Safeguarding Your Critical Systems

Sept. 13, 2021
Access to a support desk with background knowledge of your systems can be a valuable addition as your business continues to grow on their digital transformation journey.

We know that software is a major enabler in the digital transformation process. Whether you are in the early stages of your journey or are focused on continuously refining and improving your business, sometimes the solutions implemented are complex and fall outside the sphere of accountability of your existing IT or engineering teams.

Once you’ve got your digital solutions in place, you need to be confident that your critical solutions will operate as you need them, now and into the future. Unexpected system failure is an added expense that no one wants.

So, when you have multiple solutions implemented, how do you ensure you have access to the right system support when you need it? This article is going to look at why it’s so important to have a support strategy in place, and how you can reduce your risk.

Reducing risk – why you need a partnered approach
As most businesses know, the digital operations software support offering is usually provided by an integrator, rather than the software vendor themselves. It’s important to have strong relationships with your technology partners because they work closely with their products every day.

Gaining access to digital operations software support can be a challenge for businesses who don’t have the specialty skills within their own teams. It means raising a support ticket with the software vendor. We’ve often found this isn’t a smooth process though, as:

  • the software support agents are often based internationally, meaning there can be delays due to different time zones or due to sheer demand
  • the software support agent understands their product, but often they don’t understand the nuances of your operations
  • the software support agents are unlikely to understand the nuances of their solution as implemented in your business

Having access to a support desk with background knowledge of your systems can be a valuable addition during your transformation journey, and as your business continues to grow. The other big plus here is you know the level of support you'll be getting.

As I’ve mentioned, digital operations support can sometimes fall outside the scope of accountability for your IT team and your engineers, making it hard to define responsibilities.

The question to ask is whether your business has the specific digital capability to solve a problem if an integration problem arises. If not, you need to be able to rely on a support partner. 

Managing team capability with multiple solutions in place
The development, integration and deployment of your systems is just one part of your digital journey. As production increases and your business grows to accommodate this, the software solutions implemented need to be able to stand up to increased demand.

The support needed in this time are more than just IT support for manufacturing systems. A more comprehensive understanding of integration, business processes, and operations is needed.

When the success of your production runs relies on your systems working together, technical expertise from a support desk can deliver excellent value for money in the short-term, or on a longer-term basis.

A system failure is the wrong time to realize that you don’t have the internal capability to diagnose and repair the issue. A risk reduction strategy should involve planning a response to incidents, and if the capability isn’t the best it could be within your team, outsourcing can be the best solution.

In our business, Nukon Support Desk provides technical support under the ITIL framework, ensuring any issues are escalated on a priority basis, and the incident is then monitored throughout the lifecycle. Support staff work closely with each team, bringing the knowledge together from both sides.

Risk mitigation and peace of mind
Business needs continually change, and the support needed to continue operations will also change throughout your business journey. Determining how you will access critical system support throughout all stages of the life cycle should be a big consideration in your business plan.

There is no one-size-fits-all model. Make sure you speak with a company who can deliver the support you need within a suitable timeframe. They can help you identify areas of risk and work with your team to build a support strategy that you can rely on.

Levi Martins a Senior Consultant at Nukon, a SAGE Group brand. SAGE is a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about SAGE, visit its profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange.

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