IT support comes in many different flavors, but the clearest distinction between providers is their business model. In one corner is the hourly IT model, wherein service is performed one call at a time and billed by the hour with minimal IT support. In the other corner is managed IT services, which is composed of providers who offer ongoing maintenance and planning with on-call support, typically for a monthly or recurring fee.
Many businesses start out with hourly services in hopes of avoiding another monthly expense. However, choosing hourly support over managed services is a bit like going to the movies instead of investing in a Netflix subscription. It makes sense if you only watch a flick every once in a while, but if you’re a real film buff, that choice may make your life more difficult—not to mention more expensive.
Need more convincing? Here are five situations that might warrant a switch to managed services.
Hourly IT is getting too expensive
A small startup or local business only needs occasional IT assistance, so paying by the hour makes sense. As your business grows, however, you may need to adopt more sophisticated technical solutions to replace manual work and expand your customer base.
New software, devices, databases and servers can widen your reach and automate routine tasks. However, these more complicated technical solutions require significantly greater oversight than a few laptops and an internet connection. Complicated software needs configuration, training and support, while expensive devices benefit from regular upgrades that can extend their lifespan. Servers and databases also require proactive maintenance and monitoring to avoid downtime, so at a certain point, paying IT support by the hour just isn’t practical or feasible.
You need to prepare for future growth
Technology used to be a way to get from point A to point B, but now it is point B. Indeed, technological innovations are literally reshaping entire industries and permanently changing the way we do business. With new tools like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the internet of things and big data looming, positioning businesses to leverage technological change is a top priority.
Leadership teams increasingly expect CEOs to bring strategic innovation to the businesses they support, but this is a formidable task without IT support serving as backup. To further compound the issue, IT budgets are shrinking—although recent forecasts show a slight uptick in IT spending, resource reduction has been an overall trend for several years.
Through consulting and forecasting, managed IT services providers (MSPs) offer strategic planning and advice to cash-strapped CTOs at reduced costs. Their assistance can get you ready for the next wave of technology, regardless of where your industry is headed.
You want help managing your vendors
Along the same lines, shrinking IT budgets mean more work is being shifted to outside specialists and vendors. From data entry to development, vendor management now consumes a huge portion of your average IT manager’s time. This problem is further exacerbated when there’s some sort of technological breakdown; vendors will often point fingers at each other, making it difficult and time-consuming to diagnose IT issues.
With managed IT services in your court, you can offload some of this administrative heavy lifting. Managed IT support can troubleshoot the root cause of vendor failures and relay this information on your behalf. This frees up resources to focus on core competencies, as well as the innovation initiatives discussed above.
You’re planning a large integration
Whether you’re hoping to move to the cloud or configure a new server, large technical initiatives are hard to pull off without ongoing IT support. Managed IT services providers assist with these projects from the get-go, providing much-needed advice and assistance evaluating services and equipment.
MSPs can also create schedules to move data or switch services with minimal interruption to customers. If you rely on a website for ecommerce, this may helps you avoid painful revenue losses, and even if you don’t host an online store, you’ll still want to minimize downtime to keep productivity stable. MSP technicians can evaluate user traffic to identify the ideal time for an integration, and will be available for IT support both during and after the migration.
You’d like to be more proactive with your IT security
There’s a crime wave happening—not in the streets, but in the Wild West of the internet, where hackers armed with machine learning tools and botnets are raising the stakes of cybersecurity. The sheer volume of data breaches is dizzying, and experts predict that cybersecurity damages will hit $6 trillion annually by 2021.
To say that this constitutes a cybersecurity crisis might be an overstatement, but it’s certainly not a time to be conservative with your business’s online protections. High-level security techniques include routine, ongoing tasks like monitoring for breaches and upgrading software and equipment to install security patches.
However, the best armor is knowledge, as professionals who are aware of security risks are less vulnerable. MSPs can help by providing continual IT support to prevent attacks and educating staff on new dangers as they arise. Essentially, an MSP can be the Wyatt Earp to your OK Corral.
Is your business ready to make the switch to managed IT services? Contact us today for a free IT consultation. Your finances—and your future—will thank you!