Questions you should ask a Managed Services Provider

We recognise that it is a mammoth task to choose a managed services provider (MSP). Your customers trust you with their information, and you do not want to violate that trust by selecting the wrong partner. You are stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place. On the one hand, you have staff with technical problems you cannot solve, and on the other, a myriad of providers – all seemingly providing the same service.

Want to have a chat? Call one of our kaimahi (staff) today to talk through your unique circumstances

How long have you been around?

Ask them how long they have been in business. While technology moves fast, a company that has been around for a while will have seen a variety of issues, and some of them over and over again. Not to mention, it will probably be less likely they will disappear into the night if they have already been around for a while.

Who are your customers?

It is not necessary for your MSP to know everything about your company or industry, but if they have other customers that are similar, some of your everyday issues might already be solved. For example, they may know about custom software or even hardware that is unique to your industry; and how it integrates with common services.

How big is your team, who are your technical partners?

The advantage of an MSP versus an in-house IT team is the vast wealth of experience and diversity of thought you can access. They may have multiple layers of escalation with increasing levels of knowledge, or they may be part of a vast global network of industry professionals.

Do you have a “Service Level Agreement” (SLA)?

Make sure you understand what to expect from your relationship. If there is an agreed level of care, how do you ensure it is adhered to? You do not want to have to audit every invoice; establish a reporting structure and format and stick to it. Create internal processes that make it easy for your staff to report on their experiences.

What kind of support do you offer?

In this day and age, remote support should be a given with any MSP. You should also see if the MSP you are considering has on the ground support for your team. Sometimes you need help immediately, or the internet might be down! You don’t want to have to wait for a third-party contractor to get up to speed.

Do you want to know how PCTronix will answer these questions? Give us a call, we’ll be more than happy to discuss these, and more!

Are you remote-first?

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken the world by surprise and has caused many companies globally to shift to remote working. In fact, many are predicting that employees may not want to return to the office once the closures are lifted.

Some tech products are offering their tools for free, perhaps after using them in a crisis, you’ll continue to purchase their services.

Here in Aotearoa, even though we’ve done very well, we can’t fall behind when it comes to remote-working!

As a business owner, you may already be considering mandatory work-from-home policies. You may be worried about the infrastructure requirements and how to best support your staff in this stressful time.

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that you make the transition to remote working as pain-free as possible.


If you are used to being across the room from your team, communicating while remote can be a challenge. Managing a team remotely needs to be planned explicitly, for example, ad-hoc meetings are non-existent when you can’t yell across the room!

Tools such as Skype, Zoom, Slack and Teams make these casual interactions easier and can be set up to resemble the organisation of your teams to encourage widespread usage.


Being consistent in what you expect from all staff means that they can devote their energy into the things that matter. Writing the expectations down makes it easier for everyone to coordinate the way that they work together.


Having a remote-first policy often means more autonomy for your team as well as a more collaborative approach to the tasks at hand. The distributed nature of your staff means that you are less likely (and may even be unable) to micro-manage.


Is your infrastructure ready to be remote-first? Do you have an onsite server that needs to be accessed? Are your emails cloud-based? Are your files? Does your staff have reliable devices which they can use at home?

This last point is the easiest to fix. While you are planning your staff remote morning-tea, let us take care of the technical details for you.

Give us a call today and let’s have a chat about how we can help your organisation be Covid-19 ready.

Cloud Computing…Just what does it mean?

You might have heard the phrase cloud computing thrown around a lot recently. You might have heard it from your suppliers or even some of your customers. It seems like everyone is shifting to the cloud these days… but just what does that mean?

Basically, cloud computing is computing based on the internet. Previously, companies would run programs locally on their own computer, or from a server in their building. Now cloud computing allows access to the same types of programs through the internet.

The most common tool that everyone has moved to the cloud is email. Just a few years ago, email was something that your Internet Service Provider gave you, and you had to put the settings into your own computer or on your office server. When you did that, the emails physically lived on your computer, normally in a program such as Outlook or Apple Mail. Nowadays, you can use a service like Gmail or Outlook.com and all the emails are somewhere in the cloud.

Most small to medium businesses are now moving all their communications infrastructure to the cloud. For example, Microsoft’s Office 365 not only hosts your business email, but it will also host shared calendars, your organisational contacts (synchronised with whatever mobile device you have) and can even have websites; both public-facing and internally based intranets.

