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Living Wage Employer

Engineering solutions firm 4CornerNetworks helps boost job satisfaction by paying the living wage

Living Wage Employer

http://www.thenational.scot/business/engineering-solutions-firm-4cornernetworks-helps-boost-job-satisfaction-by-paying-the-living-wage.20926

What’s Your Problem?

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Your Pain Points when working with a Supplier of Cisco Engineers

“They” say that 98% of published statistics are made up, and people will think that when market research doesn’t provide them with the answers they anticipated. Conducting market research with a 3rd party will help to eliminate subconscious bias when asking questions and help to provide a survey format whereby respondents submit honest and detailed responses. Here at 4CornerNetworks, that’s exactly what we did when partnering with CRN Channel Web as we embarked upon a quest to understand client experiences, good and bad, when engaging with a supplier of Cisco Engineering Resources.

We Asked…

C-Level Executives, Operations & Project Managers from Telecomms, Managed Service Providers, ICT Providers and Cisco Channel Partners were asked about their experiences when utilising Cisco Engineers from a 3rd party vendor.

You Said…

  • 1/3 Were not satisfied with their external supplier of choice
  • Only 1/3 said they were happy!
  • 83% Concerned with rising costs and additional charges
  • 83% Concerned with lack of Engineering availability
  • 48% Concerned with a lack of transparency on attending Engineers certifications and experience

Engineering Availability

We asked, the channel spoke and specified that a lack of available Cisco Engineers and High Costs were the two primary concerns. 40% of C-Level Executives stated that they used more than one supplier of Cisco Engineering Resources, with 45% of those respondents doing so due to a lack of engineering availability. A lack of available Engineers will naturally occur when external partners fail to understand your everyday business requirements. Where are your clients located? When do you experience dips or peaks in client demand? How quickly can your external partner process your request? – All these questions impact on Engineering availability and all can be avoided by planning, integrating processes with your external partner and studying previous trends to ensure that you can get Cisco Engineering excellence, where you need it, when you need it.

Access to Cisco Engineering Skills

2/3 of Telecomms, MSP’s, ICT & Cisco Partners utilised the services of a 3rd party vendor to gain access to specific Cisco Engineering skills not available in-house. However only a fraction, 7% of all respondents concluded that when hiring an external Cisco Engineering partner, that costs were a benefit of any such relationship – that’s 93% of hiring companies NOT completely satisfied with the costs they are being charged.

Almost half of all respondents expressed their concerns with the experience and qualifications of attending Engineers. Often the end client provides feedback on how each Engineer performs. How long it took them to perform tasks, their customer and communications skills and their overall technical ability and expertise. If an attending Engineer takes twice as long to perform tasks due to their lack of experience or because they are not adequately qualified, then costs increase and the quality of workmanship will reflect poorly on your Brand.

Peek-A-Boo Charges

Peek-a-boo charges were the main cost concern when hiring a Cisco Field Engineer from an external partner. Upon opening your invoices, all of a sudden, peek-a-boo! Out pop charges for account set up, account maintenance, minimum booking time of 2-4 hour slots (when you only need an Engineer for 1 hour) and being charged for a CCNA, when all you got was a technical courier. Such charges make financial budgeting and forecasting almost impossible when you have no idea how much additional costs will be added to your invoice.

We Listened and…

We understood what problems your organisation faced when working with 3rd party suppliers of Cisco Engineers and what solutions will help to alleviate your pain points. More transparency, greater Cisco Engineering availability, consistent pricing and a select partner to work in tandem with your current business processes, ethos and culture.

SMART Onsite Service from 4CornerNetworks implemented by a customised Partnership Portal provides a solution to each and every pain point.

Transparent Billing

No set-up fees and no account management fees will ever be charged. We do not believe in winning new clients, then charging them for the privilege of being our client. Securing clients in a mutually beneficial long-term relationship will always be a main objective of 4CornerNetworks. Financial planning and budget control is now placed firmly back in the hands of our clients as a set monthly fee is charged by Direct Debit making forecasting easy and accurate because you know how much your bill will be every month.

