In this day and age, almost all businesses rely on computer technology and many now rely on technologies like cloud computing. Think of how much simpler things like cloud storage make sharing files with an entire organization.
All of the benefits that come from computer technologies also come with a list of drawbacks; i.e.: skill set and the cost of that skill set are at the top of the list. With so many technology choices, layered with the need to protect your data, many times you can’t rely on your own knowhow to diagnose computer problems, for one. That means you must rely on the in-house expertise of your technology department or third-party service providers.
These third-party service providers usually work under either a break-fix model or managed IT services model. If your computer needs have grown complex enough to need external service providers, which should model should you choose?
Keep reading and we’ll cover what each model is, as well as its pros and cons.
What Are Break-Fix Services?
First off there’s the old break fix model and then the new model.
The old model approach works a lot like an auto garage. You identify a need or problem and hire someone on a one-time basis to fix it.
Specifically, let’s say that you buy several new computers for your business. You discover that you can’t get them to connect to your wireless network.
This might be a problem with the settings on the computers, network configuration, or the network hardware. For example, your network switch might only support a certain number of connections.
If a little basic internet research doesn’t provide a solution, you’ll likely call a computer repair service. They’ll send out a technician who will make repairs and/or recommend new hardware that will fix the problem.
You get an invoice in the mail for the service call. These usually include an hourly fee for the technician, along with a fee for any new hardware they provide. That’s the end of the relationship between you and the service provider.
The break-fix model does offer a couple of advantages. It’s a good model for things you expect will only be one-time problems, like configuring settings on new hardware.
It can also prove a cost-saver for businesses with simple IT needs. For example, if your primary IT needs involve website hosting and keeping your computers online, it’s unlikely you’ll face a lot of complicated IT problems. Paying out only when you need service can, potentially, save you some money.
This model does come with its fair share of pitfalls, though. It can potentially cost you a lot more if you run a more complex IT system that faces regular problems.
For example, say you keep a real-time inventory system connected to a store on your website. Let’s also say that you use third-party shippers, but you store customer data in-house.
A vast number of things can go wrong in a system like that. It could take a technician a long time to track down the problem and you’re paying out by the hour.
It also ignores any kind of prevention. The technician doesn’t tell you how to avoid the problem, only fixes them. So, even if they think something might go wrong soon, they won’t necessarily tell you.
You must also deal with the downtime that comes with IT problems. A technician with no experience on your particular system will take longer to fix it than someone who knows it well.
What are Managed IT Services?
The newer model; The managed IT service model takes a different approach.
Managed service providers focus on early detection and prevention. They can also provide round-the-clock monitoring of your network. They also make a habit of installing important security updates as they become available.
You generally get access to a helpline or on-site assistance as needed. You also get the use of experts that you might not otherwise get. You may arrive at the office to find a tech waiting with a part, ready to install it and get the equipment up working again. The monitoring had detected a faulty problem, opened a ticket, notified a representative and dispatched all while your company was home for the evening.
Most managed service businesses will offer a range of packages or custom service bundles that suit different businesses. For example, a small accounting firm won’t need all the bells and whistles of enterprise-level IT support. An enterprise-level business, however, will likely need everything from cloud computing support to data backups and security.
Managed IT services also come with pros and cons, although it’s mostly pros. Expert assistance comes in right at the top of that list.
For example, the IT security industry is short on experts at the moment. That means they come with a hefty salary. While you might not have a budget for keeping one on staff, managed service companies will find the money.
You also get all the advantages of detection and preventative services and network monitoring. Managed services work to address problems before they GROW into a full-blown crisis.
Another option is rather than wondering how much computer repairs will run you, you pay a fixed rate each month.
One thing some businesses see as a con is the contract most managed service providers require. A contract commits you to that service provider for at least a year or two, whether you like the service or not.
As a general rule, though, the contract benefits you as much as it benefits the company. The contract specifies what the company must do, when, and typically includes clauses for what happens if they fail.
Some businesses also worry that using managed service providers means losing control over their network or data. There is a small swath of truth to that concern, but no more so than using a one-off computer repair service. In both cases, you must give a third-party wholesale access to your system.
Choosing Between Break-Fix and Managed IT Services
Choosing between a break-fix service and a managed IT service depends a lot on your business and criticality for performance.
If you run a simple system with a limited amount of sensitive data on it, break-fix providers can make sense. Simpler systems suffer fewer problems, on the whole, and need less care.
If you run a complex system that integrates on-site software, cloud services, and third-party providers, managed services make more sense. You’re dealing with far more potential problems and ways for hackers to damage your system.
When looking for a break fix solution, look for a company that can offer flexible options. It’s important to have that truck roll when you call or have that staff diagnosing problems before an outage occurs.
CCSI specializes in managed IT services with flexible options for our customers in the greater New York area. We’ve been doing break/fix / Managed IT since 1974.
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Author Bio: Larry Bianculli is managing director of enterprise and commercial sales at CCSI. He has 20 plus years experience in the IT Industry helping clients optimize their IT environment while aligning with business objectives. He is a cyber security consultant and holds a CCIE and CISSP. He has a vast experience in many verticals including Financial, Public Sector, Health Care, Service Provider and Commercial accounts. He has helped customers and lead teams with a balanced approach to strategy & planning, execution, and personal principles.