Short answer is because it’s cheaper than the other options. Longer answer because it’s cheaper and your IT systems are looked after by a team of professionals who do this day in and day out. Still not convinced? Let’s take an example. Company ‘A’ has 1 Small Business Server running File & Print and Exchange, 24 machines (some desktops, some laptops), 3 printers and some Blackberries.
What does company ‘A’ need to provide first class IT management for its systems and staff?
A single point of contact for all IT issues (help desk), 24*7 monitoring and alerts, vendor management, on-site hardware support, system administration (password resets, user account creation etc), change management, reporting and root cause analysis, research into new technologies that are relevant to what company ‘A’ does, Service Level Agreements, software/application support, backups, Printer Admin, Network Management, Server Management, Desktop Support, remote access, regular incident analysis, discounted hardware and software? The list goes on and on.
So what can company ‘A’ do?
Get an existing employee who’s good with computers to help out with any problems?
This will not provide you with many of the above requirements. The individual in question may be great at fixing computers at home, but have they any experience of IT in business? Imagine they spend all day trying to fix a printing issue. They may or may not get it fixed. Any time they have spent doing a job they are not trained for should have been spent doing the job they are trained and paid for. Effectively, you would be paying a non-IT professional to do the job of a professional. So what else?
Employee an IT Professional, or even a team?
Hire all the people you need to provide the service you require. How many people is that? Research shows that one IT employee is needed per 40 staff. So, you will need to employee one person to support company ‘A’. This one person is going to be busy trying to cover desktop support, helpdesk, network support, R&D, root cause analysis etc. You may think he can manage – after all he only has 24 users to look after! Maybe he can, but not when he is ill, on holiday, or needs to be looking at two incidents at the same time. He also needs to be well trained in desktop, server and network support, not forgetting the customer facing skills. As he hasn’t any backup he needs to be a senior technician, able to work on his own. An approximate salary of £40-£50k, as well as benefits, training and holiday cover. Maybe there’s an alternative?
Use an IT Company. When you have a problem pay them by the hour to come in and fix it.
The IT company will only get paid when you have problems. Does this encourage them to fix the root cause? Are they preventing problems before they occur? NO! You may find you let your IT systems degrade and when you find it impacts your business you have to pay for a quick fix. Don’t forget you’re not just paying the engineer. You are losing money as your employees can’t function at full capacity when their systems aren’t working. In fact you could be paying twice as much when you have a problem.
And for all this money you get break/fix support. What about all the things we mentioned? You really need to have proper IT management. Are you going to pay by the hour for all them as well? It’s difficult to put a price on what this is going to cost over a year, and that makes budget time rather difficult.
The Solution – Use an IT Managed Services Company.
The first thing to mention is cost. Simply by multiplying the number of servers, desktops and laptops you need supported by a fixed monthly cost you set your IT support budget for the year.
For company ‘A’ this cost would be around £10,000 per year. It’s a lot less than employing your own staff. It’s also likely to be a lot less than using Pay As You Go IT support. So what do you get for the money? You get everything mentioned at the beginning of this article:
A single point of contact for all IT issues (help desk), 24*7 monitoring and alerts, vendor management, on-site hardware support, system administration (password resets, user account creation etc), change management, reporting and root cause analysis, research into new technologies that are relevant to what company ‘A’ does, Service Level Agreements, software/application support, backups, Printer Admin, Network Management, Server Management, Desktop Support, remote access, regular incident analysis and update meetings, discounted hardware and software. So how do IT Managed Services give you so much more than the other options, while still costing less?
IT Managed Service companies are structured to become the IT department for multiple companies. With the right tools, processes, experience and software, IT support costs are reduced due to increased levels of efficiency.
IT Managed Services companies work by fixing issues as soon as they arise. In many cases even before the client has noticed. 24*7 alerting means that as soon as an issue arises the Managed Service company is aware and the problem can be resolved before it impacts your business. It also means that the issue is fixed faster, as the engineer has direct access to your systems 24 hours a day. They don’t even need to come in. They just connect to the problem device, resolve the issue and move on to the next incident.
Using an IT managed services provider also means that your IT needs are dealt with quickly, as they tend to only use engineers with extensive real-world experience. Managed service IT companies can employ the best as they know it’s the skills of these people who help protect the IT systems of their clients. Managed service IT companies want these IT Systems to work all the time, otherwise they don’t meet the stringent SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) they set. If a problem is ignored and escalated it means they have to travel to your site to resolve it. That costs them money, so it makes sense for IT managed service companies to make sure your systems work.
In most cases they will help you with strategy. This is done by monitoring and analysing the information they get from alerting systems, and the incidents raised by the users. Using this information IT managed services companies work with their clients to reduce the number of incidents raised. This saves your company, and theirs, time and money.
Of course having an IT Managed Services company on your side does not mean everything is included. If you have development work, or other new requirements then additional charges may apply, though your support budget should be fixed.