When businesses are looking for ways to cut costs, paying for an IT Support plan with a managed services provider may not always be the first measure that comes to mind. In fact, some businesses may be tempted to try to save money on IT by attempting to maintain their IT systems completely on their own or just having an “IT guy” whom they can reach out to when a problem or issue arises. While this may seem like the lesser expensive strategy, it may end up costing a business big time in the long run.
“One of the biggest advantages of having an IT Support plan is that it’s typically done at a fixed cost,” says Ryan Armstrong, Director of IT Support at Miles Technologies. “So you can set your budget and you don’t have to worry about hourly rates. The budget should be the same every moth or year or however often you’re paying.”
Given the sometimes random nature of issues, future IT costs are not always easy to project, so having a fixed-cost support plan can greatly help when trying to balance a budget. A solid support plan will also usually come with a customizable price where adjustments can be made based on needs such as the addition or removal of users and equipment.
Another benefit of an IT support plan with a managed services provider is that a business will be receiving support from a team rather than just one or two individuals. “You’re going to have a team of experts—and if your team needs assistance, there will be other individuals within their organization that are aware of other topics that might come up along the way,” says Armstrong. Instead of having the resources of just one individual, working with an organization gives you access to all the resources your team members have at their disposal.
Not to be overlooked is the advantage that comes along with a team or support organization’s familiarity with your IT systems. If you have a dedicated group managing your system, the IT support should be faster and more efficient. “By using someone who is aware of and responsible for your IT environment, they should know what is going on and be able to jump in there and get things done right away,” says Armstrong.
Being on a thorough IT support plan also provides a massive advantage to any business in the form of proactive services. If a company is just relying on an individual who can provide IT assistance on an “as-needed” basis, then they will only be reacting to problems after they occur instead of trying to catch them ahead of time to keep the business running smoothly. “Proactive services help plan for the future,” reports Armstrong. “They typically include things like updates, making sure your back-ups work and ensuring your hardware is not going to fail tomorrow. If these areas aren’t being monitored, then that means eventually you’re probably going have a problem that is a bigger problem than it needs to be because nothing was done along the way.”
Keeping the system running and ensuring that back-ups are functioning properly are essential for businesses in any industry to keep running smoothly. For example, an error that causes a loss of data on a primary system should be able to be quickly resolved as long as a proper back-up is maintained, but, according to Armstrong, maintaining a complete backup is not as easy as some people think. “We see this all the time with new customers who come on board and tell us their previous ‘IT guy’ was doing back-ups for them,” he says. “We would look at the back-ups, and see that they haven’t worked correctly in months. The customer had no idea.”
These proactive monitoring services will also increase your bottom line as they are interned to help you plan for the future and hopefully avoid any high un-planned costs. “The thing you see most commonly with non-plan customers is they get surprised by expenses,” reports Armstrong. “A managed service provider should be giving you an estimate—for example, ‘that server has two years in its lifetime left, so we should start thinking about we’re going to do when that comes up, what the cost will be.’ If you don’t have a support plan service, you find out that your server needs to be replaced when it’s broken. There was no time to budget for it, and suddenly you’re spending thousands of dollars that you had no idea that was coming. The same thing can happen with software licenses.”
When it comes to deciding on whom to trust with your IT needs, going with the experts is the best way to for your business. The full support plan from a Managed Services Provider—which typically comes with the aforementioned proactive services—“is where you can really get some added value for your IT dollars in terms of planning and avoiding pitfalls,” says Armstrong.