Small Business Managed IT Services

Small Business Managed IT Services

Small Business Managed IT Services

Small Business Managed IT Services

So you’ve started up a small business or are currently running one and you want to find out if a Managed IT Service is worth it. Is it even a good idea for you? Can you afford it? Is it going to deliver what your business needs to run efficiently and grow with you? Your current model is kind-of working why should you change? What problems could you face with Managed IT? How do you chose a provider?

Well you have come to the right place to have all these questions and more answered. Together we are going to go through Managed IT Services in detail with a focus on Small Business.

Different Types of IT Services

To start off with we will have a look at the three different types of IT Services available. This is important so that you can see what you are choosing between when you start looking at Managed IT Services.

Ad Hoc IT Support

This is the most basic of IT Services. As the name suggests it is an on-demand service. You call someone in when something goes wrong. A good thing about this style of service is that you have no ongoing IT costs.

Some of the cons of this type of service are that you cannot predict and prepare for the costs because you don’t know when something is going to break. You also cannot manage the impact that this is going to have on your business while your IT is down.

Another issue with this model is continuity of support. As you will likely be going to different companies each time a problem occurs each technician has no idea what the last one did so they can essentially be starting from scratch each time – costing you a lot before they can even start fixing the problem.

This is the model that most small businesses use – especially during start-up and it can be costly

Essential IT Managed Services

This is the next step up from Ad Hoc. You have a contract in place with an IT company to provide you with basic support on an ongoing basis. You and your employees have someone they can reach out to when something goes wrong.

The IT company has a good idea of what the lay of the land is inside your IT Infrastructure as they have been here before and may have even helped set it up. The job gets done quicker and your business is back on its feet quicker.

The IT company also maintains documentation on your IT Infrastructure so that if you change providers the hand over should be rather seamless. Downside of this is that you do have some ongoing costs for this sort of support.

This should be the bare minimum for small businesses. It allows you to manage and predict your costs allowing you to budget for this cost without having the huge impacts that the Ad-Hoc Model can cause.

Premium IT Managed Services

This is the ‘bells and whistles’ IT Managed services. It operates in a similar way to Essential IT Manages Services but with a more hands on approach.

You IT support company will have a good understanding of your business and what your goals are. They are there to offer expert advice on how IT can help grow your business. They keep an eye out for upcoming problems and stop them, where possible, before they happen..

They actively manage your licenses and warranty ensuring everything is above board. Most importantly they ensure everything is up-to-date. If you have a new employee starting they will look after all the setup making sure there is no downtime waiting for IT to be setup. .

They will also ensure business continuity in worse case scenarios. This includes data backups and rebuild plans if your business is unfortunate enough to suffer a catastrophic loss such as a fire or an IT failure due to a virus..

This level of support isn’t for everyones business but as IT grows and becomes a more integral part of all businesses it may well be that this could be the best for you and end up saving you a lot of money in the long run..

For more details on each of these models please see our recent article The Three Models of IT Services.

All our information on IT services can be found here: IT Services.

Why Move From Your Current Model?

 

There are many many reasons to look at moving. Some have been touched on above but I am going to go into detail about all the reasons to move to one of the IT Managed Services

 

Security

 

Your IT company is an IT Security specialist. They can protect you from all the IT threats that damage businesses every year. In the most extreme cases security breaches force companies to close their doors. While in lesser cases it can cost you a lot of money to get everything back up and running.

 

To give you just one example Emotet Malware costs around $1 Million to clean up per incident. For further information about some different types of security threats that your IT company can protect you from please see our recent article on: The Top Viruses of 2019

 

Expert Knowledge

 

It can be a good idea to outsource to a specialist. This can save you a lot of time. At some point it just makes sense to let an expert take care of your IT. This isn’t just true for IT. It covers a lot of expert services that you engage already – things like tax accountants; delivery services; electricians.

 

It’s really important for the continuity of your business that you engage professionals when it makes sense. You need to start seeing IT in the same light that you see all of these other professionals.

 

Continuity

 

This is one of the key differences between IT Managed Services and the Ad-Hoc Model. You don’t want to have to explain how your companies IT is setup every time there is a problem.

 

You want your IT company to know what changes were made last week and what impacts they are going to have moving forward for other developments that you have planned. This just isn’t possible in the Ad-Hoc model.

 

Tailored for your Business

 

The first thing you should notice when you start talking to an IT company about Managed IT Services is all the questions that they ask you.

 

You want them to know your business intimately. They need to know exactly what your about and how you are trying to deliver that service. Once they get you they will be able to deliver you solutions that work for you.

 

If a company doesn’t start asking questions walk away. They operate on a one size fits all model which is not what Managed IT is about at all. A restaurant requires completely different IT support to a Financial Services company.

 

On Call Help

 

Your IT Company needs to be available when you need them. This is generally managed through something called a Help Desk. This is a system for your IT company to log jobs and track their work as they fix your problem.

 

This can be very reassuring for you and your staff to know that they have a IT professional ready to help whenever you need them. You will not have access to this with the Ad-Hoc Model. Like when you call a plumber – they will be with you when they have time.

 

With Managed IT you have already paid for the IT professional to be available for you.

 

Forward Planning

 

This is more part of the Premium vs. Essential. The IT company will talk with you about what your plans are for the future and discuss how they might be able to help.

