Warning – I am going to get a bit ridiculous in this post, and you may feel I am stating the obvious but please stay with me – it will help you out when choosing the right type of IT support – or maybe even help you in other areas of decision making, too.
When approached by small business owners, we often hear questions such as “How much would it cost me to have IT Support“, or “We are just calling companies for a lowest price on tech support“. “If you are not the cheapest, we need to find someone who is“. While desire to be on budget is understandable, this is not the most effective approach. It is like asking “how much does a car cost?” without considering all the variables. Actually, comparing IT services to a car is not the best analogy, because people tend to think of “luxury” support vs. “standard” support and want to make sure they are not overspending on a Cadillac when they just need a standard, dependable sedan to get them from point A to point B.
I have seen this car analogy in IT world so many times, I feel a need to correct it.
It is best to think of your business that needs tools. Lets imagine a construction business, that needs construction tools. If you dig holes for a living, you may be interested in a tool for digging holes – such as a shovel.
Let me set you up here for the buying tips. Take a look at the gallery below: each picture has a shovel in it, right?
So… How Much is a Shovel?
Of course you are probably laughing now at the ridiculousness of this example, and of course you would not just call places and start asking “how much is a shovel” if you want to buy one?
Most likely, you would probably do your research on the extent of your needs, and qualified places that have the right equipment.
You would be surprised how often people do not think of that when calling IT support companies. People call and say “I have 2 servers and 10 computers, and some phones, how much would you charge for IT support”? It’s like saying “I have a few holes to dig, and rocks to move around, so how much is a shovel and some tools?”
So, let me continue with my ridiculousness: lets dig a few holes!
Of course, you would consider the type of a job before thinking about cost. Before scoping the right equipment for the hole-digging job, you will consider the size of holes, the state of the ground or rock in it. A few holes in a quarry are not the same as a few holes in the garden. You need the right tool for the right job. You need to get all the information on the job site, get survey info, get permits, make sure your “shovel” needs gas, oil, licensed operators, regular service etc. So the cost of one project may not be the same as the cost of others. You may only need a mini excavator for a small backyard job, or you may need a fleet of giants for a huge quarry project. As you can see, even tools of seemingly the same class – such as “excavators” – cannot be compared.
OK, enough with the obvious, you get the picture… moving on to IT technology for your business.
7 things to consider when deciding which model of IT service is right for your business?
There are several IT support models, including “break/fix”, “ala-carte”, and Managed Services among most popular choices.Take these factors into consideration, before deciding which IT support model is best for your small or medium size business.
1. Consider importance of your business technology to your business processes
If your printer stopped working, or your network service is interrupted, how will it affect your business? Answer to this question will determine many variables in your IT support package. You may be in position to wait a few hours for a “break/fix” support, or you may be loosing business every minute your system is down. You may need a specific type of backup and disaster recover plan, emergency response services, fail over plans, etc. Once you determine where the technology falls on the scale of importance to your business, it would be easier to make decisions about the extent of support that your IT needs.
2. Consider the real cost of technology
Most other small business owners focus on the cost of purchase. There are capital costs such as new hardware (computers, phones, tablets and servers, and software (operational systems, office document processing, accounting program, etc) – all items that you purchase, “touch and fee”, – the items the IRS regards as assets and allows for their value to depreciate.
But investment does not stop there: in reality, one must also think of TCO (total cost of ownership): hardware and software also need things to get it set up, up and running – and to keep it’s best level performance over time. Do not forget about software subscriptions, renewals, internet or phone connections and various service fees. The TCO is often 3-4 times more what you pay for the hardware in the first place. Realizing that may help you be more realistic in your budget expectations.
Always remember – your technology is your tool that allows your business to perform at it’s best. It is your responsibility to have proper tools, properly maintained.
You don’t want to spend money on luxury items you don’t need (Cadillac), but the proper tool that would perform best for your business (excavator) may be a smarter investment compared to some shovels.
3. Consider your employees, their productivity and office morale
How do your employees cope with outdated technology? Do their daily routine and responsibility require proper technology? Are they properly trained to take most of available technology? How do they feel when things do not perform as they should? Does it affect team morale? How does it affect their performance? How does it affect productivity? And most importantly, how does that affect your customer? At the end, all of the above will affect you bottom line.
4. Consider the devices your employees are using
While per-user pricing may seem like more sense to you, per-device pricing is perhaps most effective. A user with a desktop, laptop, home PC, iPad and smartphone is likely to require far more support than an employee or part-time staff with only one device, such a laptop or a desktop PC. More devices may require more maintenance. Devices purchased or leased through your Managed Services Provider (MSP) are typically standardized for most optimal support model; while Bring-Your-Own-Devices (BYOD) – such as personal laptops, home computers needing to connect to the office – may be more vulnerable to outer threats, third-party exposure, etc. and may require extra attention.
Not every type of business will fit a per-user price, and some would not fit a per-device price. That is where proper assessment conducted prior to engagement is very important: it allows to identify technology needs and create a realistic, reasonable scope of support required to keep your business network up and running at most efficient level.
5. Consider your business practices and industry compliance
Very often small businesses must comply with regulatory standards and guidelines. Regulated industries – Medical services and Law firms among them- are evolving with speed of light and you may be required to team up with the right IT partner to implement important changes. Is your IT provider equipped to research, implement, and manage your network environment so it complies with necessary laws? Having important needs like industry compliance is an important factor in deciding which services are vital to your business, and which IT support provider is right for you.
6. Consider your business goals
Think of best possible ways to achieve your goals – and think where technology fits. What devices, software, and processes can help you get there faster, with most success? Would your business benefit from having an IT consultant? Is your current situation suited best for your plans and goals?
7. Consider your Return on Investment (ROI)
When it comes to spending on IT, most SMBs feel they are already spending too much. They think of payments for computers, printers, and license renewals. If they have an IT department, they also know how much money goes into IT employee salaries and benefits.To those SMB owners cost benefits of managed services are more obvious than to those without full time IT staff.
Then there are also SMBs that don’t have full-time IT, but rather an “IT guy” that comes and fixes stuff as it happens. In addition to hardware and software, SMB owners also go by the bill they get from their IT support person. You may be aware that there are also other factors such as network downtime, computer breakdowns, vendor management – but do you actually know the numbers behind them? Not every support model is best fit for most attractive ROI.
Most SMBs who joined the Managed Services movement used to feel they spent too much on IT, too, but what they found with Managed Services is that they can save up to 50% of money compared to support based on break/fix, or ala-carte pricing. Talk to a trusted Managed Services Provider (MSP) and let them demonstrate the ROI numbers to you to see if it would works best for your purpose.
In conclusion – there may be other factors that you want to consider when looking for the best price, but what you should be able to remember these final 3 quick tips, based on the considerations above, that should guide your decision making process when deciding on the best IT Support model, and choosing IT Consultant or Managed Services Provider or your business.
When it comes to looking for best price on IT services, remember these 3 quick tips:
- Do not focus just on Cost of Purchase
- Remember the Total Cost of Ownership
- Consider your ROI
If your business is in New Jersey area, and you are looking for a reliable, competent IT Support company, look no further: we monitor your computers, fix or even stop issues before they occur, taking care of your computer needs on site, or behind the scenes, making sure your operations run smoothly. With our managed services your business can have a team of highly skilled network engineers and computer technicians service your business computers at a fraction of a cost of a full-time employee.
Take advantage of our Managed Services: monthly IT support plans
Call us at 201-493-1414 to get more info on Managed Services we can provide for your business, today.