By moving your onsite infrastructure to the cloud, you reduce the risk of downtime and increase accessibility and reliability. Cloud-based providers are providing their services for millions of customers worldwide, and have very little downtime. Especially compared to the server you have in the basement of your office that hasn’t been upgraded in a while!

Are you cloud computing ready?

There are some things you should consider before making the leap into the cloud.


Yes there are security concerns, but they are probably different from the ones you are thinking about. Even though you think being in the cloud means you are vulnerable to random attacks, actually the servers that cloud-based infrastructure is based on is more secure than your server in the basement could ever be. However, if you don’t have a good onboarding/offboarding process for staff, you could be in a world of trouble from ex-employees still having access to all your data.


Cloud changes quickly, some providers don’t even warn you before they change things. You need to have a company culture of adaptability and nimbleness and a willingness to keep up with the pace of change.


Compliance can be a big issue depending on which industry you are in. If you were already compliant in-house, though, it shouldn’t be any more onerous in the cloud.


The cost savings is often a reason touted around when discussing cloud-based solutions. However, your company accounts structure has to be ready for different cost models. Cloud expenses are often operational costs instead of upfront capital costs. Traditionally, companies have a hardware refresh policy that cycles through every 3-5 years depending on the bottom line. You may not have the luxury of putting it off if you are in the cloud.


You do lose some of the control over changes. While most cloud providers allow you to delay the propagation of changes, this is often just for a while rather than indefinitely.


The main advantage of most cloud-based software is the flexible nature of access. By incorporating a robust BYOD (Bring your own device) or by offering all your staff mobile devices you will maximise the access to company data while increasing your staff productivity.

Talk to us

If you are still hosting your infrastructure yourself, talk to one of our technicians today. We might be able to update your office, all at the fraction of the cost of upgrading all the hardware.

5 Signs that show you need a Managed Services Provider

Your in-house ICT team has always been there. Lately, there’s just been a few signs that it’s time for a change. Here are some typical situations that can give you a bit of a clue:

Things take too long

In today’s business world, time is precious. It might be your greatest asset. Are there just some things that aren’t quite right with your ICT, and they seem to stick around? You’re not sure that the latest “let’s try this” fix will do it.

Confidence in your infrastructure

You have outages that seem to be random, and no one can tell you what has happened. A managed services provider will have monitoring and diagnostic tools. There should be no mystery in an ICT infrastructure. If you and your team can’t rely on your infrastructure working, that makes planning your business strategy just that much harder.

Grumpy People

Have you overheard murmurings at the water cooler? Is your team grumbling about ICT issues but nothing ever gets fixed? An unhappy workforce will be an unproductive one. If they can’t rely on their tools, they might just move on.

Growing too big

When you get too big for your in-house ICT to be part of someone’s job. Having an external managed services provider will ensure you have enterprise-level support at a fraction of a full-time salary.

Exploding costs

If you’re unsure about all the bills coming out of ICT. Or perhaps you have an ad-hoc arrangement with a company, and the bills don’t have any consistency. Your infrastructure costs should be constant. A professional managed services company will have pricing structures or even a fixed monthly bill.

Ready to take control?

Have you seen some of these signs in your business? Call us today and get control back.

Why you should adopt a hybrid ICT infrastructure?

If you are unsure about jumping onto to the cloud, you can choose to implement a hybrid ICT infrastructure; one that combines cloud-based systems with some on-premise technologies. This means that you can have some of the benefits of cloud, such as, flexibility, scalability and reduced ICT costs, without having to commit your entire infrastructure.

Get your in-house systems ready for hybrid ICT infrastructure

To get the full benefits of a hybrid ICT infrastructure, your on-premise systems have to be up to date and well managed. This not only means updating your anti-virus! It can mean having to purchase the newest versions of certain key software, or to upgrade your hardware.

Understand your infrastructure requirements

Implementing a cloud solution isn’t as simply as merely choosing a provider. A great partner will work with you to understand which bits need to be cloud-based and which bits don’t. Some applications might need the speed of being on-premise, and others might need the accessibility of being in the cloud.

Know your technology requirements

You can’t improve on a system that you don’t understand. For most SME to get the most out of a hybrid ICT infrastructure, you should have full visibility on all your technology… this includes servers, processes and applications, both on your physical devices, and already in the cloud.

