#ExplainIT – About us
Today it’s all about us!
In this podcast exclusive you’ll get a inside perspective on our journey and what we do here at activIT systems with Technical Account Manager, Matt B.
Here are the top three things you need to know:
- We not only help with ad-hoc IT fixes, but also offer service packages where we partner with you to create long-term business benefits.
- We know what it’s like to run a small business, so all of our solutions are tailored to suit the exact issues you face on the daily.
- Having offices in Perth, Western Australia and Devonport, Tasmania, means that we can offer extended support hours – so no matter where you are and what time your business opens, we’re on deck and ready to help. Sometimes we even fix issues before your team gets into the office!
Harley: Welcome to episode 4 of activIT systems’ #ExplainIT. I’m here with Matt Boardman, how are you going Matt?
Matt: Good. Yourself, Harley?
Harley: Very well thanks, very well. So today’s episode is actually going to be all about us – we’re going to be talking about our activCare packages that we have at activIT systems, and who better to ask than one of the main men of activIT?
Matt: Yeah well more than happy to talk about it, pretty much dealing with these plans and you know finding what solution is most tailored to a client is the bread and butter of my job as a Technical Account Manager out here.
Harley: Absolutely and when clients come and see you guys for the first time, the first thing I think is “who are you guys, what’s the company, and what should we know about you guys?”
Matt: Yeah well activIT systems – we started off as a one-man band years and years ago. Steve Edwards who I’m sure you guys have met in the previous weeks as the managing director and founder and all of this started as just his little venture into IT – he’s not here so I can actually talk a bit about him. He started off in web development, turns out that perhaps being colour-blind wasn’t the best trait when you’re going into web development, but he didn’t give up on it, he stuck with it, went through and over the years this has grown into a wonderful small business with 15 employees across WA through to Tasmania and we’re just here to look after businesses, take care of everything to do with their computer systems from the beginning to the end, and maybe help with a couple of website issues of course.
Harley: And speaking to Steve and yourself is you obviously were once a one-man band as a business and now you’re a team of about 15 across Perth and Tasmania, two different offices. You’ve basically lived the same life as your clients do which is small and medium enterprise businesses. How do you find your IT works as a company of two different locations?
Matt: It’s really interesting, because one of the big issues that a lot of people have is that IT workers are typically office workers – you know, you’re in the office 8:30, 9 o’clock in the morning, but a lot of our clients you know they’re tradies, they’re contractors, they’re up at the crack of dawn, so for those of them over here in WA, having extended trading hours, being able to call our Tasmanian team before the sun comes up over here in winter in Perth means that they don’t need to pay after hours rates, they don’t need to deal with pre-coffee technicians over here in Perth, they get that full service from when they get up all the way through. It does mean that our hours are extended on both sides as well – we can do lots of eastern states after-hours work while our boys are still in the office over here yeah and that’s amazing, that really helps out a team when you know that after work you can get an answer still and your team is there.
Harley: So just quickly to jump in, what philosophies have been built over that time? Obviously starting as a one-man band but now being quite a larger business, you’ve actually been the client, or in the client’s position at different stages. So what are the philosophies and values and beliefs that the kind of company has built?
Matt: Absolutely I mean really we have walked the walk, we’ve talked the talk, we know what it’s like to be a small business. You know we’re just, at least here in Perth you know, we’re really starting to see a bit of the tail end of COVID-19 as restrictions are released, touch wood, but you know we’ve been through all of that and we’ve been through you know the GFC and all of those ups and downs that other businesses have experienced. What we really wanted to make a difference with as far as the philosophy of activIT, is we really want to be that “superhero”. A lot of people just don’t want to deal with their computers. They look at computers and they see a burden, they see a cost ,and we really wanted to find a way to turn that around and manage everything from the beginning to the end. So we deal with vendors, we deal with your providers, we’ll purchase all the hardware on your behalf, you won’t see a new computer until it’s ready for you to put your password in and just start using Microsoft office or any other programs. It’s – everything is turnkey, everything is designed to be minimal for us yeah.
Harley: And what we do see is with superheroes particularly, is they kind of they can drop in ad-hoc and just help you out when you’re at your worst point, but activIT systems is a different sort of superhero. So I know that one thing that Steve and yourself have encouraged from the very start is that your IT services are constant, it’s fully managed and it’s not just an ad hoc, ‘rock up when things get bad’ sort of thing. Why is that?
Matt: Well we can definitely help with the ad hoc stuff but that’s really not where the value is. At the end of the day you know if you’re calling us to put out fires then you’re just going to have a slightly burned environment but nothing’s going to change, you’re not going to get make those improvements. The big thing about managed IT systems is that we’re there even when things are good, because as we’ve talked about in our episodes about tech debt and things like that, you know when everything is going well that may be the perfect opportunity to make changes – because things aren’t broken you aren’t going to cause a disaster, and you’re not trying to deal with another disaster while trying to make changes. Everything we do with managed IT is about making steady incremental improvements to the way of life for you, your staff, your operations, make things more profitable, make things run smoother, get more out of your day.
