IT Lessons Learned from 2020: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Strategies

IT Lessons Learned from 2020: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Strategies

Without a doubt, the year 2020 was a challenge for everyone. The IT industry had its own set of obstacles, with the dramatic shift from in-office staff to remote workers – almost overnight. Now that 2021 is underway, it’s time to learn from these challenges to be better prepared in the event of the unexpected.

Over the next few months, we’ll be doing a deep dive through a 5-part blog series on the top five IT lessons 2020 taught us. As a local IT provider in Menomonee Falls, we hope to educate the greater Milwaukee community so everyone can be better prepared in the event of a future shutdown.

The first lesson in our series involves strategies for developing a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. And while these two methods may seem similar, there are some key differences you need to understand.

What is the difference between business continuity and a disaster recovery plan?

The main difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan is when the plan will take effect. In a business continuity scenario, emphasis is on how to continuously operate through the challenge, while a disaster recovery plan focuses on how to recover after the disaster has taken place.

It is important for businesses to have both plans in place. In order to be effective, every disaster recovery plan must focus on the protection and migration of data. In the event of a disaster, the business must be able to migrate its critical data and operate from the cloud in order to maintain critical operations and avoid downtime.

trendsMany businesses learned the importance of a disaster recovery plan as the Covid-19 lockdowns took hold in March of 2020. With onsite operations no longer an option, businesses were forced to send staff home. Many businesses struggled to maintain business continuity, but the best prepared organizations in southeastern Wisconsin were those who operated fully in the cloud.

Prior to the pandemic, interest in business continuity had somewhat plateaued, dramatically spiking in March of 2020 and maintaining interest this year.

Could your network use a fresh pair of eyes? Request a Network Discovery. This complementary on-site evaluation is a great way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your IT infrastructure.

The importance of a solid data backup plan

Throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses also discovered the importance of backing up their critical files.

In fact, backing up data became even more critical during the pandemic, not only to maintain operations but to protect against a new wave of cybercriminals and ransomware, many of whom were actively targeting the new remote workforce. Data backup and recovery in healthcare became a prominent topic in 2020 with 500+ reported in the news.

Establishing a disaster recovery plan for your business is a multi-step process, and every step is critical. Use this disaster recovery checklist as a starting point when developing your DR plan.

  • Establish best practices for backup and recovery of your data
  • Develop a crisis plan ahead of time, before disaster strikes
  • Prioritize essential functions for your business
  • Determine the acceptable level and length of downtime
  • Put the proper technology in place to support a fully remote workforce
  • Implement redundancy for your data
  • Map out possible scenarios, including high probability, low impact events and low probability, high impact disaster
  • Evaluate and patch gaps in your disaster recovery and business continuity planning

The Process of Developing a Disaster Recovery Plan

data backup and disaster recovery strategiesDeveloping a plan is a critical first step in preparing for disaster, but even the best plan will do you know good until it has been fully implemented.

Consider integrating these procedures into your data backup and recovery plan.

  • Move your data to the cloud as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Fully embracing the cloud allows for seamless access to your data, no matter where you and your staff are located.
  • A comprehensive cloud backup includes not only essential like email, but also Microsoft Teams messaging, SharePoint and so on. Choosing a reliable cloud provider and building a robust cloud-based data backup process today will serve you well in the future.
  • Make sure all stakeholders are onboard. From the CEO to the IT manager on the front lines, establishing a robust disaster recovery plan is not just an IT issue; it requires the buy-in of all key decision makers.
  • Map out your standard operating procedure for remote workers, including the use of VPNs for secure connections to the office, enterprise-grade routers and firewalls for enhanced security when working from home and robust cloud solutions for easy storage and access to company data.
  • Map out communication channels in the event of a disaster, including who is responsible for communicating with workers and customers. It is important to keep everyone in the loop during the disaster and in its aftermath.
  • Back up ALL your data, and regularly test those backups. Untested backups could be useless in an actual disaster, so make sure they will be available when you need them most.
  • Use a data backup checklist to make sure everyone is on the same page and ensure you have all the resources you need to support your employees, customers and business partners.

