to roll it out in an orderly fashion and verify that it was completed for every client.
If you have ideas for other Monthly Singles, feel free to leave them in the comments section.
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About this Series
SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.
Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.
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Next week's topic: How to Use Velcro
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