Every organization needs some sort of IT support.
No matter your industry, the business world as we know it today runs on technology – which is only becoming more and more advanced. And for those who do not live and breathe IT day-to-day, keeping up with IT changes, updates, and development is nearly impossible.
Small to medium-sized businesses have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to the type of IT support they need in order to care for their IT requirements. So the question comes down to, what is out there – and what type is best for your organization?
Managed IT Services vs. Block Hours
The most common types of business IT support are In-House Support, Managed IT Service Providers, and Block Hours support (otherwise known as Break-Fix support). For those who choose not to hire an in-house IT team, this leaves organizations with two types of outsourced support to consider – each with their own benefits, depending on how much your business relies on your IT systems being operational.
Managed IT Service Providers and Block Hours support function differently, so before jumping into a service plan, it’s important to understand the differences.
The biggest difference between Managed IT Service Providers and Block Hours support is how the IT team typically reacts to your need for support.
Managed IT Service Providers
Managed IT Service Providers can be viewed as an off-site, in-house IT team. Managed IT Service Providers use the time and resources needed to dig into your organization and understand your underlying goals, strategy, and growth plan to move your organization forward with technology. They are strategic partners who typically work near your office location to have easy access to in-house support, and have the expertise for everything; from high-level strategic decision making about your IT infrastructure to setting up the network and computers for a new office.
Managed IT Service Providers typically have teams of IT experts who are dedicated to client accounts (who we call ‘Net Admin Teams’) and are equipped to stay on top of your IT needs and to make experienced recommendations about software and applications, all tailored for your business. Patches are done on time, backups aren’t missed or forgotten, security is managed, and everything is tested on an ongoing basis. Dedicated HelpDesk teams are typically available for emergency needs and any given IT support with the submission of a ticket.
Monthly plan fees are traditionally how Managed IT Service Provider quote out services, which is based on the number of devices you have that require maintenance, back up, and support. Having a fixed cost helps to plan for IT budgeting year over year. Depending on the nature of your contract, the costs can be considerably lower than that of a break-fix model, because problems are monitored and detected early, fix support is not billed hourly, and strategic plans are made to help prevent any future errors. Not to mention, many of the software and tool costs for updates (i.e. moving to a cloud platform) are included in a managed services monthly contract, which alone can be a significant cost saving outlet.
Block Hours Support
Traditional Block Hours support functions as a team of local experts who are ready to solve your IT problems when they occur. Block Hours support is typically a reactive support model where you contact your dedicated IT team when something goes wrong or is not working as expected. Often, there are some proactive elements in place that will alert the IT support company when a problem occurs, so you don’t have to worry about it – however these are normally picked up at the time the event happens, or if overnight not responded to until the following morning, which leaves problems just waiting to be fixed, as opposed to caught before it ever occurred.
Like the name, Block Hours support is billed and paid based on hours of support needed and used by your organization – otherwise described as a “pay as you go” model. Most IT services companies who offer a break-fix model will contract a certain dollar amount per hour, often with a set hour minimum service call. You can often qualify for discounts if you purchase a block of hours in advance, and can ask them for quotes on individual projects which will vary depending on the scope of work required.
This offers a low-cost entry in IT support and access to a HelpDesk only when your team really needs it. This model can suit much smaller companies who do not rely on their IT systems being operational to run their business and who do not value the security and proactive strategy that comes with a Managed IT Service Provider. Unknown costs for “break-fix” model contracts can be a concern for organizations with un-planned IT budgets and depending on how extreme the problem, can quickly exhaust an IT budget.
What’s Best For Your Organization
If your company requires your IT systems to be up and running in order to properly serve your clients and maintain your day-to-day functions, then a Managed Service Provider may be a better choice. With a proactive mindset, a trusted Managed Service Partner’s job is to serve in your best interest while providing 24/7 IT support. Managed Service Providers help to keep costs low, problems at a minimum, and your IT updated and moving your business forward.
On the other hand, for organizations who do not rely on upgraded technology and are content with a reactive IT approach, a “pay as you go” model would make sense. These IT providers often provide 24/7 support as well through the nature of a HelpDesk.