Businesses learned some important lessons in 2020, and while not all of them were pleasant, they were each valuable in their own way. With a fresh start in the New Year, why not take the time to learn from those lessons and create, establish or strengthen your data backup and recovery plan?

Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions

Ontech specializes in working with businesses who have 10-250 users. Due to the wide variety of clients we work with, our solutions are flexible and customized to meet your current needs and future growth plans.

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5 Signs Your IT Network is Outdated

5 Signs Your IT Network is Outdated

Although your network may be working just fine, there may be security problems lurking within. From an outdated Windows server that’s fallen out of support to dated spam filtering techniques that allow spoof emails slip between the cracks, there’s no better time than the present to stay ahead of the curve and find out what you might be missing.

Unsure if your network is outdated or not? Check out the traditional vs. modern approach in these five critical IT areas.

1. Endpoint protection

Traditional approach: Traditional antivirus refers to a dictionary to determine if an “actor” is good or bad.

Modern methods: Today’s endpoint protection integrates AI machine learning with antivirus and spam filtering. Machine learning not only automates the ability to determine good processes from bad, but it can also make corrections based on this intelligence. This automated machine learning approach offers excellent protection against zero day threats.

2. Email security

Traditional approach: Older spam filtering techniques refer to an IP address library for known bad actors. Of course, email and backup go hand in hand. The traditional backup approach involved backing up email data onto a local server.

Modern methods: Similar to endpoint security, modern spam filters utilize machine learning with AI that can quickly react to threats if someone is trying to impersonate someone else – i.e. spoofing. DMARC and DKIM is often added as an additional security measure that tells the internet where your email lives, so it is more difficult to spoof. In other words, this setting says “hey internet, our email is at Office 365 and if someone tries to use the email address, don’t allow it.”

Modern backup methods support much more than email these days. Ontech uses a solution called Skykick that offers 24/7 backup of your email, calendar, SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams messaging data to the cloud. This approach is a cloud to cloud backup as opposed to backing up data that was previously residing at your office.

3. Backup

Even if you’ve put all the right IT security measures in place, it really comes down to your backup – so this is one area you definitely want to get right.

Traditional approach: Many businesses used to utilize tape backups – and some even continued to do so after the cloud was introduced because they did not want to move to the cloud. At the same time, recovery time was quite different from what it is today. Businesses used to find 5 days as an acceptable downtime, but today, the recovery objective keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Modern methods: Acceptable downtime depends on the type of the company, but ultimately, communication is more critical these days. The recovery time has shifted from days to just hours. A more reliable disaster recovery plan has become more popular as greater Milwaukee area businesses are more reliant on uptime.

4. Security Threats

Old vs. New: The evolution of cyber security threats.

  • The amount of security threats have drastically increased along with their sophistication over the last 10 years.
  • Phishing and spear phishing has also increased and people are more likely to take action on an impersonated email rather than a fake or standard spam email.
  • Ransomware has quickly adapted and evolved. The average ransom demand has increased 37% year over year.
  • Modern IT strategy utilizes network separation. This approach uses IP based cameras that connect to your IP. We used to commonly see a flat horizontal network, but today, you can have a separate phone or camera network to prioritize traffic. Phones always get high priority to maintain quality while guest access is set to lowest priority. Network separation allows prioritizing so your network can run smoothly.

Another aspect of network separation can help in terms of security. It’s common in some industries like manufacturing for computers to run old operating systems in order to support certain software. The manufacturing industry isn’t held to rigid compliance like healthcare and it can be more expensive to update software than an operating system, so naturally this is a common scenario.

Often, it takes massive amounts of downtime and significant revenue losses before these organizations update their system. This is where network separation comes in handy – the IT administrator creates an isolated area that is separate from other network areas that could be potentially exploited.

5. Managed services

Traditional approach: Many businesses utilized the break/fix model which put them in a place where they were down for days at a time. Managed services were expensive, previously only available to enterprise level businesses. In addition, managed services were not advanced like they are today – among other tasks, they used to determine if a system was up or down and an IT tech had to manually review log files to look for vulnerabilities.

