It’s hard to have a cogent conversation about an IT topic when you’re not sure what the term means, so we’d like to demystify some of the more common IT terms that small business owners and managers need to know in order to make informed decisions about their companies’ computing needs.
One of the most important decisions facing your business is selecting the right IT support and consulting partner. We talked about the key differences between the two primary types of IT support models in a blog post earlier this year – fixed-cost IT service vs. hourly IT service.
But what are the key factors you should look at when searching for a fixed-cost IT support firm? Every IT support firm structures their service differently, and understanding those differences is the key to choosing the right partner for your business.
What is the best way for your business to provide IT support for its employees, manage its IT assets and vendors, and plan for the future?
The two most common choices are to either hire an IT employee, or partner with another firm to provide you with IT support and consulting services.
Let’s look at the differences between these IT support options so you can decide which is best for your company.
In our last article we covered why outsourcing your company’s IT to an external service provider is a smart business move. This article discusses how to shop for the right managed fixed-cost IT services provider that will serve your business best.
One of the key distinctions to consider is the size of the IT service provider. It is important that your IT service partner has sufficient personnel and processes to keep up with your service requests. Their personnel also need to have the specific technical expertise that you need in order to solve problems in a timely manner to minimize downtime and to also be able to recommend and implement new solutions correctly.
Different IT Support Models
There are two primary IT support models for small businesses: hourly fee support, and fixed-cost support.
IT services for the SMB community have traditionally been provided through the hourly fee model (also known as “time and material support” and “on demand support”.) These are typically reactive services provided by a solo practitioner or small IT provider who can only handle a few support requests at a time, and usually works with other solo practitioners or “mom-and-pop” businesses that have relatively simple needs; these IT providers may also have limits on the types of industries or fields they can support.
Businesses with more complex needs, and typically those with more than 10 computers, are usually better suited to engage with a fixed-cost IT support partner that specializes in pro-active IT support plans, along with a full staff of IT experts, and a wealth of technical capabilities along with mature business processes. These firms are in a position to offer system monitoring, maintenance, cloud-based services, IT consulting, and more at a flat rate.
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