IT Support – Best Option

IT support: what’s the best option for your business?

Michael Anderson Business Talk, IT Best Practices, IT Managed Services

IT Support – Best IT option for your business

You have lots of IT-support options these days, some of which may be better choices than others.

Generally speaking, you can break down IT support into three categories:

  1. The one-person show
  2. Pay-per-hour versus break-fix option
  3. A managed service provider solution

Which one is right for your business? We outline the pros and cons, below.

1. The One-Person Show

When we say, “lone IT provider,” we’re referring to a single person in charge of IT. In theory, it could be your office manager’s niece, an employee designated as the “IT company guru,” or outsourcing to a one-person IT company.

On the plus side of the one-person show, you develop familiarity and trust. However, you may lack prompt service, as it’s hard for one person to juggle the technology and support needs of a client – especially with how fast technology changes, and the security issues that may arise.

How do you stay up to date with new technology and standards when you are alone and can’t designate tasks to another person? By definition, the one-person show’s expertise is limited to one or two areas and relies on the spare time he or she can find to learn and develop. In comparison, an IT support team consists of people with a diverse range of skills who can collaborate together to provide clients with better support and peace of mind.

The lone IT provider is better suited to smaller environments that support one to 10 computers. Anything more, and you’re playing with fire. The main issue with the one-man show is that if this person goes on vacation, closes shop suddenly, gets hurt, or disappears, your office may shut down until you find someone new to pick up the pieces. In such cases, a single point of focus can become a single point of failure.

“Our IT person was the only one who knew our systems, now she’s gone, and we feel lost and stuck,” says the business owner who didn’t see it coming.

How do you decide if the one-person show is right for your business?

Make a list of the pros and cons, including:

  1. Are my business network and systems at risk?
  2. Are systems in place if the IT person suddenly leaves?
  3. Is this the right support for the number of computers, hardware and software running at my business?
  4. If I need better support, does my budget allow it?
  5. Does my business require more security?
  6. Does this person have the right knowledge and skills for what my business needs to stay up and running at all times?

If you have fewer than 10 computers running on your IT system, you may be OK going with the one-man show. If not, you’ll likely want to go with another option.

2. Pay-Per-Hour Versus Break-Fix Option

Hourly IT support works exactly as it sounds. You pay for each hour you require support – whether it’s hardware design, software training, network consulting, or help-desk support. If you need IT help, you pay for that help.

The “break-fix option” is also exactly as it sounds: if something breaks, you pay to fix it. There are two ways you may be charged for the break-fix option:

  1. Hourly
  2. Flat rate with extra hourly charges not covered in the contract.

Either option may be cost effective if you don’t require a lot of IT help, though you need to be realistic and mindful of your IT needs and costs. So, these options are best suited to smaller businesses with fewer than 15 computers.

According to a 2015 study by Gartner, the basic total cost of ownership for a well-managed computer is around $3,400 per year. If a network is unmanaged or poorly managed, that cost rises to about $5,800 per machine, per year. Not maintaining a network or not managing security-related issues properly adds another $2,400. That’s a lot of money you could invest elsewhere.

What do these options cost?

If your business’ technology needs grow, you’ll call more frequently and get charged for each hour. Your business’ technology and security may suffer if your budget can’t cover your growing IT needs.

Having monthly costs that vary may or may not be an issue depending on your cashflow. However, if you can get the same, or better, service from a flat-rate IT option, wouldn’t it be better to use that money to grow your business?

Getting charged hourly sometimes makes businesses want to try to fix the issues internally. This can be a security risk and can lead to greater costs if “the fixes” actually make things worse. You may be charged for every call you make, or message returned by your IT provider.

There may be no motivation to fix issues that arise quickly because your break-fix IT provider gets paid hourly and makes more money if the issue gets worse.

How do you decide if the hourly or break-fix options are right for your business?

These options may be best for your business if you encounter IT issues infrequently and have a very basic network setup with fewer than 15 computers.

To understand whether this option is for you, make a list of the pros and cons, including:

  1. Is my business’ IT network and security at risk?
  2. How much do I spend a year on IT costs? Is this option costing me more than an all-inclusive IT provider?
  3. Is my IT provider proactive? Is it maintaining our systems, so issues don’t occur? Or is it only fixing issues after they occur?
  4. Is this the right support for the number of computers, hardware and software running at my business?
3. Managed Service Provider (MSP) Solution

An all-inclusive MSP looks after your entire IT network. Whether this option is for your business depends on its size, IT complexity and budget. An all-inclusive MSP allows you to focus on your core business, rather than worrying about your network systems.

If you are a small- or medium-sized business with over 10 computers and want peace of mind about your systems, software and a predictable budget with no surprises, then this option is a good choice.

What does the all-inclusive MSP IT solution cover?

Each all-inclusive MSP’s coverage is different. Contracts can vary, including the coverage for after hours, help-desk support, onsite visits, computers, office locations, servers, phones and printers.

That’s why it’s important to understand what you are purchasing before you sign the contract. There’s no point paying for a service that only satisfies half of your needs. It’s also important to understand what’s covered in the fixed monthly cost, what isn’t, and how much you’ll be charged for it.

So, when shopping around, make sure the all-inclusive IT solution you require really is an all-inclusive fixed rate with no extra billing.

How does the all-inclusive MSP guarantee a flat rate?

To guarantee a flat rate, an all-inclusive MSP assumes you will call less. There are two ways this can work, though option two is obviously the better choice:

  1. A help desk with a delayed response: Under this system, your calls go to voicemail and the help desk gets back to you within a prescribed period of time. Part of the assumption here is that you try to fix the issue yourself first, before you turn to the help desk.
  2. A proactive maintenance strategy: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By implementing a proactive maintenance strategy, you will by definition encounter fewer IT issues, which means you’ll make fewer support calls. The moral of the story: fewer incoming calls equal faster service, and faster service means happy employees.

At 365 Technologies, we stand by our Worry-Free IT™ 365Care+ solution, which provides proactive technology management, a dedicated network administrator, professional technology consulting, and unlimited support services, so you’ll never worry about what a problem costs to fix.

You can learn more about our all-inclusive flat-rate Worry-Free IT™ solution by visiting: 365Care+

Alternatively, you can contact us at sales@365tech.ca or call 204-488-3655 for a free consultation. We believe in being upfront by providing you with the option that suits your situation now, taking into consideration your future goals.