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Tech Service Today Blog

Is HOURLY RATE a Reliable Way To Evaluate IT Service Providers?

 

 

Most large companies with lots of facilities recognize the economic benefits of outsourcing IT services to a third-party company rather than hiring a full-time IT person at every location.  But the process of finding the “right” IT services company is not so easy a decision.

 

Obviously your primary objective is to find a company who can install and service the technologies your company requires, meet your technical and business needs, and deliver exactly what you expect. Unfortunately there are lots of bad actors and false advertisers in every industry, including the world of IT Service Providers. So it is often difficult to compare pricing from one company to the next and get a true apples-to-apples comparison.

 

If your company is looking for an IT Service Provider, it’s important to learn what questions to ask them and which answers should prompt a red flag.  If you ask a prospective IT Service Provider a vague question like “What is your company’s pricing structure?”, then chances are their answer will also be vague -- leaving out various charges and fees that you won’t learn about until you receive your first invoice.

 

Most IT procurement personnel ask potential service providers how much they charge per hour, and then use that Hourly Rate as the key data point by which they choose an on-site services contractor.  The problem with this kind of evaluation is that an hourly rate is almost never a complete, consistent data point by which a true apples-to-apples comparison can be performed.

 

IT service providers recognize that most Buyers/Procurement Agents focus primarily on the Hourly Rate when evaluating potential partners.  So many reduce the basic Hourly Rate on quotes to prospective customers, and make up for that shortfall by adding fine print about when that rate is applicable and when other higher rates are charged -- not to mention the assortment of hidden fees that most clients won’t learn about until after a service call has been completed.


Let’s take a look at some of the more common pricing shell games that IT service providers play with Hourly Rates to attract new customers, and the questions you should ask prospective IT service providers to expose their higher rates and miscellaneous hidden fees before you sign them up as a vendor:

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Eliminate Network Failures at the Physical Layer (and improve your job security)

 

 

Did you know the average CIO’s career with any given company is less than 5-years?

While better offers influence some CIOs to switch employers, there are many less-desirable reasons for CIO turnover. In the case of large, multi-site companies, a CIO's career can end quickly just by failing to give ample consideration to one component of a new network. 

 

Failure to test entire new solutions from end-to-end can turn what should have been a successful technology deployment project into a nightmare of catastrophic proportions.  And the biggest culprit -- the network components that CIO’s spend the least amount of time considering, planning for, testing, and/or allocating budget toward -- is the physical cabling infrastructure.  

 

In a Predominantly Wireless World, is Cabling Still Important?

Absolutely.  Every wireless (Wifi) network you use is made up of wireless access points and routers that are connected to the Internet with -- you guessed it -- cables.

 

Fourteen years ago, studies performed by organizations like Gartner Group and PC Magazine claimed that “Seventy percent of LAN failures are caused by problems with the cabling.”  

 

A more recent study by Fluke Networks claims “Poor data cabling has been known to cause as much as half of all network failures.

 

The physical layer, premise wiring that represents the passive infrastructure of every network is called a structured cabling system (SCS). A standards-based structured cabling system is supposed to last at least 10 years – far longer than any other component of your network. Because an SCS is a long-term investment, you would think CIOs would spend at least as much time and money on their network cabling as they spend on network equipment and software.  But if they were, then why are 50%-70% of network failures still attributed to cable problems?

 

If you are a CIO or IT/Network Executive and enjoy your current place of employment, then you need to understand how certain small, seemingly insignificant decisions you make about your network cabling can cause a dramatic increase or decrease in the number of network failures at the physical layer of your network.  Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why your cabling is causing you headaches:

 

 

 

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Color-Coding Cables Can Clear IT Cobwebs

 

 

IT and Network Managers spend every day swatting at the proverbial flies made up of major and minor network and equipment issues. Their lives are so filled with unexpected issues that any advice which eliminates a common source of frustration to them is generally appreciated.  For that reason, I’d like to explain how color-coding your cabling can help clear some of those cobwebs out of your face, and allow you to stay focused on the important tasks.


During my 25-years in the networking industry, I have visited IT & Networking professionals in every industry all over the United States.  In nearly every Network Engineer’s and/or Desktop/IT Manager’s office (or their Telco Closets and/or Data Center) I have consistently spotted one common asset. It’s not a tool or tester, but typically a cardboard box (sometimes a milk crate) filled with a tangled mess of patch cables of varying lengths and colors.

It is from this rats nest that network engineers and/or IT/Desktop support technicians dig for cables whenever they need one.  But it’s usually a frustrating hassle because the cables get tangled on the thumb tabs (often breaking them off) and it takes a long time to find the length they need.  For those IT professionals, I always suggest the creation of a color-coding scheme.

  

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Networks are like Hurricanes - Reasons Why Yours Has Been Downgraded (Part 3 of 3)

 

 

On Monday we launched a discussion about the similarities between hurricanes and networks, focusing on speed as the most prominent and revealing characteristic of each.  While hurricane speeds are rated by several different categories, the Category of cabling used in your network can limit the network speeds you can achieve.  But even when you think you have the right Category of cable in place to support higher speeds, there are three common reasons why your network may not be running at the speeds you expect.

 

In parts one and two of this series, we addressed the first two reasons why cabling may have down-graded your network speeds: Cheap Cables and Counterfeit Cables.

 

In this final installment, we will cover reason number three:  Improper Terminations of your cabling.