Ease of Booking

S.O.S is only available to clients who outsource their requirements for Cisco Field Engineers of 500+ hours annually. You will be able to access the exclusive Partnership Portal of 4CornerNetworks where booking an Engineer when and where you need them is quick and easy to use. Simply choose the date, time and location of where you require an Engineer, provide a brief scope of work to gain instant access to Cisco Engineers where you need them, when you need them. This results in less admin time to source Engineers and less time and cost when working with an external partner.

Cisco Field Engineers Availability & Quality

Have you ever found yourself questioning the certifications and experience of an attending Engineer? Have you experienced Engineers turning up onsite late, unprepared and lacking in both customer and technical skills?

With S.O.S you will be able to view the details of Engineers, their Certifications and previous Quality Assurance scores. Therefore any Engineer you book will firstly need to satisfy your exact requirements and those of the end client.  As a result of this function, the quality standards of your organisation will be significantly boosted brining you and your clients’ complete piece of mind.

Sourcing Cisco Engineers from a 3rd party supplier has thus far caused many organisations to seek alternative solutions to their Engineering requirements. Many existing suppliers of Cisco Field Engineers have caused customers to switch suppliers in search of transparent billing and certified Engineers. Perhaps the lesson to learn is to view your clients as partners and understand that there is a direct correlation between fair pricing, quality standards and long-term relationships.

Cisco Technical Support, a speciality service offered by Cisco Support Engineers at 4CornerNetworks

A friend in need is a friend indeed

– and we’re true to all our customers, whenever they need us

We all know that you find out who your true friends are when things are going badly. When you need to ask a big favour, and you call around – or more likely these days post on social media – there are those that will drop everything and come and help, and those that will mutter something about getting back to you when they have the time.

Of course, when you’re a big company paying good money for a service contract, you can count on your partners to rush to your support at the first sign of trouble. Can’t you?

We at 4CornerNetworks certainly think so, and we are proud to provide the very best Cisco Technical Support, whether it be on-site or remote, at any time of the day and night. Indeed, our highly qualified Cisco Network Engineers are usually so involved in the projects we work on that it is they who flag up problems to our clients, not the other way around.

Cisco Technical Support from 4CornerNetworks

But the important thing is that whoever flags up a problem, we will throw ourselves into dealing with it immediately, because we know how important IT networks are, both to our clients in their respective sector and the companies which they work for – who we also regard as our clients and friends. When an issue arises which is threatening the wellbeing of one of our client businesses, our usual stipulations for booking resource of three to five days’ notice becomes meaningless: we scramble to it the instant we hear about the issue, and everyone in the organisation from myself down takes responsibility for what we have to do to fix it and meet the end clients expectations. Fortunately, our international network and flexible, shift-based approach means that we always have people ready to do the job, however remote the location.

Sadly, it appears that this is not a universal standard within our sector. Many clients come to us because they are unhappy with the treatment they have received for network services when the really needed them. Needless to say, this often comes after years of paying good money for a perfectly reasonable but unspectacular service, which means they are left all the more disappointed when managers who should be their friends and who know they are in trouble simply turn their phones off for the night or the weekend. In modern business, many firms don’t have the luxury of waiting until Monday before even starting to think of solving a serious problem.

The essence of good service in a business-to-business operation such as ours is therefore to be available when we are needed.

The knock-on effects of providing a 24/7 service, compared to not doing so, were neatly illustrated last week in this tale of two cities: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-east-coast-blizzard-20160125-story.html

Basically, when a once-in-a-decade storm dumped several feet of snow on the Eastern US, New York sent out 4,600 workers and more than 2,000 pieces of equipment, with its crews on 12 hour shifts so that half were on the streets at any time. This round-the-clock operation through the weekend ensured that most people got to work on Monday morning, kids got to school, and the city lost just 7% of its economic output for the affected period.

In Washington DC by contrast, fewer workers were sent out, and there was a less concerted effort generally to get the city up and running. The article highlights a number of reasons, such as the fact that the US capital has less snow on average and is therefore not as well prepared and resourced to deal with the issue as New York. But reading through the lines, we can see what are basically excuses. Excuses for why the city lost 25% of its economic output for three days.

Many businesses are all too familiar with excuses from their suppliers. Some corporations have a culture which seems to value excuse-making above problem-solving. This seems to be a mindset too many organisations drift into as they scale up, and that is why I have always strived to create an open and accountable culture at 4CornerNetworks. We are still small enough that either myself or our operations manager Heidi Toms will be on the end of that phone dealing with an issue for a customer, and neither of us is going to shirk responsibility or switch our phone off for the evening.

