Things generally calm down a lot for IT firms during the run up to Christmas. People take time off to extend their Christmas breaks, and those still in the office disappear for Christmas parties and long lunch breaks.
This loss of focus from clients is no bad thing. After all, it gives the IT people a well-earned rest. However, it can sometimes mean a drop in income, especially if you still charge on an hourly or daily basis.
The answer is to use the quiet period to encourage clients to let you catch up on routine tasks that sometimes get put to one side when everyone’s overworked. A smaller office headcount can provide an opportunity to work on systems without causing too much interruption.
Here are five tasks you can suggest to your clients, both for the run up to Christmas and for the period between Christmas and New Year. Convince a few clients to let you perform some of these activities, and your December invoices could end up looking a little less lean than you expected.
You (hopefully) put plenty of effort into ensuring that your clients’ backups work consistently, but do you also do frequent restore checks?
If not, now’s a good time to suggest you simulate the recovery of some “lost” data. This needn’t just be a few files – it’s also good to check that you can restore and remount SQL databases and Exchange information. No backup should be considered “good” unless you can prove it’s restorable. Explain this to clients and they should agree to some restore tests.
The quiet seasonal period is a good time to take stock of an infrastructure and identify any shortcomings that need resolving in the year ahead. So why not suggest spending a few hours on a thorough audit? You could end up with a “to do” list that results in plenty of work to get started on next year.
All PCs eventually start to get a little quirky and flaky. If there are PCs on any of your client sites that need a bit of TLC, now is as good a time as any to restore them to their former glory. Given that users will probably be focused on hangovers and Christmas parties, they are unlikely to complain too much about a little disruption.
Sometimes is can be hard to tie clients down and get them to give them your undivided attention – their own business priorities often stand in the way.
On this basis, the quiet season can prove a good time to hold a strategy meeting, and if you’re lucky, seasonal good cheer may encourage customers to sign off on some new projects for the year ahead.
Just like the PCs we talked about above, servers can begin to creak over time. While they’re not being used as much, it’s a good idea to do some housekeeping: Get rid of temporary files and folders, and old backups that you’ve stashed away just in case.
Don’t forget about the physical side either. If a server has been up the corner of an office gathering dust all year, now is a good time to give it a well-deserved clean, so it’s ready for the year ahead.