We’ve alluded to this previously, but the MSP model also provides greater resources than the break-fix approach to IT management. Below, we will take a look at three common IT support models to evaluate their benefits as well as their shortcomings, particularly as it relates to the level of expertise and overall amount of support each approach provides.
Option 1: Break-Fix Approach
Many small and midsize businesses go without an IT department. They simply don’t have enough needs to justify having a full-time IT staff on hand. In this case, the difference in expertise is obvious. A company without any specialized IT support is very likely depending on an individual or a team of individuals whose job duties are outside of the IT field. Oftentimes, they are relying on someone who is generally tech-savvy, but has no professional background in networking or server administration. Of course, if an issue comes up that does require additional support, most companies would call an IT Company to come out and fix the issue. Basically, this approach relies on things not getting “broken.” If things are broken, they call someone out to fix them. Hence the name, break-fix.
We’ve already discussed how this approach can be challenging, and why it may not be the best solution for many businesses. The vast majority of businesses that follow this approach are unlikely to be regularly updating their software, testing their data backups, and following industry best practices. While an occasional visit from an IT Professional may help prevent some problems, it’s very clear that this option provides the least amount of technical support of the three we are looking at.
Benefits: Cheapest option until something goes wrong
Drawbacks: Least amount of support provided, with nobody on call and nobody actively working to ensure future issues don’t arise; Could be costly if issues do come up
Option 2: Full-Time IT Professional
With that in mind, some companies may reach a point where it makes sense to hire a full-time IT Professional onto their staff. This is a step in the right direction as far as bringing in the proper expertise, but also presents some issues that Managed IT Services can help address.
The most obvious issue with this approach is that the IT Professional is only one person. Assuming a company doesn’t experience unprecedented growth, they aren’t likely to hire a full IT department, so most companies that go this route tend to start off by hiring one person to oversee their IT infrastructure. This person’s expertise is limited only to what they know and what they have dealt with previously. They don’t have a team of professionals supporting them. Furthermore, the business must take into consideration what happens if that individual were to leave the office, whether that’s for a vacation, a leave of absence, an illness, or if the person leaves the company altogether. By having one person on staff to oversee all aspects of the business’ IT, the business is trusting that this individual is following industry best practices, properly and thoroughly documenting all processes and procedures for future users, and that another person could come in and pick up where that individual left off if necessary.
Benefits: Expert on site; Comfortable with company infrastructure
Drawbacks: Cost-prohibitive; Continuity if employee takes time off or leaves company; Lack of oversight; Less overall expertise than a Managed IT Services model
Option 3: Managed IT Services
With the Managed IT Services model, each of these concerns can be easily addressed. But even before looking at those concerns, it’s important to note that in most cases, a Managed IT Services Agreement is much more affordable for a small or midsize business than hiring a full-time IT professional. Not only is the business then saving money, but they are also gaining access to a team of professionals, as if they had their own full-fledged IT department. This helps ensure that you receive the best support possible and that industry best practices are being followed to minimize the risk of further issues down the road. With Managed IT Services, you don’t have to worry about your “IT Guy” being out of the office or, worse, unexpectedly leaving the company. The continuity of service with Managed IT Services is a huge factor in why many businesses turn to this approach when they begin to outgrow their initial setup and need professional technical support.
Every business reaches a point where they realize they need some form of technical support. Whether it’s because they outgrow their initial infrastructure, certain hardware suddenly fails, or they simply run into issues that require a bit more technical knowledge, there are a wide variety of reasons a business may seek out help. The two primary alternatives we looked at involved taking a break-fix approach or hiring a full-time IT Professional to the staff. The break-fix approach relies on employees to take care of their own issues, or an IT professional gets called upon to resolve the issue and hope that it doesn’t happen again. While hiring a full-time IT Professional to your staff may have some appeal, there are serious advantages to the Managed IT Services model to consider. The overall level of expertise, the amount of support available, the continuity of service, and the cost savings are all benefits that should factor into your decision.
Benefits: Multiple experts who stay up-to-date with latest trends; More cost effective than hiring internal IT; More security and peace of mind than the break-fix model; Better continuity than internal IT (i.e. if you hire an IT professional who then leaves the job after a couple of years) Drawbacks: More expensive upfront than break-fix model, although generally more cost effective over time