What is Managed Services?
The new term relating to IT Support is “Managed IT Services”, or just “Managed Services”. But what does this mean?
Generally, Managed Services allows the business to allocate their IT operations to an outside source, known as a Managed Services Provider, or (MSP). Managed Service Providers assume an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring. MSP’s managing and provide problem resolutions for the network systems, and do it all for a fixed monthly fee.
It all started at “Break-Fix”
Small businesses outsourcing their IT needs to an IT service firm isn’t a new concept. It started with what is called the “break-fix” model. This is easy to understand. When the business experienced something broken on a computer or their network, they would call someone to fix it.
Some small businesses use this break-fix model but an employee within the company has the adopted roll of an IT technician and struggles through diagnosis and problem resolution wasting valuable time.
Over time, the best of the IT technicians had developed procedures to periodically come on-site to review of logs and user information looking for hints of issues before they became a big issue. In some instances, a detailed checklist was used to track system usage, traffic, etc.
There are several problems with the Break-Fix model.
Even with good technicians and their checklists, they are limited in what they can see, and thus are limited in predicting potential problems. There is a lot of guess work involved. Also, computers and networks crash a lot in this model, meaning that there are a lot of employees without the ability to work and productivity is lost along with profits.
One of the biggest problems is that the worse your system gets, the more you are paying the IT company to keep coming and fixing things. It’s like an auto mechanic. The more car problems you have, the more you must pay the mechanic. It makes it difficult to control costs and you never know how much to budget.
Managed Services as an Alternative
With the recent introduction of Managed Services, it has caused a major change in the way that many businesses deal with their technology. Instead of following the traditional way of break-fix action where you literally wait until devices fail and then rush to fix them, a business with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can consistently enjoy a stable network and stable computers.
When you hire an MSP to manage the IT side of your business, you generally are getting several things.
One is that you are getting an IT team, so you have a wide range of skills and abilities working on your system. You are also getting pro-active maintenance along with threat detection and prevention. Another huge thing you are getting is consultations about your system- someone that functions like a Chief Technology Officer for your small business.
The result of all of this is you have a team of highly skilled IT technicians servicing your system, keeping your data secure, keeping your system up and at peak performance, someone to ask questions to and easily fix little issues and avoid the big issues. And, you get all of this for less than if you hired a dedicated IT staff for your business, at a fixed monthly fee.
“Break-Fix” VS “Managed Services”
Let’s look at the two solutions side-by-side.
- Only paying for services rendered when they are rendered.
- Unpredictable computer or network performance. One computer or the entire system could go down at any moment.
- When there is a failure, you must wait until your IT support firm has the availability to help you. If your IT support is currently dealing with another emergency, then you must wait. This could result in long periods of down-time, wasting the time of your employees and draining profits.
- The more unstable your system, the more you end up paying. Costs are unpredictable from month to month.
- When the customer has problems, it takes up a lot of their time dealing with the IT support firm.
Managed Services Pro’s:
- Near elimination of risk for computer or network failure. The business will experience close to zero down-time.
- All computers and components of the system will run at peak performance.
- A team of trained IT professionals monitors and maintains your system. Pro-active measures are taken to ensure system stability when trouble is on the horizon.
- If any problems arise, it is already determined how to request service and technicians will begin working on the problem quickly.
- Outside threats to your system (such as viruses) are dramatically reduced.
- The entire system is backed up the right way. If any sort of major event were to happen, the entire system could be brought back quickly to get the company back to normal business operations.
- The cost of all of this is very predictable because it is all done for a flat monthly rate.
Managed Services Con’s:
- Theoretically, there is no down side to managed services. However, one down side could be false expectations of the consumer. When you hire an MSP, this does not mean that you will never experience network or computer issues again. With an MSP, you aren’t getting perfection. But, you are dramatically increasing the overall health of your system, your uptime, your productivity and much more.
- The cost. Some small businesses that investigate managed solutions for the first time can feel the price is high. Purchasing managed services usually isn’t cheap, but neither is on-call IT support. However, many businesses don’t realize how much they are spending on their flawed IT support. They are paying for their break-fix IT support technician, plus for lost time and inefficiency, for ill-equipped employees trying and failing to successfully manage their network, and potentially much more.
Why Break-Fix is no longer good enough for your business
It today’s business environment, businesses heavily rely on their computers, their network and being up and connected all the time. No business can really afford to have a shaky network, or be down for any period. No business can really afford to willingly expose themselves to all the new-age online criminal rings. A good business doesn’t has the time to deal with major outages, or data corruption, or data theft, or systems held together by a shoestring
Is It Time for Your Business to Make the Switch?
If your small business is currently using the break-fix model for IT support, you may want to consider making the switch to managed services. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you think about the possibilities.
- Is an employee or the business owner, either of which have no real IT credentials, managing your computers and network?
- Over the past year, did your server go down or go off-line? How many times and for how long?
- Over the past year, did any of your computers crash, become unresponsive, or have to be restarted because things were getting weird? How many times?
- Over the past year, have you had to call an IT support technician to come to your office to investigate problems? How many times?
- Are any of your employee’s wasting time by waiting for programs to load, or basically everything on the machine is running sluggish? How much time is being wasted every week or month?
- Have you ever lost business data that couldn’t be recovered? Or, did it take a long time to recover?
- How many problems are you currently just “dealing with” because you don’t want to spend the time or money to have someone look at it?
There are a lot more questions that could be asked, but that is a good list to start with. If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, then it could be a good time for your business to consider making the switch to managed services.