This month, we’re excited to shine a spotlight on: James Spencer, Owner of Spartan IT Systems
Tell us a little about Spartan and what they do?
Spartan IT Systems was started at the very beginning of the pandemic. What began as a need to keep myself working while businesses were no longer hiring IT contractors – turned into an enterprise I have become very passionate about and devoted myself to. We can manage any IT requirement a small or medium business might require. From expanding or maintaining the network infrastructure to desktop and server support. Our services and contracts are designed to remove the element of IT from your day-to-day worries and responsibilities. No more time spent trying to fix the printer or search for a new one – you just give us a call. No more time spent trying to set up a new desk and login information for a new staff member – just email us the details. No more worrying that your company data is backed up and secure in the event of a disaster – we will be watching over it. Almost any IT-related job you can think of, we can support and maintain.
Where are you based?
We are based in Ipswich but provide support to the entirety of Suffolk. Remote support or one-off projects are available further afield, but our locality is greatly responsible for our fast response times.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Spartan
I have been working in the IT sector professionally for almost 15 years. I grew up to boxes of floppy disks and the sound of dial-up modems – me and technology have grown together ever since. I have worked for multiple IT support companies and contracted for many big businesses such as Greene King and Co-Op. This has allowed me to see the gaps in service and quality many companies receive from their current IT support. As I have a direct say in how Spartan operates, I can ensure these instances are addressed straight away, ensuring the customer is informed, confident, and assured. Your business’s IT infrastructure is our only priority.
What does an average day look like for you?
An average day for me at present can vary depending on the latest government announcements on lock-downs. However, by and large, it will consist of a morning spent remotely checking backups/servers and compiling reports, including any remote desktop support required (installing printers, resolving PC issues, etc). In the afternoon, I tend to focus on all the physical jobs – site security camera installs, building or repairing hardware, quotation visits, network expansions. As our services are so inclusive, no two days are the same.
Any spare time I have that isn’t spent responding to emails is used to learn about smart and automated homes. From my blinds and curtains closing automatically when the sun sets, office and conservatory lights turning on and off based on motion and the time of day, the robovac scheduling to vacuum during the night, and being able to turn off every light in the house when I go to sleep by saying three words. The irony being that I don’t believe all the time I have saved from automating my household covers the time I have spent researching and learning about it. But at the very least, I can save many others their time.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
My motivation is simple – I get to do something I am interested in and passionate about, which I am very thankful for. Every day is a learning experience which means I am never drawn down by the monotony of repetitive tasks. While some may count sheep to drift off, I will be mentally mapping out a project I am either working on or plan to start. I will wake up to my alarm in the morning and before I have even left the bedroom, I have drawn together all the mentally scattered pieces of my plan from the night before, ready for action.
What has been your favourite project so far?
I often confuse favourite with frustrating when it comes to IT. One of the main joys of this job is resolving a particularly difficult issue. A customer will often apologise for approaching me with a task that isn’t straight forward, but unaware that I will be just as satisfied as them, if not more so, when I provide a resolution.
With this in mind – I think my favourite project so far was installing multiple security cameras on a barn situated 100 yards from the property. The challenge here was to get internet access to an outbuilding located so far from the main property and router. After a bit of experimentation and research, we overcame that hurdle. Getting that follow-up thank you email from the customer saying everything is working better than they imagined makes my day.
I would say as much as the projects themselves are the customers and companies, I get to meet. From Catteries, Kennels, and stables where I am surrounded by animals, to soap manufacturers and stately homes where I see places normally closed off from the public.
What’s the biggest challenge your customers face and how do you help them fix it?
I think the main challenge for my customers is understanding their own infrastructure and IT resources. When a computer crashes with a blue screen and a jargon error message whenever you turn it on – the customer doesn’t have the time or knowledge to know how to fix it. If their internet speed has suddenly ground to a halt, the customer might not know where to start to speed it up again. Many times, there are services and resources they have access to but never utilize to their full potential. Like subscribing to an Office 356 platform and not using the free cloud storage, or not using the built-in wi-fi performance enhancements of a router to stabilize connections.
Understanding all this and trying to operate a business can understandably be too much for many individuals. We help by not only being there to resolve any issues but also to suggest performance and efficiency solutions. All with updates, reports, and full visibility, so the business is in complete control.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I believe that many people have a certain stereotype in mind when they think of the IT guy, and I completely agree with that stereotype. By and large, we are generally reclusive and not very socially adaptive, an unfortunate cost of spending years in front of computer screens.
I was fortunate to grow up around a family of pub owners. I spent a lot of my early years working in various pubs, restaurants, and catering industries. This gave me an early education in interacting and relating to people from all warps of life. As I grew with the rise of technology, those lessons stayed with me. They allowed me to provide a service based on years of experience and allow me to sympathise and communicate with a customer effectively.