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Taking the Break Out of Break Fix

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Transitioning from Reactive Response to Proactive Action

Enterprise IT departments that have been built to react to network events that cause networks to slow-down or go-down, as opposed to proactively working to prevent these events. They find it difficult to make the transition from ‘reactive response’ to ‘proactive action.’ Resource management and budgetary processes are built around response. IT personnel are often hired with response-based skills and are evaluated on their ability to perform them. IT personnel reacting to data delivery issues becomes part of the normal cadence of the IT department. Reactive troubleshooting and remediation is understood and accepted as one of the core functions of the IT department, slowness and/or downtime notwithstanding.

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IT Performance is Typically Evaluated on Successful Response

Effective reactive troubleshooting connotes favorable IT department performance. Efforts can be witnessed and measured (e.g. Help Desk ticket analysis). Results can be seen, felt, experienced. “Bob fixed the issue.” People experience success. The IT department did its job. “Mary in accounting is happy.” Efforts are being expended to fix the problem and when the problem is fixed, the task is successfully completed to the satisfaction of all. But the question is does this approach best serve the enterprise? Bob did was he is paid to do. He solved the problem. The IT department enjoys a success. The end user is satisfied. But the fact remains that someone, or many, was/were unable to do their job for a period of time. Expense budgeting for proactive services where it is difficult to quantify ROI often precludes proactive-based offerings from being considered. In many cases, investments in proactive IT efficiency services are like insurance. They’re investments in protecting against unknown, and potentially catastrophic, events and/or occurrences. Quantifying the benefits of taking proactive measures to optimize uptime and maximize performance is obscure. The benefits are harder to experience because the proactive efforts, at best, maintain the norm. If proactive efforts are successful they go unnoticed and the impact is unappreciated.

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Difficult to Quantify ROI on Proactive Action

From the financial perspective time and money are being invested in efforts that don’t result in immediate return and meet resistance for approval. A successful transition will need the financial stakeholders to recognize the ROI of investments made in proactive approaches to improving data delivery efficiency are realized over time. While there is a distinct difference between ‘Proactive’ and ‘Reactive’ support processes, in an ideal environment both are important. Both should be endorsed, supported and budgeted. If left uncontrolled, reactive work will always trump proactive work. As proactive work is postponed in favor of reactive, the number of reactive issues increases. Proactive must be given the right focus.

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The Best Approach is a Blend

Ideally the enterprise moves to utilizing a blend of proactive and reactive data delivery mechanism maintenance. As proactive services take root and enable emerging causes of network downtime and slowness to be identified and remediated before impact, the need for reactive troubleshooting diminishes. While this will likely cause a cultural shift in thinking within the IT department, the benefits to the enterprise will be realized in greater productivity of its knowledge workers. Within the IT management construct, the complex interwoven relationship between proactive and reactive should be understood, appreciated and accounted for.

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