As a business owner, you need to decide what level of IT support is right for you. Small businesses frequently operate under the “break-fix” model. Break-fix is exactly what it sounds like: you run your business normally until something breaks, then you pay an IT support company to fix it. Large corporations usually have an in-house IT department to take care of their computers, servers, networks and phones. Then there’s the middle ground. Managed Services offers a monthly service agreement to handle all of your IT support, but not all managed services is created equal – don’t get nickel and dimed.
When it comes to IT, there are several different options that you could explore. Each has its time and its purposes, but as companies grow and change, the model you use may need to grow and change with you. Here are the different options:
While the break-fix model appears the simplest out of the gate, it ends up costing more than you think. The ‘breaks’ cost you more because you’re stuck with unexpected hardware and software costs, and the ‘fixes’ cost you a lot more due to downtime, outages, and lost potential revenue. At some point, you’ll get tired of your CFO running into your office with a stack of bills from all of last month’s fixes. It may sound nice to avoid paying until you need it, but those unexpected nickel and dime repairs add up fast.
You’ll then probably ask yourself, why don’t I hire a full-time IT person to take care of my needs? Well, that is certainly an option, but when you take a deep look into the ROI you’ll notice a huge gap between hiring one person vs. contracting with a fully staffed company. Let’s break down the costs.
We’ll keep the math simple and say that a full-time IT person will run around $50,000 a year, starting salary. That’s $24.50 an hour, Monday through Friday at 8 hours a day. The actual cost will be a whole lot more! Your new hire will need a desk, a computer, a laptop (for remote work), maybe a gas card or car if you have more than one office, a cellphone and high-speed internet access. And they’ll also cost you vacation time, sick time, holiday pay and probably a lot of overtime. At the end of the year, you’re probably close to paying out twice their base salary. And you’re still basically operating under the break-fix scenario because that individual is not available to do everything you need 24/7.
There are several services to consider when it comes to Managed Services. Not all Managed Services will offer the same list of services in their total cost. All Managed Services will have a list of permission to play services that they use to manage your devices. A good list includes the following permission to play services:
- Remote Support
- Remote Desktop Sharing Assistance
- Onsite Support, as needed
- Help Desk Phone Support
- Office & Mobile Phone Support
- Network Administration
- BDR (Backup Disaster Recovery)
- Software & Security Updates
- SPAM control
Real Managed Services Providers won’t stop there however. There are several other very important IT needs that they will be aware of and ready to tackle for your company. Good Managed Services providers go above and beyond the basic permission to play list to include:
- Parts Replacement
- Vendor Management
- Technology Consulting
- Intrusion Prevention
- Virus, Spyware, Botnet and Phishing protection
- Dark Web Monitoring
- Staff Training
Managed Services Costs
If you’ve looked at hiring a Managed Services Provider before, you may have experienced sticker shock when they quoted you the price of their monthly service agreement, especially if it included all of the above at a flat rate. However, if you examine the benefits of a monthly agreement you’ll see that it will work well with your business plans and help take your company to the next level without unexpected costs of break-fix or the added costs of hiring a staff person.
Beware Hidden Costs
However, there’s a problem in the IT support industry today. When offering Managed Services, some people say they’ll cover everything with a ‘flat rate.’ Then, they end up sending you a bill at the end of the month for drive time, after-hours service, or parts. They may have promised you a clear-cut agreement, but then nickel and dimed you to death with a pile of invoices. Doesn’t sound much different than a break-fix arrangement at that point does it? With Managed Services you should be able to budget for a set monthly rate. As you look for a Managed Services provider make sure you ask about the things that are not included in this ‘flat-rate,’ so that you know if you’re about to be nickel and dimed or if you’re working with a quality Managed Services provider.