The sales pitches you’ve heard about managed IT services so far may not have actually explained what makes them so worthwhile—how can you tell if they’re the right choice for your business?
If you’re going to evaluate the real value of managed IT services, then you need to see past the marketing fluff. A lot of IT companies will make different claims, about how managed IT services will “revolutionize your business” or “make your profits soar”.
While these may be true in some indirect, exaggerated way, they’re not really useful ideas. Understanding the value of managed services starts with understanding what they are…
Managed IT Services 101
If you want to understand managed IT services and what makes them worthwhile, you just have to understand how they’re different when compared to the way IT support used to work.
Not too long ago, all IT support was essentially reactive. These services were either called “hourly” support, or maybe “break/fix”, but that’s a bit of an industry term.
In either case, the way these services worked was that you brought in your hardware, or called a technician to visit you on site after something went wrong. Even in the best of cases, you still had to deal with the downtime that occurred while you waited for your broken IT to get fixed.
Managed IT services address this core issue—instead of waiting for something to go wrong and then stepping in to correct it, an IT company that provides managed IT services takes on all the responsibilities of a traditional in-house IT department. This means working to prevent issues from happening in the first place.
Why Managed Services?
- Let us do the routine (read: mundane) tasks that are too important for your actual employees. Let them focus on what matters most to your business. We’ll take care of the rest.
- Stop worrying about software updates, patches and security fixes. That’s what we’re here for.
- Hate trying to make sense of multiple vendor contracts and ongoing relationships? Perfect—we’ll take care of that, too, so that everything “just works” the way it’s supposed to.
The Top 3 Advantages Offered By Managed IT Services
Eliminate IT-Based Delays
Downtime is bad for business. Whether you agree or not, it’s a fact – just a couple years ago, small businesses with up to 50 million in annual revenue reported that just a single hour of downtime cost them $8,600.
Businesses now heavily depend on their technology. That increased reliance on mission-critical applications and 24/7 access to data, make high availability a top priority for IT. Managed IT services companies will help ensure that uptime, security, power, and redundancy requirements are met.
Reduce Capital Expenses
Traditionally, IT expenses get categorized as capital expenses or CapEx. With managed services, you can move away from a CapEx model to operational expenses or OpEx model, as you are paying month by month and seeing the return right away. Your costs for these services are considered monthly operating expenses like the electric or water bill.
Keeping an IT environment running smoothly does require constant attention and the availability of highly-skilled staff. By taking advantage of managed services, you can eliminate the burden of finding and retaining talent with all of the necessary skills.
3 Potential Challenges With Managed IT Services
Regardless of how much better managed IT services are when compared to hourly IT support, they still have their own share of challenges. That’s why it’s important to understand what they are and to do what you can to overcome them as efficiently as possible.
Optimizing your managed IT services is a matter of finding the right company to work with, and making sure they’re doing their job.
Knowledge and Capability Gaps
Whereas many IT companies will promote their managed services as comprehensive, that may not always be the case. Especially when the client operates in a highly specialized industry, the IT company may not be familiar with their line of business apps.
It may come down to a single type of software or particular technical need, but it’s the difference between totally managed IT, and nearly managed IT.
As in any business relationship, a key downside to look out for is the possibility of hidden fees. Be sure to carefully look over the contract and SLA to make sure you’re aware of additional fees that may come with onsite support, support hours caps, etc.
When they’re trying to get you to sign, an IT company may say anything and everything you want to hear. Furthermore, they will likely be very easy to get a hold of. But what about after you’ve signed? How can you know for sure that they will answer the phone when you need them?
That’s why it’s smart to inquire about their response times, Help Desk models, and other support guarantees.
Are Managed IT Services Right For You?
Which type of service is right for you depends on what you need out of your technology in terms of uptime and efficiency, what your technology budget looks like, and how technology issues could potentially impact things like security and compliance.
In the end, managed IT services are valuable not because they fix your IT problems, but rather, stop the problems from occurring in the first place. A combination of expertise, experience and attentive support (like that offered by Rea) keeps your IT systems in optimal condition.
By Jeff Rapp, MSCE (Massillon office)