Modern methods: Today, managed services utilize artificial intelligence and they are widely adopted by businesses of all sizes. Log file review is now automated with alerts, freeing up IT staff to focus on other network aspects. On the subject of proactive security, security awareness training is now widely available to businesses of all sizes, while previously only available at an enterprise level.

Take a Proactive Approach and Avoid Data Loss

Ontech estimates 10% of businesses we encounter in the greater Milwaukee area are in a complete break/fix model. Most are doing some things in a break/fix manner, while others take a proactive approach to IT.

Where does your organization fit in?

Ask yourself – what more can I do to prevent downtime and reputation loss? Is your network utilizing the latest and greatest technology in IT or are you falling behind?

One of the best ways to determine if your network is running outdated IT methods is through a network security assessment.

While network security assessments are important for all businesses, they are of particular importance if your company handles private personal information, credit card info, eCommerce, or you need to maintain compliance.

This is a highly recommended, proactive step we recommend you take sooner rather than later. If you have questions on network security or any other IT area, we encourage you to contact our support team who is standing by at 262-522-8560.

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The Modern Convenience of VoIP Business Phones

The Modern Convenience of VoIP Business Phones

The world of communication has changed enormously in a short period of time. Within just a few decades, business phone technology has transitioned from landlines and cordless phones to the unlimited freedom of early flip phones and now the modern smartphone.

As changes took place, the vast majority of businesses remained frozen in place, relying on the same switchboard systems and hard-wired phones that carried them through the years.

Eventually, adoption rates of Voice over IP, or VoIP took off and still continue to increase today.

This is in part due to the desire to save money and increase mobility, but it has also increased as a result of the rapid rise in remote workers. Without a doubt, VoIP is here to stay.

What Are the Different Types of VoIP Technology?

There are two primary types of VoIP systems, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Businesses implementing a VoIP solution for the first time can choose from on premise and hosted VoIP.

  • Hosted VoIP: This option is generally available for a monthly fee, offering businesses control to more accurately predict phone service costs. Instead of building out a dedicated infrastructure and hosting a VoIP solution onsite, businesses pay a data center to hold that equipment.
  • On Premise VoIP: Businesses can alternatively opt for an on premise VoIP solution, paying up front for either a physical server or virtual machine. Smaller businesses may be able to run the service with nothing more than a computer. In this scenario, Ontech can manage the phone server in the same manner as all other equipment. Businesses that opt for on premise VoIP can also add server care to facilitate patches, updates and other critical security measures.

Which Approach is Best?

Enterprise level organizations were some of the earliest adopters of business VoIP, and now many of them are moving away from hosted phone systems, choosing the security, reliability and control of an on premise solution. Businesses making the switch have three options as they transition:

  1. Buy it outright
  2. Lease with a buyout
  3. Choose a new hosted system

Since the average VoIP business phone system lasts 10 years, think of these choices as renting vs. owning a home. Both options have benefits, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each decision carefully.

Hosted VoIP is a great option for small companies, but ultimately, a good place to start is by evaluating your needs from a functionality perspective. Then contrast functionality with your potential ROI to see which VoIP option would best fit your unique set of needs and future growth plans. If you need assistance, reach out to Ontech’s support team at 262-522-8560 and they can assist your business in finding the right VoIP solution.

Evaluate Your Return on Investment

There is a natural tendency among businesses, even large organizations, to choose a hosted VoIP phone system. However, once a CFO evaluates the true ROI by evaluating aspects like payback period, hosted VoIP begins to look a lot less attractive.

Another aspect to consider is up-front investment, and that is where leasing comes in. Implementing a full on premise VoIP solution can cost thousands of dollars, and spreading that cost out with a lease can be a smart thing to do. VoIP leases are available from 36 to 60 months with a $1 buyout. At Ontech, our VoIP plans are all offered with a 5 year package of firmware and updates. Businesses have the option to renew those agreements when they expire.

Organizations that opt for a lease can take advantage of the internet access they already have, further simplifying the process of installing a VoIP solution. If your business has fiber internet service, you are already paying for high reliability, great uptime and a 4 hour response time. You can harness those benefits to implement a quality VoIP business phone solution.

