Welcome to the SysAid Blog - the place to go to find out where the IT industry is going, and what is SysAid’s role in it.
Whether you’re a small startup with limited funds or an established company just trying to test different software, many businesses make the initial decision to use free asset management software. Free software is cost efficient, handles the basic needs of many companies, and allows you to experience the benefits of asset management without going all in.
However, there will eventually come a time when free asset management software will no longer suffice. As your business grows and expands, so will your IT needs. In order to make sure your asset management software will be able to support your needs, here are some signs to let you know when you’ve outgrown your free software.
1. You need frequent technical support
Most free software vendors’ offer limited support through community forums or access to a FAQ section. This might be sufficient for startup companies that are bootstrapping, but larger sized companies with multiple needs tend to run into a lot more technical issues that need to be resolved quickly and subsequently require access to phone and email support 24/7.
Consider the amount of time and resources used to figure out how to solve technical issues on your own. That time could be much better used for completing projects or other high priority tasks. With 24/7 support, issues can be resolved immediately.
2. You have a high number of users
If your company is growing rapidly, you will need software that can accommodate all of the users and their devices (especially if your company does BYOD). Free software will limit the amount of end users and assets that can be used.
When the amount of users allowed is capped, so is the opportunity for growth. If the number of employees you have is constantly growing and you are even considering going internationally, lift restrictions and upgrade to a paid asset management software.
3. You want a more customized experience
In general, any type of free software will only allow basic customization if any at all. To create a sense of unity and to establish the company brand, having a customized layout (logo, colors, UI) will help further your company’s identity and setup things in accordance to your specific needs.
4. You want more bang for your buck
Investing a little bit of money into paid asset management software will go a long way. By no means we think free software isn’t good. However, free software works great when there’s no sense of urgency and you just want to test out software without committing to a 30 day trial or a subscription plan.
Free asset management software imposes limits such as the inability to print certain reports and get complete analytics, limited remote access, and less integration. When you upgrade to paid software, you’re able to enjoy the entire capabilities asset management tools offer such as password services, setting up tasks and projects, and being able to completely manage all of the assets in your network.
It’s easy to be tempted by the allure of the word FREE, but free asset management won’t suffice forever. When free software won’t cut it anymore, step up to a paid plan and get the most of your asset inventory tool.
Asset Management is just one of the many features supported by SysAid’s Service Desk Software. By upgrading your free edition to SysAid’s Basic, Full or Enterprise editions, you get all the essentials for IT service management in one service desk, including a robust Help Desk, Asset Management, Knowledge Base, Remote Control, ITIL Change and Problem Management, advanced customization, SLA, and more.
Can’t decide which edition is best for you? Click here to see SysAid’s feature comparison matrix.
Managing mobile costs is a challenge for organizations of all sizes. Trends such as BYOD might be leading to a reduction in work device expenses, but operational expenses, software and security costs will be growing. The situation becomes more complex when estimating a budget to cover these costs becomes a long process that requires the collection of data across all departments and management levels.
While it often seems easy to think that the benefits that come along with BYOD are justifiable, BYOD involves many different costs that in the long run, can hurt your business if they become excessive or disproportionate. Mobile expense management is certainly a hot topic. However, the question is, how do you manage these expenses correctly?
You must have a benchmark or estimate of what the current mobile usage of your company is before you can begin to manage it. In today’s global economy where it’s common for businesses to have offices in several different countries, tracking company-wide mobile use can be difficult. Certain carriers are distinct to specific countries which makes unification an issue. There are a few different options to help in this situation:
Consolidating all of the company usage can be difficult, but it’s a necessary step in order to manage all of the mobile expenses being incurred.
Certain departments will have different mobile device needs and usage. For example, the sales team will mainly use their mobile phones to make calls, send emails, and in some cases text message. The IT department will probably use their phones for emails and to monitor support tickets. It would not make sense to allocate the same amount of talking minutes to the sales team as you would to the IT support department.
Knowing how different departments use mobile devices is also beneficial for keeping costs down. Enrolling every device in contracts that include full features could be a tremendous misuse of the company budget if the employees aren’t using them all.
Mobile device contracts do not scale down every month according to your usage. If your company signs up for unlimited text messaging and employees only send 100 texts a month, the company will still be billed at the unlimited rate. This can result in thousands of lost dollars.
One of the reasons BYOD became popular is because companies recognized employees were often using company provided devices for personal use. The problem this created was that companies ended up footing the bill for employees to make unauthorized personal calls with company equipment.
