When he was a boy growing up in the 90s, Danny’s dad ran a small consulting business in town. The firm had about 18 employees working in the office, all of them connected to the same computer system. Dial-up internet was considered a luxury, and one Danny’s father did not provide his firm. The computer system mostly stored Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, along with a copious amount of scanned documents in image form tucked away in folders on hard drives and desktops. When the company ran into system-wide technical troubles, most of the time that meant a day of work was gone, as Danny’s dad would need to call in the break/fix IT representative to come examine their systems, identify the problem and fix the issue. This cost the firm both time and money, and compromised an entire day of work for all employees. Years later, Danny starts his own company, a small startup that provides investment advice to people who sign up for their service. Danny’s staff consists of 10 employees, and like his father’s consulting firm, all employees are connected to the same computer system. But unlike his father’s business, the startup company relies entirely on data stored in online systems. If those systems were to be compromised, it would not just be a day of work down the drain, it could be the entire future of the business. So Danny made room in his budget for managed IT services, which will help his company stomp out potential problems before they have a chance to materialize.
This small narrative illustrates the difference between break/fix IT services and managed IT. With break/fix, a business will wait until a problem occurs to call someone in to fix it. These services charge by the hour, and as such, have no incentive to do quick work. And since you have to call them anytime something goes wrong, they are under less pressure to make a permanent fix, since this would cut into their business. This may have been a viable option in the 90s, back before businesses stored so much data in online systems. In these days, the impact of a technical problem could be mitigated to simply losing a day of work, as we saw with Danny’s father. But in today’s business world, everything is data-dependent, so something like a cyberattack could compromise the entire business. This means relying on break/fix services just will not cut it anymore. Hiring a managed IT service is a way to ensure a system error will not collapse your entire business.
Small businesses often times have limited IT resources, which means they can quickly fall behind on monitoring of systems and making sure everything is up to date. With a managed IT service, a business pays a set monthly cost that allows for the service to remotely monitor your systems. This type of monitoring has several benefits. As I already mentioned, it allows for potential problems to be identified before they actually cause trouble. But it also takes the pressure off of the company by making sure systems are continually updated and security measures are in place, and all of this happens behind the scenes without employees of the business having to take any time away from projects they are working on in order to run IT checks or wait for faulty systems to be repaired. In addition to helping your business with security, managed IT services also take care of all of your network administration needs. These are the pesky little tasks that frustrate us all, such as creating unified communications, connecting mobile devices, backing up your data, managing storage on devices, and all of the other mundane but highly important IT tasks any business needs.
Some people may look at these two options and decide that going with a break/fix service would be the more economically viable route. In reality, this is not the case. There are a number of reasons why hiring a managed IT firm will actually save money in the long run. I already mentioned how break/fix services work on an hourly basis, so they could intentionally slow down work times to make more money. But also, if you are to wait for a problem to happen before addressing it, you will likely end up spending more money than you would have had you had a managed service on retainer to find the problem before it started causing trouble. With managed IT services, you can know exactly your IT budget for the year right from the go. With break/fix, you have to just set aside money in the budget and hope it is enough. Aside from all of this, if you wait for all of your company’s data to be compromised before finding a solution, you may have already lost too much to recover the business. Managed IT services can grow in lock-step with your company. Their services can be personalized and modified to fit the shifting nature of your business. If you start a business like Danny’s – a small startup with 10 employees – and that business grows into a company with 25-30 employees, your IT needs will also grow, and your managed IT service provider will be able to supply the added resources you need when you need them. And on top of all of this, your managed IT providers are on call in the same way a break/fix provider is, only they are not being paid by the hour so they have every incentive to make sure the work is of top quality.
Perhaps the best thing a managed IT service can provide is a peace of mind. Working with a managed IT service is not like hiring a contractor, but rather it is engaging in a partnership. Managed IT providers work as a member of your extended team, making sure everything behind the scenes is taken care of and running smoothly so you and your staff can get to the business of running your company. In today’s business world, not having a managed IT service as a member of your team could be detrimental to your company’s future, so enter into a partnership with a trusted provider and attain the inner Zen of knowing your systems are protected even when you aren’t paying attention.