Business VoIP Requirements

High bandwidth is critical to the successful implementation of a VoIP solution. For this reason, Ontech does not sell VoIP systems without first ensuring quality bandwidth is available. If the internet connection is shared, for instance, the quality and speed of the connection will go up and down, and this will impact reliability of the phone service.

This variability could result in poor call quality, dropped connections and other issues. At Ontech, we want you to avoid these problems, and that is why we take a comprehensive approach in helping businesses throughout Greater Milwaukee implement a reliable and high quality VoIP solution.

Ontech has worked long-term with a leasing partner who provides excellent reliability and top notch service. If you are interested in an on premise VoIP solution, call 262-522-8560 or send us a request online and our support team would gladly assist you with a number of affordable leasing options.

Save money with VoIP
Year in Review: Prepare Your IT Business Network for 2021

Year in Review: Prepare Your IT Business Network for 2021

The year 2020 certainly tested the nerve of IT departments, with support for telecommuting growing rapidly and offices adapting their infrastructures to support social distancing and other CDC guidelines. So what will this mean for business networks, and how can you get your own network ready for 2021 and beyond?

Here are some of the IT areas businesses are expected to prioritize as they ready their networks for the coming year.

Cyber Security Awareness Training

Many businesses are shocked at just how vulnerable their workers are to phishing attacks. Whether at home or in the office, workers will continue to be the weak spots of cyber security, and that is why businesses will be prioritizing cyber security awareness training in 2021.

Cyber security awareness training is a great way to gauge worker knowledge of phishing attacks, ransomware demands and other threats to network security. By instituting this type of training in 2021, businesses can find their weak spots and address them before a devastating cyber-attack takes place.

The design of cyber security awareness training is important, both for business continuity and for effectiveness. Blind campaigns can be designed in a staggered manner, so each department is tested individually without alerting people. Those who fall for simulated phishing attempt receive a pop-up message saying “uh oh, you’ve fallen for this insecure email”, and as a result they are invited to complete further training.

In addition to this staggered approach, Ontech Systems also offers group staff training, with a web-based interface designed to enforce social distancing and other safety measures. But no matter how it is done, this hands-on training will continue to be a vital educational tool for businesses in 2021 and beyond.

Securing Passwords

Password security and the protection of logon credentials has never been more important. As workers were sent home in droves in 2020, phishing emails soon followed suit. These phishing attempts targeted the new army of at-home workers, creating headaches for IT departments and a boon for the bad guys.

As a result, password managers have risen in popularity, and they will continue to be used widely in 2021 and beyond. Password managers can be powerful tools for businesses and their cyber security, as they help prevent workers from using the same passwords over and over at multiple sites.

Evaluating IT Weaknesses

As your business moves forward into 2021, think about the lessons you learned from April to June of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first spiked and workforces turned remote seemingly overnight.

  • What obstacles did you face?
  • What challenges did your business need to overcome?
  • Was the sudden shift to remote work a shock to your IT infrastructure, or was it a smooth transition?
  • Are you confident you are prepared for a similar shock in 2021 and beyond?

The answers to these questions can be very enlightening and in addition to a network security assessment, they will help you assess weaknesses in your current approach to IT management. The coming year offers a golden opportunity to assess and overcome those weak spots.

Adopting SharePoint

There is no doubt that online collaboration will continue to play a starring role in 2021. Working remotely means working together and online collaboration tools like SharePoint help bring it all together.

As the last 12 months fade into memory and the next 12 months come into view, more and more companies are looking for collaboration tools that will drive productivity, improve worker satisfaction and make back-end management tasks easier. SharePoint is one of the most powerful of these collaboration tools, with applications for online meetings, project management and more.

Companies will also be taking a look at Microsoft Teams, another great way to communicate effectively, both in person and across the internet. Whether your workforces are entirely remote, completely in person or a mix of both, Microsoft Teams will become an increasingly important part of the collaboration picture in 2021.

Utilizing Log Access in Microsoft

If the recent wave of cyber-attacks has taught us anything, it is that many threats, even serious ones, can go undetected for weeks or even months. The massive Solar Winds hack is just the latest example, but it should serve as a wake-up call to everyone in the business community.

