Maximizing value from your support services investment

Commitment to 5 core practices will lead to peace of mind and growth

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

In the world of support services we are always striving to reach that nirvana state where everything is perfect, and that requires keeping networks running at peak performance while contending with the onslaught of new employee technologies, cloud applications and mobile solutions.

As the leader of a global support services organization, I am constantly striving to reach this stable state for our customers.  We are dedicated to harnessing the latest communications technology and processes to deliver an award-winning omnichannel support experience and  help IT managers achieve the best benefits of automation while avoiding unforeseen problems.

Here are five actions that IT departments can take to gain the most value from their communications support services coverage:

* Take full advantage of automation. Automating remote diagnostics,alarm monitoring, and issue isolation and resolutioncan reduce preventable outages dramatically. In our experience, such tools can auto-resolve 90% of alarms requiring service requests without human intervention, while lowering outage risk by nearly three-quarters. If the systems are unable to resolve a problem, they automatically forward relevant information to a technician. By taking advantage of these advanced diagnostic capabilities, your organization can equip itself for proactive prevention, rapid resolution and continual optimization of communications systems.

* Establish healthy connectivity. Realizing automation’s substantial benefits requires reliable access to remotely provided tools and services. Solid connectivity is vital to ongoing monitoring, accurate measurement and fast issue resolution. Adopting a standard remote connectivity methodology can help enhance security and enable more effective use of end-user and administrative controls, make for smoother and more reliable alarm validation and clearing functionality, and allow for more detailed logging and audit trails.

* Prevent and predict network issues onsite. User-controllable diagnostic tools can speed diagnostics while reducing costs and equipment requirements. Intelligent software agents continually collect relevant data and detect potential problems before they impact service. The tools equip system operators and their vendors to better diagnose, analyze and address incidents remotely without compromising system stability. Based on individual Avaya and customer experiences, diagnostic tools can help resolve issues up to 50% faster.

* Tackle the outage top 5. The major causes of communications outages are no surprise.The surprise comes innot knowing which one will pop up, and when. According to research, depending on the specific cause, one-third to three-quarters of reported outages could have been avoided by using industry-leading outage prevention practices:

- Power outages—regularly scheduled audits can help determine if facilities and uninterruptible power supply systems are capable of meeting power demands and ward off problems, with particular attention given to hardware that is approaching the end of manufacturer support (EoMS).

- Lack of routine maintenance—proactive health checks, disciplined system monitoring, and observed maintenance schedules can help IT departments catch the telltale signals equipment emits when a problem is approaching.

- Software bugs—a sound patching strategy and proactive approach to patching to eliminate known issues can help maintain software performance and avoid software-related outages.

- Hardware failures—proactive upgrades of equipment approaching EoMS, audits to verify system redundancy, system health checks, and failover strategies for critical systems can help reduce hardware-based outages.

- Network issues—a simple audit of the organization’s underlying network can often help identify where certain performance issues, such as jitter, delay and latency, exist. A network diagram can prove indispensable in isolating an outage, while rigorous configuration control processes can help keep system changes and refinements from inadvertently triggering outages and other problems.

* Confirm that your records are accurate. Support services providers can address issues faster if they know what systems they are dealing with and whether those solutions are up to date. If you have a disciplined process for accurately registering equipment, you can facilitate ongoing remote maintenance support, improve the accuracy of contract renewal price quotes, and help your support vendor update hardware inventory records and test device connectivity and alarming.

Achieving nirvana in the chaotic world of IT with its many moving parts, increasing productivity goals, and the ever growing world of cloud applications requires a continuous commitment to these top five practices.  But once achieved, nirvana can be sustained.  It can lead to happier customers, more productive employees who are able to focus on initiatives that will move the business forward, and for IT managers, peace and stability.

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