IT Productivity provides innovative IT solutions and proactive support to small- and medium-sized businesses in Maryland and Washington, DC. Pat Cooley, President and CEO, recently spoke with Megan Bozman about supporting their clients, eliminating productivity penalties, and growing the business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporting the Transition to Work from Home
“At the beginning of the pandemic, all our energy was focused on our current clients. As providers of outsourced, managed IT services, we were helping them transition to remote work, and that was the focus of our messaging. We also received referrals from people who had challenges, including a private school with three locations that we helped prepare for remote learning. Additionally, we conducted surveys to find out how the users we support were doing at home.
Growing the Business Through Referrals
Helping our existing clients was our focus from March through June. By early August, we were setting up meetings again with new prospects. We’ve earned new business from referrals from our partners and customers, and our inside sales rep focuses on setting up executive level meetings.
Educating Small Business Leaders on IT
Most small businesses think they’re fine IT-wise and many are realizing they’re not. We conduct a technology alignment process to understand our client’s infrastructure and help them move forward. This sort of process is something most SMBs lack. The assessment gives executives something black and white to help them understand, even if they’re not highly technical. COVID and remote work made it clear where IT gaps were for many businesses.
We held a webinar focused on educating attendees on secure and productive IT for 2021. We were pleased with the outcome, both the quantity of registrants and attendees. Registrants included existing clients and partners, as well as prospective new clients.
The More Mature the Cloud Adoption, the Better
IT Productivity focuses on the Microsoft 365 and Azure cloud stack with customers. The more mature their adoption of Microsoft cloud was, the better off they were, and the easier it was to go work from home. If they were already natively in the cloud, there was no pivot or change.
During the first wave of supporting clients, it was easier for them to see that they needed tools such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Microsoft Voice. Some of our newer clients weren’t set up well for remote work, and that’s a big pivot for the business and its employees. We conducted our technology alignment process, examining their IT compliance and alignment with different standards and assigning a score. The probability of our clients having problems such as the ransomware attack Baltimore County Public Schools recently suffered is much lower if they adopt the recommendations of the assessment. Our new clients have made major strides forward.
COVID-Based Phishing Attacks
We also conduct user awareness training, such as simulated phishing attacks. Post-COVID, a higher percentage of attacks are through phishing. Many small businesses applied for PPP loans, and those responses are coming back from automated systems and requesting financial info. The criticality combined with the sense of urgency makes these targets for phishing. Training can make users aware so they can more easily spot phishing attempts.
Productivity, Risk, & Expense
When I talk about lowering costs, I’m encouraging clients to invest more upfront for better results in productivity. Paying more for IT that’s more secure and productive and lowering risks. I’m trying to reframe and help them see it that way. As leaders we either choose to pay the price of leadership or we need to be prepared to suffer the cost of consequences. I believe the cost of proactive IT is substantially less than the risk and eventual cost of consequences.
During our technology alignment process, we’ll uncover technical debt and risks our clients weren’t aware of, as well as what we call “productivity penalties.” For example, employees may have been going through the office manager for IT support. With our clients, all end-users come directly to us for support, and it’s our job to help make everyone productive. Additionally, some security enhancements, such as multi-factor authentication, can be both easy and cheap to put in place. When I hear clients using terms like, “productivity penalties,” I know we’re moving along in the thought process.
A Rare Area of Certainty
We have more issues today and more uncertainty in the COVID world than ever, and I believe for SMBs already invested in Microsoft, IT is not uncertain moving into 2021. Making these investments is the right decision.
The Microsoft pricing approach is per-month, per-user. We can move forward with the right security frame of reference, and the stack works in-office or remote. SMBs can rely on the Microsoft stack, and if the size of their staff changes or shifts regionally, the solution works equally well. Prices will modulate monthly based on actual staffing levels. The message I’ve been delivering to prospects and clients is that handling IT is one area of certainty.”
About Pat Cooley
Pat Cooley is the President and CEO of IT Productivity and an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working with executives to reduce the cost and complexity of IT. He is skilled in IT managed services, cybersecurity, Microsoft M365 & Azure Cloud Services, project management and coaching. Pat helps organizations Improve performance by lowering cost, increasing security, and supporting your team’s productivity through reliable IT and good old fashioned customer service.