This is a common question, and one we get asked a lot.
Let’s take a look at the different kinds of IT support so that pricing makes a bit more sense.
There are two fundamentally different kinds of IT support, reactive and proactive. Reactive support is based on fixing things after they have gone wrong, and proactive support is all about preventing things from going wrong as much as possible, and applying accelerated ways of carrying out fixes when needed.
We'll look at reactive or Time & Materials support first, as it’s typically the first model that comes to mind if you’ve not worked with IT support company before.
Time and Materials support
With reactive support, you call a local IT company as soon as you suffer some kind of IT problem. Assuming their engineers are not on site at another customer or otherwise engaged when you call, they will either come to your office or use a remote desktop connection product such as TeamViewer to connect to your computer and try to carry out repairs from there.
The advantage of this kind of support to the customer is that you only pay for each repair, i.e. it’s easy to link the cost to the issue itself.
However, that’s pretty much where the good news stops for this service model.
The biggest problem with reactive support is that you have to incur some kind of stoppage or downtime before repairs can begin. You also won’t necessarily know how long it’s going to take for an engineer to attend to your fault or how long it’s going to take to fix it.
If you take a look at the IT downtime calculator on our web site, you can see how quickly the cost of IT outages can mount up, and that’s before you have paid for any repairs. Suffice to say, if you combine the per hour cost of each member of staff with their loss of productivity for a given outage period, you’ll see that an IT fault can very quickly become a major financial headache.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that while you’re ringing around trying to find an engineer who can get you back up and running, you are not in a strong position to negotiate on price.
If your outage is widespread and your business is being seriously affected, you will pretty much have to pay whatever you are offered.
Now let’s review proactive support, or Managed Services as they’re commonly known.
Managed Services support
This method of delivering IT support is based on preventing faults and outages in the first place.
Managed Services Providers (MSPs) take advantage of the fact that modern computers keep an internal log of error conditions that crop up. This log and in fact the full internal state of a computer is monitored automatically, with alerts being generated for anything that might become a user affecting issue and automated fixes being applied to the vast majority of error states.
This gives an MSP a massive head start when it comes to analysing and fixing fault conditions.
The service is enabled by a tiny software agent on each supported computer that constantly updates a remote monitoring system running 24/7. So your IT support service is effectively protecting you all the time and you still benefit from the service even if it’s silly late (or stupid early!) and the tech support phone line is closed.
What are the advantages of this delivery model to you as a business owner?
As you can imagine, some pretty big ones!
Firstly and most importantly, you will have the best protection against IT outages. If an engineer needs to log into a computer, they will already have a detailed insight into what may be wrong, which leads to faster average fix times.
Again, I would invite you to calculate the true cost of IT downtime from a fixed overheads perspective as well as a loss of productivity. The price of prevention is very small in comparison.
Secondly, this service is commonly offered on a fully inclusive basis, which enables you to predict your IT support costs into the future. It’s also very granular, with charges typically being applied per computer or user so your costs will scale smoothly rather than in big lumps.
Hopefully it has become clear that reactive ‘on demand’ IT support is actually a false economy regardless of what hourly charges are applied.
Businesses that count on their IT systems to carry out their daily operations need to know that reliability is assured to the extent that it can be. Proactive, Managed Service IT support is far and away your best bet to achieve this.