What 'Proactive' Technology Service Actually Means

Proactive” is one of those buzzwords that everyone is throwing around in the technology sphere these days.

Proactive” is also one of those buzzwords that has a vastly different meaning depending on who you ask.

To some IT support firms, having a complex alerting system in place qualifies as proactive service, since at times the problem can be intercepted and remediated before you, the end user, realizes that anything has gone awry.

Others will define it as sending an engineer onsite every month to sit in a conference room and wait for staff members to walk in with an issue they may not have called into the helpdesk.

Still others will have a completely different concept of the term, but will still bundle their support model under a bedazzled umbrella of “proactivity.”

Now, reacting quickly to problems is great. It is a necessary component to any decent technology support model, and isn’t anything to criticize. Having an on-site component to IT service gets a thumbs-up, too. I feel strongly that this is a critical element to any successful partnership.

But none of these approaches actually provide proactive service.

In the first scenario, support teams are quite literally re acting to the alerts that their monitoring agents are generating. In the second, the engineer is waiting for staff to report their problems after their work has been interrupted to the point that they’ll choose to abandon it completely to ask for help. This is also completely reactive in nature.

True proactive service is locating and remediating problems before they can even be defined as “problems.” It involves procedures like:

  • Having pre-scheduled, consistent on-site visits that are not dictated by emergencies
  • Regularly performing server health checks to identify warning signs and trends early on
  • Walking around to every staff member and asking them how they’re doing, what tasks they might wish were easier to perform, or what nagging questions they may have been keeping to themselves
  • Periodically analyzing helpdesk issues for trends that may indicate a budding large-scale problem
  • Systematically analyzing the overall health of the client relationship to uncover any trouble or deficiencies

All of this work should be done within the context of your business’s priorities, too; is it more important to you that a less-than-savvy VIP gets some hands-on attention so that she can work more productively, or that the server that supports your mission-critical line-of-business application is in perfect health with consistently successful backups?

That isn’t something for the IT company to decide on the fly, but rather something to be discussed and incorporated into your service before it comes up as an emergency.

Overall, this kind of approach will position your IT support ahead of the large part of your issues — not chasing behind them.

And from here, your IT team can focus their attention on higher-level initiatives like transforming your technology into a catalyst that will drive revenue, efficiencies, and competitive advantages for your business.


As originally published in the American City Business Journals.

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