While this still occurs today, BYOD has helped because employees use their personal devices for business. In order to better manage mobile expenses, companies have to make sure that they are only paying for mobile devices being used for business. Thankfully, this once difficult task has been made much easier with a Mobile Device Management Software.
MDM software allows companies to see how each employee is using their devices. If the monthly billing is unusually high one month, companies can look into how each device was used throughout the month and determine which employee is causing the issue.
Overall mobile device usage has risen substantially year after year. However, this shouldn’t automatically be used as an excuse to increase the mobile device budget. Companies should analyze the costs being incurred by mobile devices and the benefits being gained as a result. This can be done by monitoring overall productivity, sales, and other measurable factors that might be affected by mobile device usage (positively or negatively).
Back in my previous life, I would work occasionally with a mythical figure who could do magic—The Reporting Guy.
Here was a person who could pull all kinds of details from the ITSM solution and come up with the most incredible spreadsheets, pivot tables and slide decks imaginable.
There were colours, graphs, numbers that changed magically if you changed something else—all by the flick of a magic wand (or probably an Excel macro).
Of course there were the kinds of calculations you would expect to see in a normal ITSM solution, such as the numbers of incidents and service requests, including those resolved within their Service Level Agreement (SLA) time.
But the Reporting Guy had the ability to pull all kinds of facts and figures and manipulate them to do all kinds of things—a pied piper of spreadsheets, if you will.
Of course I am being perhaps a little facetious, because often in larger projects and deployments, teams work independently of each other and occasionally cross paths.
So while my erstwhile numerically-minded colleague could macro numbers to death, from my perspective at the time, so long as the tool captured that core data for it to be pulled out and acted on, then all was well.
It is only when you lift yourself away from just looking at the tool that you realise why Service Reporting deserves to be a process in itself, and needs some operational AND strategic consideration.
You come to realise that the ITSM Reporting Guy was just pulling out the bare bones of the data—sometimes the easiest things to manage, but not necessarily the right things.
We measure to derive value, an understanding of efficiency (or otherwise), and to satisfy ourselves and stakeholders that we are doing the right things, and doing them well.
Everybody measures something, and most ITSM tools offer abilities to dashboard results so you can see at a glance what is open, closed, when, where, how, who—well you get the idea.
But an important concept to grasp is that we should measure performance in a meaningful way.
By that I do not mean a stick with which to clobber a team, but as a means of improving and increasing the efficiency of the teams that are providing a service.
This is often a common request on various forums—as if there is one standard list that fits every range of outcomes for every business, right off the bat.
Well of course, the ITIL books give those considered to be best practice at the end of the process sections, and they are called best practice for a reason.
It is as good a starting point as any, but it is just that.
As part of Continual Service Improvement, you should be reviewing that list and if you have developed other, maybe more sophisticated metrics, then move away from that starting point.
You have to take a long hard look at the reasons why this information is important.
If we look at a Service Desk, and how efficiently they process Incidents and Requests coming in, they can use those figures to drive a variety of conversations with the business to improve their service.
But what about the business view?
The numbers only represent a small part of their sphere of interest in control.
How much is it costing the business for each request or incident?
Suddenly we are taking a broader look at the service end to end—not just whether an end user is satisfied they got their new smartphone in time, or their email service back.
I am being facetious again, of course, but with a serious purpose—forget about facts, figures and numbers for a minute and consider this.
When used properly, the results of your reporting feeds into the continuing lifecycle of your solution.
They need to be more than just a pretty deck, and key stakeholders need to be accountable if the pictures do not look as pretty.
And much like my point above, you cannot avoid having to attach some thought and rationale behind your reports.
For example, I looked over some figures recently where there was a jump in the numbers of incidents in one particular month compared to others, and a dramatic fall-away in others.
To explain this I have to look at the bigger picture - the client was an educational establishment where incidents would spike as a new intake of students came in to the premises, and maybe another spike after Christmas when students came back with new toys (laptops, smartphones) as presents.
The numbers would dwindle over the summer vacation period as most students would return home for the holidays.
Always look to the context behind the reports.
Perhaps some other options to consider, as you build your pet list of metrics:
In the modern world, technology operates in a neutral space where it can be used to fulfill a variety of potentialities. This is not something unique to modern technological advancements—people have often commented how the two greatest orators of the 20th century were Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King. Their talents were equal, what separated them was how they chose to direct and harness these talents.