But we are growing, and that’s why I am also encouraging a culture where everyone at 4CornerNetworks, employees and contracted Cisco Engineers alike, takes responsibility for and ownership of our clients’ problems. The flip side of this is that everyone within 4CornerNetworks is treated as a professional, and paid accordingly.

Locally sourced Cisco Network Engineers represented by connecting cities

3 Reasons to outsource your requirements for Cisco Engineers

Locally sourced Cisco Network Engineers represented by connecting cities

With a market cap of $119 billion, 2014 sales of $48 billion and ranked number 12 in the world’s most valuable Brands, Cisco are the industry leaders in IT Networking equipment. The likelihood is that readers of this article will be working with or have worked with Cisco Network Systems. Therefore if your company is working with a Cisco Network System then you’ve faced the dilemma of choosing between outsourcing the need for Cisco Support or employing in-house Engineers.

As an SME, Enterprise or a non-ICT related company with a Cisco IT/Phone system, then you need to think about the level of Cisco Engineers you need to employ for your business. Whereas Managed Service Providers, Professional Services & Cisco Channel Partners need to think about the level of Cisco Engineers your clients require. Either way, outsourcing can provide your business with the specialist Cisco skills you need and at a fraction of the cost and risk of employing Cisco Engineers in-house.

1) Lower Operational Costs

In the UK Cisco Engineers command high salaries and rightfully so, they’ve studied and trained hard to achieve their status. Current 2015 average salaries for Cisco Engineers in the UK are:

CCNA    £40,500

CCNP     £47,500

CCIE       £60,000

Your Operational costs don’t end there, other costs associated with in-house Cisco Engineers are:

  • Holidays & Sickness
  • Salary benefits – Bonus, Shares, Pension, Health Care & Annual Pay Increase
  • Additional Benefits – Company Car, Petrol Allowance, Laptop, Mobile Phone
  • Maternity/Paternity Pay
  • Staff Training
  • National Insurance & Tax Contributions
  • Portion of running costs – office, furniture, equipment, admin costs & consumables
  • Cost of Employment – In-House costs or Recruitment Agency

Accumulating the additional costs of employing in-house, a CCNA salary can be well in excess of £50,000 per year or around £23 per hour. Compare this to the average hourly rate of a CCNA which is currently £18 per hour resulting in savings of 27.8% when outsourcing against employing in-house. Your wallet, your choice.

(Visit http://www.accountingservicesforbusiness.co.uk/calculators1/true-cost-of-an-employee/ to calculate the annual cost of your employees and http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/contracts/uk/ccna.do for CCNA rates)

2) Access to Skills & Knowledge

The Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices, smart cities, big data and the human fascination and dependency on technology facilitate the need for Cisco Engineers to specialise in certain tracks. You might have an in-house CCNA, or CCIE, but do they specialise in Unified Communications, Security, Wireless, VoIP, R&S and Data Centre? How many hours and years of training would be required to have access to such a varied and multi-skilled workforce in-house? How much would this cost your company?

Having access to the skills and knowledge of certified Cisco Engineers is the most significant reason to consider outsourcing your need for Cisco Support. Quality of service is often cited as a reason not to outsource, however if you focus on creating strict SLA’s and define a clear scope of work between your outsourcing partner, then you can achieve exemplary quality of service for your end customers.

3) Risk

If you outsource your Cisco Support then you simply pay for what you need and use. Replace outsourcing with employing the multitude of Cisco Engineers in-house and you’ll need to ensure you have enough work for the Engineers every day, 52 weeks of the year.

How much time and money do you think line managers and HR departments waste on frivolous staff issues? “Can I have a day off for the dentist?”, “I need to take my dog to the vet” and so on. Employees also are savvier with their knowledge of employment legislation and their rights – holidays, sick pay, pensions, maternity leave and more heavyweight issues such as unfair dismissal and equal rights. It’s not only your balance sheet at risk; it’s your Brand, reputation and credibility in your industry. Taking risks is part of business, but if you can avoid being exposed to such substantial risks then why wouldn’t you outsource.

Do you employ in-house or outsource and why? However opinionated you may be, please feel free to leave your comments.