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Managed IT Support (also known as Managed Services or Outsourced IT Support) is the practice of outsourcing day-to-day IT management and support responsibilities as a strategic method for improving your business operations.
Managed IT Support is a proactive approach to handling your IT needs. Managed Services can range from a small portion of a business’s IT needs such as managing the security / firewall to complete outsourcing of all IT to make sure your employees are efficient and not interrupted by IT problems. In short, a Managed IT Support company takes responsibility for your IT services for a fixed fee.
There are two basic areas of distinction:
The support approach of proactive vs. reactive: In a reactive model, many companies setup their systems, get them to a functional state and then leave them alone until a crisis occurs. They tend to avoid their IT technology until there is a major issue and business operations are impacted. Then, when there is a crisis, they call in help. The help then charges an hourly rate to work on the problem. A proactive approach is about consistently doing the things that help keep systems performing well. Routine maintenance, patches, updates and system work are performed to keep things in shape. Systems are monitored and when resources or problems start indicating a problem it is reported prior to a major event and service is dispatched to address the concern before it impedes the business.
Financial Alignment: In the reactive model, the vendor makes their money when you are in crisis. They are really happy when there is a problem. They feed when you bleed. If there were no problems they would go out of business. Their focus is on recovering from issues not avoiding them. In short, they gain when you are in pain.
Managed IT Support is different because there should be a performance guarantee. That way the Service Provider loses money (just like you do) when there is a significant IT problem. Managed IT Support focuses on avoidance of problems vs. recovery from problems.
Some Managed IT Support agreements are month-to-month, while others are multi-year commitments. It all depends on what is involved with the setup process and cost of service. Some will have a very high startup cost, and then a lower long-term cost. Others spread out the startup costs across a longer period to mitigate the overall monthly cost.
Many businesses rely on IT technology, but technology support and networking is not their core business focus. In that case, you need to ask yourself if spending time away from your core business is really cost-effective.
You can go the “wait until it breaks” route, but you need to understand what lower performance and reliability is really costing your company in lost productivity and lost opportunity costs. This is even more evident when your IT infrastructure is more ‘ad-hoc’ and has grown organically rather than being professionally designed and maintained.
If you relate to 4 or more of these categories, you can benefit from outsourcing via a Managed Services approach:
You control the IT costs by virtue of your pain threshold. You only pay when the pain is unbearable.
You have no real financial commitment.