Well here in the 21st century, technology is king and as much as we mere mortals often find ourselves gazing with awe upon the newest fad—be it a website, a smartphone or a service— that doesn't mean that it is benefiting us in a meaningful way. Obviously the potentiality for technology to be harmful is vast and I do not need to highlight the dangers of war and the deadly role technology can play in that arena. For me, I often find interest in those technologies that were maybe once helpful but due to lack of forward momentum have become a weight around our virtual necks.
A great example of this are touch-tone phone menus. Their ubiquity is only matched by the pained expressions universally displayed by those who have to suffer long minutes waiting to hear which number will generate a real person on the end of line, any person, even the wrong person!
As someone who likes to keep up with the lesser news stories of the day, I was therefore greatly heartened that someone had taken the proverbial digital bull by the horns in a brave effort to save us all a lot of time. A retired IT manager (and fellow Brit) by the name of Nigel Clarke has launched a website listing the call center menu sequences for accessing thousands of services. He discovered that some automated menus have nearly 80 options, which can leave people waiting for up to 6 minutes, even without the customary delay due to lack of available humans!
In a statement that would be a most fitting epitaph for any of us who are fed up of tech being used in the wrong way, he stated, "I'm not against the system, but I am against bad design."
My sentiments exactly, I tip my hat to you sir....
Have you ever fantasized about what your life would be like if you, say, hired the Mafia to handle your service requests?
Hmmmm, interesting, right?
Well, SysAid has created a short, HILARIOUS movie trailer starring members of the SysAid team that combines the Sopranos and your daily life dealing with IT tasks and needy end users.
Wishing you all a Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day—we appreciate what you do as an IT admin every day!
Hope we gave you the gift of hysterical laughter on your special day.
Increasing productivity should be a top priority for every IT support staff. In order to get more productivity from your staff, they need to be motivated. Contrary to popular belief, financial gain is not the sole motivator for all employees. Motivation comes from a variety of sources. In order for employees to perform better, it’s your duty to find out what motivates them.
The first step of improving your IT support staff’s performance is to determine what their motivators are. Humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow created a visual representation that describes the basic needs of all human beings called the Hierarchy of Needs. The chart is setup as a pyramid and consists of the following level from bottom to top:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is important because it helps determine the best way to motivate the individual members of the support staff depending on where they are in hierarchy. For example, a young entry level IT support intern is probably at the bottom level. In this case, simply having a job and making money could be enough to motivate him.
However, someone in a higher ranking position such as a support analyst may be higher up on the hierarchy. They could be motivated by the possibility of a promotion or recognition for their years of service. Once you know where an employee is in their life, it becomes easier to figure out how to motivate them.
Motivation starts from the top. When employees see that supervisors and high ranking executives are motivated, driven, and have a passion to succeed, they tend to absorb those same characteristics. Positivity is contagious. However, building relationships with your staff is even better.
Are you locked in your office all day, only dealing with executives below you? Take the time to walk around your IT department, listen and observe how your IT staff is handling requests and issues. Ask questions and listen to their needs. Are they happy with the IT management software you use? (I’m sure they are happy if you use SysAid). Does it increase their productivity? What is the hardest goal to accomplish and, why?
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is setting goals but failing to set rewards when the goals are attained. Setting a goal to decrease the response time to customer issues by 25% is great, but what do the employees get once this is achieved?
Intrinsic rewards such as a feeling of accomplishment will be enough for a few employees, but taking it a step further by giving some form of extrinsic rewards when company goals are meant will motivate the support staff to reach those goals both for the company and for themselves.
When employees feel like they have done something correctly, they try to repeat the same behavior. Taking the time to recognize employees who are on the right path and making a strong contribution to the support staff will motivate everyone to follow suit.
In the book The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, they describe a technique called the One Minute Appraisal. The One Minute Appraisal involves taking one minute out of your day to acknowledge and praise an employee when they have done something correctly. The theory is that these small positive interactions will help employees feel better about themselves and what they’re doing and ultimately perform better.
Corporate culture is your company’s identity. It sets the stage for how the company operates, handles customers, how employees are treated and every other aspect of business. Creating a corporate culture that emphasizes the importance of employees (such as encouraging employees to be healthy) and working as a team will give employees motivation to perform at their best for the team and not just for themselves.
Many companies have taken this approach and have had tremendous success with employee morale and productivity such as Apple, Zappos, Google, and others.