As 2021 gets underway, rather than poring over logs, IT professionals are turning to AI-powered solutions like Ontech’s managed security services for intrusion alerts in an effort to fight back and protect themselves. By enabling Microsoft’s log access, businesses can also prevent bad actors in the company from accessing sensitive company data.

This powerful feature does not cost a thing, and setting it up is always a smart thing to do. If you need help enabling this feature or making sure it is already running, just give Ontech Systems a call. We can evaluate your network to ensure you are getting the highest possible level of protection in 2021 and beyond. Just give us a call at 262-522-8560 to discuss the opportunities and challenges the New Year has to offer.

Office 365 Risk Watch

Office 365 is a powerful tool for business productivity with many advanced features and benefits. But Microsoft Office 365 also includes an add-on service that actively authorizes all log-ins.

This Risk Watch feature can monitor the network for abnormal activity, like a user attempting access with leaked credentials, sign-on attempts from suspicious IP addresses and unfamiliar locations, sign-ons originating from anonymous IP addresses and malware-infected devices.

Once enabled, Risk Watch provides businesses with valuable activity reports, as well as resolution of unforeseen technical issues. If you need help securing and enabling this powerful add-on to Office 365, just give Ontech Systems a call.

There is reason to hope that 2021 will be a much better year than 2020 and as you prepare your business network for the New Year, you may want to keep these trends in mind. From greater awareness of cyber security and careful evaluation of existing weaknesses, to the enabling of powerful software add-ons, IT departments will have a lot to do in 2021. So take a minute to celebrate the end of 2020 and get ready for a bigger, brighter and more hopeful 2021.

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Why Conduct a Network Risk Assessment?

Why Conduct a Network Risk Assessment?

Is a network risk assessment really necessary?

Without a doubt, 2020 has been an unprecedented year. With pandemics, lock-downs, a planned recession and enormous amount of uncertainty, many things have changed but cyber threats remain the same.

network risk assessmentHackers and cyber criminals have not abandoned their nefarious ways in light of the pandemic. If anything, threats to network security have only ramped up, especially for those at high risk.

To alleviate some of this uncertainty, one of the best things you can do is begin securing your network through a network security assessment.

With an increasing number of employees working remotely on home networks, without the proper precautions in place, one wrong click could allow ransomware to infiltrate your network.

A few startling statistics from 2020 can shed some light on the state of cyber security:

  1. This year, we have seen an increase in targeted ransomware attacks aimed at newly remote workers. Hackers know home Wi-Fi networks are often inherently insecure and they are focusing their efforts on this weakness to exploit users at home.
  2. Businesses are now taking notice of these threats. Nearly 7 in 10 business leaders surveyed feel that cyber threats are increasing.
  3. There are many paths to network intrusion, but some of the most common are compromised passwords, social engineering, actions by disgruntled employees and back doors deliberately built into software and hardware devices.
  4. Security breaches were already at a record high in 2018, but since then the threat has only grown. Cyber security attacks have increased more than 10% since 2018, and 2020 is shaping up to be the worst year so far.

What can be done to combat network security threats?

Take the First Step by Conducting a Network Risk Assessment

The reality is that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Think of a network risk assessment as a baseline or snapshot of your network security. Without knowing your weaknesses, protecting against them will be next to impossible.

What Are the Benefits?

There are many reasons why an assessment is so critical right now, from the need to reassure customers that their data is safe to peace of mind.

  • Concrete Evidence to Build a Case – A network security assessment can allow internal IT staff to pass on valuable information to business leaders, helping them see where they are vulnerable and how they can secure their infrastructure to minimize risk. Decision makers may be reluctant to invest in their network infrastructure, but seeing the deficiencies in black and white might be enough incentive to assure them that the investment in network security is necessary.
  • Business Insurance Policy & Compliance Approval – Business insurance providers want to know companies are doing everything in their power to guard against emerging threats like ransomware and phishing. Without this kind of reassurance, they may be reluctant to provide, or renew their policies. Your organization may be required to undergo a network security assessment in order to obtain a new cyber liability insurance policy or maintain an existing one. You may also need such an assessment to comply with regulations such as HIPAA.
  • A Network Security Benchmark – You cannot improve what you can’t measure. If your network has security gaps, it’s important to find solutions that will specifically address those vulnerabilities rather than a blanket one-size-fits-all network security solution.
  • Cyber security is a Process, Not a Project – New threats are always on the horizon. With new threats emerging, even if you have already undergone a network security assessment, conducting regular audits are the best way to guard against new threats as they continue to advance year after year.

