Today we live in an advanced age of technology, where the only constant we know is change. How can you keep up with all the technological changes that occur every day? If you’re not living the life of an IT professional, it can be almost impossible. Fortunately, there are plenty of IT support options out there, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. To aid in your decision we’ve highlighted some options for you below.
Common Types of IT Support
The most common types of IT support for businesses are In-House Support, Managed Service Providers, and Block Hours support (also known as Break-Fix support). If you choose not to hire in-house technicians, you are left with two types of off-site support. Each type has it’s own benefits, but they both function differently so it is important to understand how they work. This will help you decide what type of support is best for your business. We’ll explain more about your options below, but the most important difference to note is that Managed IT Service Providers and Block Hours support teams will react to your needs differently.
Managed IT Service Providers
Managed IT Service Providers are your off-site, in-house IT team. Yes, you read that correctly. While your Managed IT Service Provider won’t be seen in your office every day, they will be taking careful time to learn everything there is to know about your business. By learning about your goals, culture, and overall needs, your Managed IT Service Provider will help you to formulate a plan to grow your business with technology. They are there to help you with anything you may need from creating a business strategy to helping set up new computers or devices in your office. It’s also a big help to have your Managed IT Service Provider nearby so they can visit your office easily to provide in-house technical support.
Typically, a Managed IT Service Provider will have a team of IT professionals assigned to client accounts who are ready to care for your IT needs and proactively recommend software that will best suit your business. Your assigned team will also make sure that any necessary patches are completed on time, backups occur regularly, security is managed and monitored, and everything is tested frequently. Your Managed IT Service Provider will also typically have a team of professionals standing by for any emergencies you may have. All you need to do is submit a service ticket online or call for help.
Curious about the cost? Traditionally, your Managed IT Service Provider will quote services with a monthly plan fee. This fee will be based on the number of devices you have that require maintenance and support. This fixed cost is helpful when it comes to your budget planning for IT each year. The proactive strategies of a Managed IT Service Provider can cost you considerably less than a Block Hours model, depending on your contract. Detecting and fixing problems early means less hours to spend on more problems in the future. Also, the costs of many software programs and tools will be included in your monthly contract – saving you time and money in the long run.
Block Hours (Break-Fix) Support
Block Hours support is traditionally a team of experts who are ready to handle your IT issues when they arise. The support model is reactive, meaning you contact your team when something goes wrong or is not working like it should. There are usually some proactive elements already in place so that some issues will be detected and sent to the IT team without you having to contact them. However, if these issues occur overnight they won’t be picked up until the following morning, meaning the problem sits unfixed rather than being caught before it happened.
Billing for Block Hours support is based on the hours of support your business uses, much like the name suggests. This can otherwise be described as a “pay as you go” support plan. Most IT companies with Block Hours support charge a certain dollar amount per hour, usually with a set minimum for a service call. There are sometimes discount options available if you purchase hours in advance, and you can ask for a quote if you have a specific project coming up.
What this plan comes down to is low-cost IT support and access to assistance in the event of a serious technical issue. Block Hours can be perfectly suitable for small companies who do not rely on IT services to do business and who do not need the strategy that a Managed IT Service Provider can provide. Unknown costs with a Block Hours model can be concerning for organizations with tight budgets, as a large problem could cost the organization their entire planned amount for IT.
What’s Best for You?
If your business needs functional and reliable IT programs to maintain everyday functions, a Managed IT Service Provider could be the right choice. A Managed Service Provider uses a proactive strategy to best serve your business and provide around-the-clock technical support. Managed Service Providers strive to keep problems from happening, your technology up-to-date, and your business driving forward all while keeping costs low.
However, if your business does not rely on the latest technology and you need more of a reactive approach, a Block Hours model may work. Often these IT providers will also provide 24/7 support online or over the phone.