Make cloud and on-premise work together

The ability to use cloud and on-premise systems together is both a challenge and an exciting possibility for most SME. If you do it right, you will get the most out of both platforms and increase the ability to take on new technology initiatives quickly.

Create your future-proof ICT infrastructure

As new technologies come onto the scene, as an SME, you need to be ready. With an agile and flexible infrastructure, you can reduce the complexity of these technologies and increase your ability to use them

Still unsure?

Talk to one of our team today. They can work with you to work out the best way forward.

Gone Phishing

In May 2017, the WannaCry / WannaCrypt Ransomware attack spread like wildfire through the world. If you weren’t sure of some of the details, here is an excellent write-up by Troy Hunt. In fact, if you are unsure about what ransomware is, he has created a free online video course which teaches you all about ransomware in about an hour. What is clear from all the post-mortem reports about WannaCry is that the software exploited an old vulnerability in unpatched machines. What isn’t clear, is how that malware got through the firewalls in the first place. While there has been much speculation, we felt that it was probably a good time to explain the idea of phishing.

Often, if the technical systems are well secured, the only way an attacker can gain entry is via social engineering. One of the most common ways that this happens is through what is called a phishing scam.

Simply put, a phishing scam is when an attacker goes “fishing” for information by pretending to be something that they are not. The most common kinds usually involve an email from what looks like a trusted source.

The email will have official logos and may contain a message that you expect to hear from that source.

For example, this one that NZ Post has posted on their website alerts you, the “valued Customer” of a delivery pending.

But wait, I hear you ask if they look so good, how can I tell if they are a scam?

Things to look out for

  • Unexpected contact – The example above from NZ Post is an excellent example of this. Thinking about all the packages you have sent, do you ever put the recipient’s email address? Or isn’t what normally happens that the sender has to send tracking links.
  • Bad spelling or grammar – Often the scam emails are written poorly, have bad spelling or common grammatical mistakes.
  • Dodgy URLs – putting your mouse pointer over a link will show you where the link is going to, without clicking on it. Read the URL carefully; it may be a slight misspelling of a correct URL or have the full stop in a slightly different place. For example, if the NZPost scam above could use the URL nzpost.malicious.com.
  • Wants you to take immediate action – The scam email will often try to suggest that immediate action needs to occur. The NZ Post scam above indicates that there is a package on its way and you need to track it now. A typical example is where they tell you that your account has been locked, or even ironically, that there has been fraudulent activity, and that you need to click on the link immediately.
  • Suspicious attachments – Most legitimate organisations avoid attaching things to emails, and if they do, it will usually be from a direct request (e.g. you are downloading an invoice, or you have asked for a file)

What happens if I’ve clicked?

If you think your machine has been compromised, immediately take it off the network (unplug it from the router, or the network), and shut it down. If you have an ICT provider, contact them immediately with exactly what you think it is. If you have many machines on your network then you will need to ascertain how far the damage has spread. You will need to do a complete scan of your computer, or perhaps of all the machines on your network. If you are unsure at this stage, it will be better to call in a professional. You should also ascertain when the last time you successfully backed up your data. The WannaCrypt attack worked by encrypting (locking) all the files on an infected machine, and they did not unlock it unless you paid a monetary ransom. If you had a backup of the data from before the infection, an expert will be able to restore the backup.

How do I protect myself?

Apart from being suspicious of all unsolicited emails, there are a variety of things you can do to ensure you remain protected.

  • Always keep your computer up to date. If there is an automated system for updating (for example Windows Update), then use it to keep your system always up to date.
  • Use a password locker. One of the most common scams is to phish for your password. If you use the same password for everything, then when you are compromised, you will need to change the password on everything. There might even be sites you have forgotten about. Using a password locker will mean that you can easily generate new passwords whenever you need another password, and all your passwords will be random and different.
  • Have an up to date anti-virus software. Most modern devices will come with something for free. For example, Windows Defender is a perfectly good piece of software to use.

Call the experts

We understand that this is very complicated. If you are a small to medium enterprise, we can take a lot of this mental load on. Our remote management software alerts us when a machine is not up to date, and if something is compromised. We also do a full cloud backup service where we can restore data for you at any time. Talk to us today.