When Should a Network Risk Assessment Be Conducted?

At Ontech Systems, we recommend conducting a network security assessment every one to two years depending on your industry and level of risk. Entities covered under HIPAA will need to undergo more frequent assessments, and nonprofit agencies may require more stringent audits as well.

Municipalities and local government agencies have not yet established frequency requirements for network security assessments, but that does not mean they can ignore the risks. Government agencies of all levels have been frequent targets of ransomware attacks, making network security assessments a critical part of doing business.

What is the Difference between a Risk Assessment and an IT Security Audit?

As with many aspects of IT, there are a variety of names for the same general IT solution. A risk assessment and an IT security audit are essentially the same thing.

Next Steps

Once a network security assessment is completed and the results presented, these important follow-up steps can get underway.

  • Procurement of managed security services and/or additional network security solutions
  • Security awareness training for management and staff
  • Ongoing vulnerability scans
  • The establishment of a cyber security policy
  • Budgeting for cyber security services

Get more details and a printable PDF on what is included in Ontech’s network security assessments here.

If you’re ready to schedule your first or your next, network security assessment, just give our support team a call at 262-522-8560 or reach out to us online.

From network security assessments, to budgeting and even vendor management, Ontech Systems is your full service cyber security partner. We stay on top of the latest threats and vulnerabilities so you don’t have to.

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How to Change IT Providers

How to Change IT Providers

When considering how to change IT providers, the choice is one of the most consequential decisions you will make for your business. Get it right and you can sit back and relax, knowing your IT operations are in the best possible hands. Get it wrong, and you could suffer annoying outages, time-consuming delays and even a devastating loss of data.

Hopefully you got it right the first time, but if not you can change IT companies and enjoy all the benefits that come from working with a true professional. Unfortunately, many businesses are reluctant to switch IT providers, putting up with subpar service out of fear or reluctance to abandon the status quo.

Changing IT providers can be a daunting proposition, and there are many unknown variables to the equation. Businesses considering a change in IT company may face challenges such as:

  • Contract issues: Some businesses don’t even know they are in a contract. Others don’t understand the intricacies of their existing contract, including the terms of the agreement or the penalties for an early exit.
  • Uncertainties over backups, hardware, licensing and email: Can you say with certainty that you own your backups? In many cases, backups are held in the name of the IT company which can make it difficult (but not impossible) to change providers. In addition, some organizations run into issues where hardware, licensing, and subscription services like email are owned by a previous IT company.

At Ontech, we are committed to full transparency, including who owns your backups and how these essential files are handled. When you choose Ontech as your outsourced IT provider, all backups are stored in your company’s name, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Questions to Ask When Changing IT Companies

No matter how dissatisfied you are with your current provider, switching to a new IT company requires an adequate amount of consideration to ensure they will be a good fit both now and into the future as your business grows. There are a number of key questions to ask when evaluating IT providers.