Harley: Yeah definitely. One thing we see with that is, a lot of small businesses and medium size even, will try to do their own IT, try manage it with one person, and even one IT person who may even be trained. Why should they be wary of this, of these ad hoc or break fix engagements?
Matt: Well what can happen is that, say you’ve got an office and you’ve got 20 staff in there and the printer jams, someone says “I tried pulling the paper out, but you know it didn’t work” so you get like the IT guy in the office to come over and he has a look and he pulls the paper out, gets it sorted and you can print again, and then Thursday comes around and the same thing happens. Now you can extend that metaphor across your entire office, everything you do and really at the end of the day, you know something’s causing that paper jam. You might not know what it is and your one IT guy might not know what it is, but someone does, someone can fix it and because we’ve got 15 people on our crew and able to reach out way beyond that if we need to, we can always find where that jam ends up and we can make things actually better. If you are engaging your IT provider and you’re purely on an ad hoc kind of basis, your inspiration, your reasoning may be to keep costs as low as possible, so as soon as that printer starts printing you’re just going to leave it. Managed IT solutions means that you have the capacity to be able to get those root causes checked out and fixed up every time, so that these you know, printer jams across your entire organisation eventually slow down and start to stop happening.
Harley: Yeah and to use that analogy is a good way of putting it. To look maybe at some other issues with the similar analogy, if someone’s got a really slow shared drive in their office, or their internet just keeps going out, these issues can really slow down business and especially internet-based business. So you could be talking to any business that needs to email or have a shared CRM online and their internet’s going out, all their shared systems are going out, it can actually completely halt a business for a day. So what does having your IT done by having a managed IT service – can you guys predict this sort of stuff before it happens, and also see where things may go wrong, and put some new put some methods in place that may stop that?
Matt: Absolutely. You know in 2020, cloud first is a big thing. Microsoft have said for all of their servers, all their products, cloud first has got to get all the latest features before on-premises, and you know products that people are familiar with like Microsoft Office Home and Business edition – at the moment we’re on the 2019 edition – Office 365, Microsoft 365 as it’s recently been rebranded. The cloud version has all the latest features that you just can’t get in some of those standalone retail versions, and you know we see that all across the industry, is that cloud first is becoming a big thing and everyone needs a great internet connection in order to leverage a lot of those services. Now if you’ve got a slow internet connection then you’re potentially missing out on a lot of productivity, a lot of collaborative efforts and tools, there’s just so much that you could be missing out on without even factoring in waiting for documents to load, or waiting for emails to open and attachments to download and things like that. Really there’s just – there’s so much you can be missing out on and you might not even be aware of the full extent of what is available to you.
Harley: Yeah definitely, and going back to what you said before about your Tasmania office – one thing that I found really interesting about you guys is when an internet outage may happen unexpectedly, if it’s happened before work, let’s say it’s happening at 6:00 am WA time, your Tasmania office that’s sitting in their office already having their morning coffee can go “hey their internet’s out” and before you’ve even come to work they’ll have an email in your inbox saying “hey, by the way your internet dropped out, we’ve already fixed it”.
Matt: Absolutely, and sometimes it even goes a step further than that. We’ve actually had times where we’ve had clients rock up to their office to unlock the door and there’s been a tech there waiting for them – it’s like “what are you doing here?” “Oh we just noticed that your server’s offline”. We’re already here to get that sorted out before you even unlock the door in the morning. Obviously you know that doesn’t need to happen a whole lot, but yeah, it’s it’s something that people are generally very thankful for when it does, rather than you know getting in, making a coffee, sitting down to start work and realising that you can’t do a whole lot, you need to make a phone call. So cutting all that out and being proactive about it, that’s a big thing that we try and do across the board.
Harley: Look how positive you’d come in after that – just like rocking up and being like “hey your first problem of the day is fixed” so especially it’s a Monday and you’re a bit grumpy, you’ve had a great weekend, just not ready for work that’d be such a great thing to come into your office to, that’d make me happy, I know that.
Matt: For sure, so absolutely as the account manager my job is keeping clients happy, and when stuff like that happens it makes my job real easy, I’ll tell you that.
Harley: Yeah awesome, I love it, I love it. So if I’m a business owner, I’m going “you know what: activIT, I’m interested, you guys sound interesting, I want to hear what your product looks like” – What are your packages, what do they look like and what sort of outlay would different size businesses need?
