Friday, August 30, 2013

SOP Friday: Outsourcing (Some) Of Your Monthly Maintenance

I've written a lot about Monthly Maintenance, including articles on . . .

SOP: Why We Do Monthly Maintenance

SOP: Monthly Maintenance Scheduling and On Site Visits

SOP: The Monthly Maintenance Checklist

SOP: Monthly Single Checklist

All of that is about how YOU manage monthly maintenance. In other words, it lists all the various chores and checks you need to do each month.

But there are three tiers of checklist activities: Automatic, manual and remote, and manual on site.

1) Monitored automatically. These items can be removed from monthly maintenance once it is clear that we'll never miss a critical alert.

In a modern managed service business, you will be using some kind of remote monitoring and management tool (RMM). So many items on the checklist are checked every minute of every day instead of once a month. This includes "stop sign" error messages, whether critical services are running, free disc space, and all the other things that can be monitored automatically.

2) Can be completed remotely. These items can be completed by you or by your outsourced helpdesk (such as Continuum, Dove Help Desk, or Level Platforms). It makes sense to outsource these tasks because remote is remote, as long as the monitoring is done correctly. So why would we do it ourselves?
- Check defragmentation level and, if over 1.25, schedule a forced defrag
- Check for yellow "Warning Signs" in the system logs. These often do not trigger an alert, but if you have 100/day then you probably have a problem.
- Perform internet speed tests

3) Need to go onsite. These items require a technician onsite. So we go.
- UPS tests
- Verify backup, label media (disc or tape) for offsite storage, and give them to the appropriate person
- Update the Network Documentation Binder Tech Notes with relevant information

The Bottom Line:

We have basically turned over 99% of our monthly maintenance to our RMM provider (Continuum in our case). Their agent handles the automated piece and their NOC handles the remote piece. The thing we just haven't been able to hand off completely has been complete maintenance of the backup systems. Some things have to be done in person and clients are amazingly unwilling to take this seriously.

So backups fall into the category of "We are taking care you because you refuse to take care of yourself." Counting the number tapes on the shelf cannot be handled by a remote technician. Maybe we'll install web cams for this. :-)

Consider this: If YOU can do it remotely, or a really good technician could do it remotely, then turn it over to your outsourced helpdesk. Let them do it remotely. And the better you are at managing them, the better they respond.

Comments welcome.

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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

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Next week's topic: Setting Up an MSP Office

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