  1. How large is your company and are your services scalable? You need to know your new provider is committed to growth, both yours and theirs.
  2. What parts of the country (or the world) do you cover? Is the IT company regionally based, or do they provide service from coast to coast?
  3. Do you offer multiple types of service? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managed IT services. Ask about various levels of support, from basic data protection to complex IT integration services.
  4. Are response times guaranteed? When your servers are down and your website is offline, every minute feels like an hour. Guaranteed response times help ensure your IT infrastructure, and your business, will be up and running as quickly as possible.
  5. Will my business have a dedicated account manager? Having a single point of contact is essential, so ask who will be handling your account and how you can get in touch with them.
  6. Will I have a dedicated technician? Always ask if you will have your own assigned technician, a professional who you can rely on to know the ins and outs of your network.
  7. What type of training program do your technicians undergo? Managed IT is a complicated industry, and ongoing education is an essential part of the process. Be sure to ask about training programs the company provides for its front-line technicians and other essential staff members.
  8. How will I be charged and how can I pay? Ask about pricing plans, payment terms, and available methods of payment.
  9. Do you support vendor management? Often times it can be daunting to identify the right equipment or vendors needed for a project. Some IT companies handle everything for you, while others require you to do the research and purchase equipment on your own which can be overwhelming and cause problems down the road.
  10. Do you supply the hardware or just support? Managing IT infrastructure is the job of the company you are hiring, but some firms also take care of the hardware requirements. Knowing what you are getting is essential if you are to budget properly.
  11. What happens if I cancel? Hopefully you will be happy with your new IT provider, but it is still important to understand their cancellation policy, including how your files will be transferred and whether or not an early cancellation fee will be assessed.
  12. What is (and is not) covered under the contract? It is important to know exactly what is covered under the support contract with your new IT company. Just as importantly, you need to understand what is excluded, so you can factor those exclusions into your future plans.
  13. Do you work with preferred providers? Some IT companies work with specific hardware and software providers, while others are more flexible. If you have a specific software product or hardware brand in mind, make sure the IT company supports it.
  14. Ask about remote management and monitoring. Ongoing monitoring can spot intrusion attempts, stop ransomware demands in their tracks and help your business run more efficiently. Always ask if remote management services and ongoing monitoring are included as part of your contract.

We invite you to contact us at 262-522-8560 and consider Ontech Systems as your IT partner. Our support team will gladly answer these questions and any others you have in order to make a smart decision.

Common Mistakes When Changing IT Companies

It’s helpful to learn from others’ mistakes to ensure your transition is as easy as possible. These are some common mistakes to watch out for:

  • Making significant changes immediately: Ensure your new IT provider fully understands your network, along with your current and future growth plans before making significant changes. Many IT companies kick things off by implementing a significant number of changes that can send your operations and staff into a flurry to get acquainted with the new system. This is also a red flag that they don’t fully understand your systems and aren’t willing to take the time to do so.
  • Not conducting thorough research: Be sure to take the time to thoroughly check the new company’s references. This includes conducting online research to read unbiased reviews from past and current customers.
  • Choosing a provider that does things “their way”: Some IT companies like to do things their way and their way only. As a new client, they push their preferred software and hardware solutions rather than evaluating your network and making recommendations that are best for your business. Be sure your new provider plans to kick things off with a complete audit and assessment of your existing network before they make recommendations for improvement.
  • Choosing a provider that relies on the break/fix model: Proactive monitoring is the modern day approach that your new IT company should adhere to. The industry has shifted away from the outdated break/fix model in support of a proactive approach that can help alleviate smaller issues before they become major problems.

Ontech’s Approach to Onboarding

At Ontech, we know that changing IT companies is a critical time, and we strive to make the process as simple as possible. In the end, it is our approach to onboarding that makes all the difference. When you switch to Ontech for your managed IT service, we will:

  • Identify your needs: Ontech’s complementary Network Discovery process identifies the documentation needed, simplifying the onboarding process.
  • Plan the move: Once you decide to move forward, Ontech provides a letter to the existing IT provider, asking for the necessary documentation to guide the process forward.
  • Plan the kickoff: Next we will schedule a kick-off call to introduce the members of our team, review the necessary documentation, install an inspector program to automate the pulling of data and schedule an in-person onboarding visit.
  • Implement the move: Once the necessary steps have been completed, we will settle on a date for the implementation. Once that date is agreed to, we will begin to load the documentation into our IT Glue Documentation platform. We will also change passwords, removing access for the old vendor, providing a safe and secure onboarding process for your company.
  • Review the results: The final steps ensure you are happy with our services. During the 30-day review we will send a customer satisfaction survey and sit down with you to discuss the implementation and answer any questions you have. We will also schedule a 90-day review, along with an annual IT review meeting and a budget meeting if necessary.

If you are tired of slow, unresponsive service and a lack of expertise, it may be time to change IT companies. At Ontech, we are dedicated to making the transition as simple and painless as possible, and it all starts with a quick 10-minute call to see if we’re a good fit: 262-522-8560

We encourage you to contact Ontech today to share any concerns, ask questions and learn more about our exceptional IT services and reputation.

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