Matt: So we’ve got three main tiers of packages. We’ve got the essentials package; this is really designed for your small micro-businesses all the way down to sole traders. It offers your antivirus, it offers remote monitoring and management, a couple of automated systems to help keep things ticking over and you do have the ability to call us up or email us anytime and get assistance when you need it and go through that, that’s our essentials package. After that we’ve got our plus package which is more aimed for your medium businesses: you’ve got 15 or so staff, you’ve probably got a server or some kind of you know, file management system in place, and this is where you really start to get some of those proactive features where you get a service allowance every month, you get a number of hours that you can just use for whatever you like – if that printer gets jammed we can fix it, if your printer doesn’t get jammed we can come out and talk to you about what kind of options you might have to improve your workflows and processes, you can get all kinds of development documents developed and implemented to improve your IT policy. So the plus level is a really good compromise between paying for what you need, but also getting just a little bit more than what you might need to really make some of those positive changes. And then finally we’ve got our premium package, which is your all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s like having a IT tech in your office every day for a month, and it’s a great way for larger businesses or places with a real high technical requirement to be able to get absolutely everything they need out of an IT service. It’s called premium for a reason.
Harley: Awesome, and what sort of pricing do these come with, where do they start mostly? Can you give me a ballpark, or am I asking how long a piece of string is here?
Matt: Definitely a piece of string, and part of what we do is we come out and we just sit down with people and we talk about packages. But absolutely you know, your packages can start from as low as 25 bucks a month for a single person with a single computer, all the way up to you know, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars if you really want to on making sure that your 30 person office is running as smoothly as possible. Really you know, the sky is the limit on exactly what you want to do, how much you want to get out of it, and part of what we do is we assess what your requirements are and we say to you “look this is what we recommend”, and if what we recommend doesn’t end up being suitable for you then it’s part of my job as an account manager to go through and make the changes and make sure that what you’re getting is providing value to you and improving the productivity.
Harley: And that’s great, that’s what people want to hear is that the solution isn’t going to cost them an arm and a leg, let’s say or at least if they’re going to spend quite a bit on it, that what they’re going to get is quite a comprehensive package that doesn’t miss a beat, so that’d be very heartening to hear. So what sort of changes do you get, once you’ve picked up one of these packages that work for you, what’s the changes you see in your own office? Particularly thinking productivity, safety and efficiency as an office?
Matt: Yeah, well one of the things that we particularly see with our plus clients, right in the middle at that kind of that medium business tier, is that over time we start to see that these kind of repair tickets – the parts where you know the printer’s jammed, emails aren’t flowing, things like that – they get a little less frequent, and they keep getting less frequent because as we go through and we fix these problems, we fix them right. We get to the root cause and they stop popping up all over the place, and so we start to see this downward trend as the number of repair jobs over time decreases, but that’s matched by having an upward trend of having improvements taking place, where new implementations come through, they increase internet speed, they make file access better, smoother, more secure, you get remote access to enable people to work from home and work from home more smoothly and securely through pandemics and the like, so it’s really interesting to see those trends and to graph them out across multiple clients. It’s pretty consistent at this point, so it’s a tried and true strategy to get a lot of these actual improvements across the board and they’re really demonstratable.
Harley: Amazing. And just finally if you’re a company that has multiple locations, whether they’re franchised let’s say over one city, franchise over a country or international even, can you guys help still? Is there any limit to physically if they’ve partitioned offices?
Matt: No, thankfully in our industry since we can all work remotely, we can service practically anyone, anywhere. We’ve got a number of clients where we’ve never physically stepped into their office at all, there are clients in Queensland, New South Wales – I wouldn’t be able to drive there if I landed at the airport without looking at the map, I’ve never been there but we can get feet on the ground if we need them, we’ve got a wide range of contacts through the industry, and if we need someone to be there to help you set up a phone system or swap some switches and routers and other network equipment out, we can organise that, you don’t need to go looking in the white pages to find someone nearby to help you out with that, that’s all on us.
Harley: Awesome, and I guess the last thing just to cap off our chat today Matt, is what would you say to anyone that’s thinking about its managed IT services, has just seen this video on us, thinking “oh yeah, maybe activIT systems?” What would you be saying to them?
Matt: Well there’s no harm in sitting down and having a meeting with us. We can just come out, talk to you about what you might be missing out on, you might not even know. See where you want to go with your business, what direction you’re taking and how different IT systems and all kinds of improvements might be able to help and reach your goals sooner, or make sure that you do hit those goals that you have laid out for yourself. At the end of the day I’m not going to charge you a dollar until we actually get in there and really start working, so all of the advice all of the consulting at the start there to see what is possible, more than happy to come out and do that, so feel free to give us a call and book a time.
Harley: Awesome and just to clarify, that first consultation is free?
Harley: Well thank you very much Matt. For anyone looking for more information, head to aitsys.com.au, head to the website to book an appointment, just get in touch for an email chat or you can even get in touch to book in that free consultation and see if we can partner with you. That’s another episode of activIT systems ExplainIT, thanks Matt, great to have you again.
Matt: Cheers Harley