27 sierpnia 2018

SLA in practice – how we guarantee the optimum maintenance for IT system

It is not easy to retain high SLA standards if you take over the maintenance of an IT system. As often happens the greatest problems arise from a wrong cooperation method. Which approach is flawed and which one is advantageous? I will discuss the issue in this article.

Third-party company to maintain the system

We often talk to companies looking for a third-party vendor to maintain their IT systems. This is hardly surprising and taking over such a system does not pose a problem for us. It’s an issue of appropriate procedures, knowledge, and skills. Problems, however, are brought about by one’s approach to such cooperation. Let’s have a closer look.

The client does not want to overpay

Often client only want their system to be handled on as needed basis. They just want somebody to take the system over and repair it in the case of a failure without bothering them. They want to delegate these tasks to a third-party company and not to overpay for the service.

At this point, they often provide the explanation that their system has operated in a stable manner for years and requires no modification. Admittedly, some failures occur from time to time but their previous vendor would remedy them in up to a dozen or so hours. Hence the client draws a simple conclusion – they only need to buy several dozen hours during a year to maintain their system and any other offer would be tantamount to pure trickery. In theory, they are right. In theory, they lower their costs…

And what about reality?

Software developers need to work with the system on a regular basis

The IT system takeover is a time-consuming process during which we need to understand the system’s structure and operation. From a source code completeness check to the system startup in a test environment, it is a demanding intellectual task. Then we can proceed to performance tests and learn the new system fully. As I have mentioned, the trouble is that the client wants us to handle the system only when something goes wrong. It is an insurmountable barrier for us.

IT systems are so complex that nobody will be able to remember how they operate having worked with them for several hours. In such a situation every single fault, minor ones included, will require much time for a software developer to locate and remedy. And what about a major malfunction? If you do not allocate an appropriate hour range, it will be impossible to maintain the system and its condition will deteriorate over time. Suffice it to say that without proper maintenance:

  • The system may not withstand growing workloads
  • Technologies will become out of date, full of errors and security gaps
  • Optimization will turn problematic – the system will slow down
  • Critical errors may appear in the code which will enable a data leak or serious failure
  • Software will cease to be compatible with new hardware

Obviously, since the system has presented no major problems so far, it would seem logical that the state will be retained over the following years of its operation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every code needs fixing because every code contains errors and every code becomes out of date. Moreover, with the technology development and advanced tools used by cybercriminals, the use of an out-of-date system may be a dreadful mistake; especially if the company’s or its clients’ sensitive data enters the system.

This is similar to a chronic disease. We may have been ill for years (system has errors in the code), without even being aware of that, because we do not go for checkups (lack of maintenance). We take an Aspirin or another medicine (responding to failure only), but that’s all. The disease is still advancing (we do not remove code errors) and we feel even worse (improper optimization).

Our proposal

Let me tell you how we look after our clients’ systems. Let’s assume we are going to handle your system now.

First of all, we will offer you our work as a monthly hour package. We will adopt an optimal number of hours as needed for your system. This will enable us to:

  • Get acquainted with its structure
  • Learn its operation
  • Find and remedy code errors
  • Update the system and its security
  • Optimize its operation
  • Perform backups
  • Fix failures promptly

Over the years we have developed procedures with which we can achieve the above-mentioned goals step by step. On our own, we:

  • Supervise the system operation
  • Detect faults
  • Know how and when to respond in case of a failure

We will not involve your people: it simply won’t be necessary. At the same time, you will have a full control of our work through a Project Manager on our side.

A Project Manager is a person who manages the team of software developers appointed to handle the system. He or she organizes work and learns the system and business environment in which it operates. He or she will submit reports to the appointed person in your company. Thus you will know exactly, month after month, what is happening to your system and what work we did in the period.

Your system will operate in a more stable manner than ever before and will also be optimized and secure. For a critical failure (e.g. hardware damage), we will recover the system instantly in a new environment as we will have ready-to-operate backups.

All of the above will be included in the monthly hour package we offer. It will provide us with continuous interaction with the code and guarantee an optimal development and maintenance of the system under our supervision. Once a client insisted and tried to force us to reduce the hour package agreed upon. In response, we discontinued our cooperation. We assessed the situation as experts and could not proceed with the collaboration because our client made it impossible for us to perform our tasks properly.

Effectiveness stems from experience

We did not know straight away how to handle third-party IT systems effectively. It took us years to develop our current procedures, while we studied diverse collaboration models and system development ideas. In my opinion, our current method is the most effective way to handle IT systems on the market. It has arisen from a wealth of experience and talks we have held both within the company and with our clients. I think its effectiveness is well confirmed by a selection of opinions from our clients who have entrusted us with their systems.

If you find this issue interesting and would like to learn more, I would love to answer your questions. Are you perhaps looking for a solution to handle the system in your company and would like to discuss it? Either way, please use the following contact form. Our consultations are free of charge and impose no commitments. Call us or send us a message and we will contact you to discuss relevant issues.