With the emergence of the pandemic, IT systems have become the core functionality to many businesses as working-from-home becomes the new norm. Therefore, choosing the right management option for IT services shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Large companies who have big IT divisions can manage their own infrastructure in-house. But those businesses who do not have the luxury of in-house specialized skills across all facets of the IT landscape – medium sized businesses or small businesses – have two main options to consider. They are break/fix and managed services.
What are Break/Fix IT services?
This kind of approach to managing your IT involves only calling on external IT services when something in your system has broken. External services might also be called upon for any other specialized skills that don’t exist in-house, such as complex software upgrades, network performance issues, or security issues. Overall, the management of the IT infrastructure sits internally within the business.
While the business will maintain control over their IT system with this option, break/fix services are reactive rather than proactive monitoring. It might seem like a cheaper option, but it requires a level of in-house IT staff to manage your IT systems, and makes it difficult to budget IT costs because the costs will be unexpected.
When IT staff are called in to fix a problem, they will first have to assess the problem and the cost of fixing the problem may not be apparent at the time. These skills will usually be charged on a per-hour basis, but because there is no ongoing relationship, it’s difficult to tell what a fair price is. The IT staff will also not know your system very well, and so they will need to familiarize themselves with it. They will focus on fixing the problem, but they won’t assess your system to offer suggestions for improvements so you won’t run into the same issue down the track. Because there is no ongoing relationship, they might not be able to get onto the problem straight away. Downtime can severely hurt a business’ reputation, so there is a high level of risk involved with the break/fix model.
What are Managed IT Services?
This kind of service is offered by Managed Service Providers (MSP). This is where a business will outsource the management of their IT infrastructure, or parts of their infrastructure, to an MSP. Every MSP will offer different specializations with certified skills in areas like security, cloud services, telephony services, and more.
It then becomes their job to look after your IT, which they will do proactively rather than reactively. They will get to know your system well and offer suggestions for improvement. Essentially, they will become part of your team. Many also offer 24/7 monitoring and support through email, chat, or phone.
Managed services involve service level agreements. MSPs will sit with you and draw up a SLA which will outline the services included and response times, but businesses can generally alter the subscription with their MSP. For example, an MSP may only be responsible for the cloud service of a particular business, or they might only focus on security.
Many MSPs will also offer a break/fix service for those businesses that want to retain control of their IT assets. However, their managed service model gives businesses peace of mind and alleviates the burden of IT management.
The costing structure for managed services is a predictable monthly cost. Managed services also cut internal staffing costs, especially since many MSPs have specialized IT staff and have seen it all. According to CompTIA, 46% of companies that use managed IT services have cut their annual IT costs by at least 25%.
An MSP will get to know your system as they monitor it, catching many problems before they happen since they know what to look for and will implement preventive measures. MSPs are abreast of the latest technology and will update systems accordingly with the latest updates and patches. When it comes to IT security, they know how to configure systems for the most secure options. For example, they know all about supply chain attacks and what the best approach is to safeguard digital assets.
The downside to managed services is handing over control of IT, and there is a level of commitment involved as agreements can be long term. However, in exchange for this, a business can hand over the burden of IT and know they are in good hands. The major upside of managed services is having a reliable IT infrastructure as the risk of downtime is greatly reduced. This will keep customers happy and create a more reliable brand, all for a monthly fee.
The right decision around the management of your IT can make a significant impact on the efficiency of your business processes and brand. Talk to the experts at Merit Technologies to find out more about the managed IT services available to help your business with ongoing proactive support.