 

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Networks are like Hurricanes - Reasons Why Yours Has Been Downgraded (Part 2 of 3)

 

 

In the first segment of this series, we highlighted the similarities between hurricanes and networks, focusing on speed as the most commonly measured characteristic of each. And then we explored one of the three most common reasons why your network cabling can downgrade the speeds of your entire network: using Cheap Cabling.

 

In this segment, we will cover the topic of Counterfeit Cabling and why you need to avoid making the mistake of purchasing and installing it on your network.

 

 

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Networks are like Hurricanes - Reasons Why Yours Has Been Downgraded (Part 1 of 3)

 

 

With Hurricane Irma dominating the news lately, I can’t help but notice the similarities between hurricanes and networks. While a meteorologist monitors a hurricane's changes in pressure via Millibars, an IT Manager measures network performance via Megabits Per Second (Mbps).  But when either of these professionals sees a significant decrease in their respective metrics, it is cause for serious concern. 

 

Obviously speed is the core metric used to measure how formidable any hurricane or network is. So it makes sense that hurricanes move into higher Categories when their wind speeds increase, just as your network cabling must be upgraded to a higher Category in order to achieve faster data speeds.

 

For example, a network infrastructure made up of Category 3 cabling will top out at a speed of 10 Mbps.  If you upgrade to Category 5 (or 5e), then your data can flow at speeds of 100-1000 Mbps.  And when you upgrade to Category 6, 6a, 7, and Cat8, your speeds increase exponentially.  At least they should.

 

So why is it that after installing a Category 5e/6/7 structured cabling system in your facility, your network still may not be running as fast as it should be?  This is a point of real frustration for conscientious IT Managers who have upgraded to the fastest network switches, installed high-speed copper and fiber optic cabling throughout their facilities, and implemented the most powerful, liquid-cooled servers on the planet -- only to hear network users continue to complain about slow speeds.

 

Like a chain, a network is only as strong as its weakest link...or as fast as its slowest component.  So if your network still isn't achieving the speeds that the myriad hardware manufacturers promised in their marketing literature before you upgraded to their high-speed equipment, then your network cabling is likely the weak link.  

 

The purpose of this three-part blog series is to highlight the three most common decision-making errors that IT Managers make when selecting and installing new network cabling, and how each will prevent your network from ever running at hurricane speeds.

 

 

 

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How to Win Approval for IT projects from Non-IT stakeholders - WEBINAR

 

 

Technology leaders and business executives speak very different languages. So when an IT leader seeks approval for a project involving the roll-out of new technology, their success is solely dependent on their ability to bridge the gap between the technical language they speak and the business language understood by their company’s non-IT stakeholders and decision makers.

 

If you are an IT Leader still struggling to successfully translate IT in MBA language, then join Tech Service Today for a How to Discuss IT Projects with Non-IT Stakeholders webinar on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 at 2 PM Eastern (11 AM Pacific).

This webinar will provide IT managers, directors, VPs, and CIOs with the framework and tools needed to prepare an IT project proposal that not only speaks the language of your company’s non-IT stakeholders but wins their approval too.

 

Hosted by Tim Sauer - an IT/Networking industry veteran who has spent 20+ years helping IT professionals map their technical needs and goals over the the business goals that decision-makers care about most - this webinar will teach you ways to significantly improve your chances of getting that next IT project approved...quickly.

 

To see a few basic steps that will be presented in much greater detail in our webinar, see our recent blog post titled How To Discuss IT Projects With Non-IT Stakeholders.



  

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How To Discuss IT Projects with Non-IT Stakeholders

 

 

Technology leaders and business executives speak very different languages. So when an IT leader seeks approval for a project involving the roll-out of new technology, their success is solely dependent on their ability to bridge the gap between the technical language they speak and the business language understood by their company’s non-IT stakeholders and decision makers.

 

The likelihood of a project getting approved drops significantly if an IT leader fails to effectively translate their technical needs and goals into the kind of business needs and goals that resonate with their non-IT colleagues - a process called SELLING.


Most IT professionals are not, by nature, salespeople. In fact, many of my IT colleagues neither like nor trust most salespeople – or “the suits” as I’ve heard several engineers refer to them. So asking any technical specialist to think like a salesperson is like asking them to cross over to the dark side.


But fear not, my fellow nerds. By following a few simple guidelines, you can learn to learn to communicate with the non-IT business leaders in your company in a way that gets your IT project approved, and doesn’t require you to trade in your pocket-protector and jeans for hair-gel and a suit.

  

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Three Pain Points That Only IT Leaders Of Retail Chains Can Understand

 

 

The retail industry is a constantly changing, ever evolving environment into which an ever-growing number of different technologies are frequently introduced in an effort to improve the customer experience and the company’s profits.  As explained in our previous post addressing the challenges that IT leaders of Restaurant Chains face, there are just as many unique pain points that the IT staffs of Retail Chains must deal with on a daily basis.  

 

Using insights gathered from several retail customers and some industry research, here are Three Pain Points that only IT Leaders of Retail Chains Can Understand

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Three Pain Points That Only IT Leaders Of Restaurant Chains Can Understand

 

The physical environments inside food service establishments are unique and prove to be far more harsh to IT equipment & systems than those in almost every other industry.  If you haven't experienced bacon grease spatter as the cause of a router failure, or witnessed a deep fryer turn a brand-new digital order display into an unreadable, unusable light blob in just a few weeks, then you probably can’t appreciate the unique challenges facing Restaurant IT Managers.

 

Thanks to input from several customers who happen to live in that role, I’m happy to present Three Pain Points that only IT Leaders of Restaurant Chains Can Understand

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