 

They will know in advance that you are installing a new till system and will already be prepared to make the changes necessary. You have some new beaut copiers being delivered – they will likely have a team member on hand to ensure they are all installed and ready to go without a hitch.

 

Disaster recovery is also part of this category. The IT company should discuss worse case scenarios with you and how they plan to get you back on your feet as-soon-as-possible. This isn’t about scaring you. This is about been prepared. You get insurance for your store so you should have a disaster recovery plan for you IT.

 

Warranty & Licence Management

 

How annoying is it when you or your staff sit down to work and a software package says it is out of date and needs to be updated? This is much more time consuming when your licence for the product has expired.

 

Now you need to find the money to pay for the licence – generally followed by lengthy downloads and installs. If you were on a Managed IT Service your IT professional knew about this and had looked after it all the night before. You didn’t even notice the cost because it had already been budgeted for. Using products like Office 365 can be a sign of this as it has all of these things built in. See our article on this product if you would like some further understanding about what I mean: The Last Office Product You Will Ever Buy

Here is another great article from another source on why moving might be a good idea for you:

5 Reasons You Business Needs Managed Services – Intello 

Problems with Managed IT Services

There are some big problems with Managed IT Services. I’ll go through them with you so you can keep an eye out for the warning signs in any discussions that you have with IT professionals about Managed IT Services.

Onsite Technicians Needed

There are some problems that cannot be solved remotely. The technician will have to come into the office to solve the problem. This can be an issue for your business if the IT company providing your service has insufficient personnel – especially in your area.

If you have to wait for them to send someone to you from another location this can be costly while your business is down. Ensure you ask questions about the staff they have based in your area and expected response times if they need to come into the office.

Specific Software Knowledge

Different industries use different software. Don’t expect your IT professional to be an expert in all software. This could be an issue if you are having problems with the software that you are using.

It also isn’t essential that you IT professional know all the ins-and-outs of all the software that you use. This is something you need to consider. How much of an impact is it going to be for you if you have a problem that your IT provider cannot answer immediately.

The key here is to ensure that they are familiar with the main software that you use in your industry. If they give you blank stares you should probably look elsewhere for a company more suited to you.

Security

An offshore provider may not be familiar with the rules and regulations that affect you. This one can be a difficult one to address because you aren’t an expert either.

A question that can assist here is: how will you ensure that we are meeting our legal requirements under your country’s laws?

Also check what relationships – if any with your government’s IT security. Like Stay Smart Online – here in Australia

Limited Flexibility

IT Companies often have contracts with software providers. So they have to use a particular
suite of software.

This might not be the best fit for you so ensure you ask about what choices you have about software. You don’t want to have to change all your basic operating software once you sign on the dotted line.

How They Deal With Problems

Problems are your IT Company’s bread and butter. This is what they do for a living. When you have a problem or concern they should greet it with a smile and be happy to help – that’s
their job.

If your company is reluctant to have contact with you or are upset when you have concerns you are with the wrong company and they are likely in the wrong business.

Have a look at this great article on whether Managed IT Services are worth it:Are Managed IT Services Actually Worth It – eTech7

Another great article looking at all the stuff I have just been through:Benefits and Risks of Managed IT Services – Consolidated Technology

How to Choose Your Provider

If you do a Google search for Managed IT services you will be met with pages and pages of almost identical companies. Good luck if you can choose between them. The reason for this is Managed IT services companies are trying to cast their net as wide as they can to capture as much business as they can.

While most business have specialised to focus on what they do best Managed IT service companies have gone the other way. They have tried to be a one-size-fits all provider. This will make it super hard for you to choose. Let’s go through some ways that will help you decide.

Experience in Your Field

Do they have any other experience working in your field? Who else have the worked for? Different industries IT requirements differ greatly – so you need to ensure that they know what you will need.

If your company is reluctant to have contact with you or are upset when you have concerns you are with the wrong company and they are likely in the wrong business.

Lack of experience isn’t necessarily an automatic no but they need to be able to explain how their experience is transferrable. You are essentially interviewing them for a really important position in your company and if they can’t answer basic questions of skills transferability you need to look elsewhere.

How They Deal With Problems

I have said this already but this is key. Please have a read above but essentially they have to be keen to solve your problems. If they aren’t get out.

Above and Beyond Service

You need your Managed It Service provider to go above and beyond every time. This is what you are paying them for. Anything less than that and you should be on the Ad-Hoc service.

Signs that this is happening is when you raise issues through the Help Desk they often fix the problem and also come back with some other problem that you didn’t even realise was related. They have also fixed that as well.

Long Term Commitment To Growth & Stability

You are wanting to grow you business and your Managed IT Service provider should be able explain what they can do to help you achieve this. They need to be committed to the long haul. You don’t want to sign a one year contract with a company and for them not to be looking further into the future.

This is the sign of a great IT company. They are talking to you about your plans and where they can help – months and years after their current contract ends.

Also key here is plan to ensure the stability of your current systems. This can be towards the future but also for now. It’s no point having the best plans in the world and have instability that costs your business now.

Now you know what to ask we would really like to be put to the test. Please contact us.

If you’re looking for other services we also do website design and website maintenance.

There are some common misconceptions about Managed IT Services. This articleaddresses them fairly well:Managed Service Providers Myths – Ath0

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