Understanding Managed Technology Services
The buzzword(s) that many business owners are hearing these days in the TechnologyÂ space are “Managed Services”, “Managed IT Services”, “Managed Technology Services” but what are Managed Technology Services? We are going to cover several aspects of Managed Technology Services to help you better understand what Technology Companies out there are offering over your typical break-fix model.
What are break-fix Technology Services?
Break-fix Technology Services are a Technology service company provides IT services as needed and then bills their customer. The customer may also purchase a block of hours or a small retainer from their IT service provider. This is a very reactive approach to technology meaning the the business is waiting for something to break then experiences down-time until their IT support company arrives on-site or performs a repair remotely.
- Typically lower IT costs
- Higher overall costs due to down-time – Employee costs, sales lost, efficiency is reduced, frustration and headaches for owners and employees.
- If the break-ï¬x IT support provider works slowly, they make more money.
- Itâ€™s often a â€œbest effortâ€ service â€“ response times are variable and guarantees are seldom made.
- If they attend to the same problem more than once, you get double-billed for it.
- Your greatest IT disasters are their most proï¬table jobs.
- The provider is only going to provide exactly what you are paying for and nothing more.
Understanding Managed Technology Services
Before we jump into the pro’s and con’s of Managed Technology Services let us better understand what these services are. Managed Technology Services areÂ essentially a complete outsourcing and control over your company’s IT systems. Which is extremely important, in today’s age of technology and global market many companies and live or die by the quality and responsiveness of their Technology Infrastructure. Managed Technology Services works with your business from the bottom up to learn what your business objectives are and have your technology needs meet those objectives. From a Medium to Large Business perspective this process can be quite complex but for the typical small business you should be getting the following services:
- Business/Technology Consultation – During this consultation the Technology company learns about the clients business and their goals so they can help plan to align business and technology goals into one.
- Systems Integration – All software and hardware are consolidated into as few physical machines as possible and often a companies 5 server environment is brought down to 1 or 2 server and virtual computers and servers are used in their place. Virtual servers and desktops help to reduce down-time and decrease overall costs because you are purchasing less overall hardware.
- Deploying new IT Systems – During this phase new hardware and software is deployed to better meet your technology goals. Sometimes this phase doesn’t come for some months in newer clients who have bought into a Managed Technology Services package simply because they may already have new hardware, software, etc.
Managed Technology Solution – At this point the Technology provider really sets up a business for on-going support, monitoring and upgrades. This typically includes
- A 24/7 Monitoring and Alert Platform to proactive solve IT issues before they effect users.Â – Less Downtime and issues fixed that you don’t even know about!
- A minimum support agreement of 8 hours a day 5 days a week on-site and remote support with service level agreement response times depending on the severity of the issues and how they impact your business. -Â GuaranteedÂ results
- Anti-VirusÂ application for all computers and servers. – No need to worry about licensing and renewals
- Anti-MalwareÂ application for all computers and server. -Â No need to worry about licensing and renewals
- Regular maintenance and inventory of all hardware and software installed including licensing and service tag information for warranty support. – Less Downtime
- Windows and 3rd Updates that are typically monitored by the IT company or their vendors to ensure Â problematic updates are not installed to the clients computers.Â – Less Downtime and always up-to-date.
- A remote access solution for the clientÂ – If you’re only a cloud solution then there is usually a direct login to your virtual machine or you could be using something like Log Me In or TeamViewer.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery Management Locally and OnlineÂ – These systems are monitored daily so your backups are always up-to-date. -Â Never get stuck in that disaster situation again hoping that an old backup works or finding out that your system hasn’t backed up in days or weeks.
- Additional ApplicationsÂ -Â Typically, several additional applications are included to help users and to assist the IT company in supporting and maintaining your systems. In a break-fix model the client would have Â to pay for these applications and for them to be updated. The advantage of Managed Technology Services is it’s all included!
- Flat Rate IT CostsÂ – Better for budgeting, no surprises, less IT related issues, less headaches, less down-time and overall just a better day-to-day experience with your technology.
- The Managed Technology Services Provider should always provide Monthly Reports that should include but are not limited to: Server, Desktop and Laptop Patch Status, Warranty Information, Disk Space on all devices, Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware scan and threat reports, Temp File cleanup’s, CPU Performance analysis, Disk Performance and Utilization, Memory Utilization, Page File Utilization on Servers, Overall Server availability, in some cases network up-time and SNMP Device Monitoring Status (printers, routers, firewalls, managed switches, etc.). These and many more applications are critical and it’s important that they be included in your monthly report and reviewed regularly.
- The Managed Technology Services Provider should also always provide a Robust Customer Portal.Â Such a portal should include at a minimum a robust service ticketing system. Each service ticket should in theory have all work performed on your IT systems; at a minimum high-level overview of work performed. Additionally, it’s always great to have access to information regarding your company and what information your Managed Technology Services Provider knowsÂ about your company such as configuration information (usernames, passwords, IP Addresses, software licensing, hardware licensing, etc.), access to invoices, access to agreements/contracts, notes about your account, etc.
The cost perspective of Managed Technology Services for SMB’s
Now that you can see the advantages of Managed Technology Services weÂ find many small businesses that haven’t had a disaster situation simply think Managed Technology Services are just more expensive than their current break fix model. When we talk to small business we here things like “I just can’t justify the additional cost while it seems like our systems are running fine now.”, “It doesn’t seem like something we need” or “Accounting can’t quantify the cost of down-time of our IT systems in relation to employees not accomplishing work, sales lost, etc.”.
I really like the last one about not being able to quantify these values and in almost every single instance we have found that these businesses have not experienced a disaster situation where more than 50% of their computers were down or the entire network was down. However, I say it’s easy to quantify these values on paper just look at the number of employees you have, what they make on salary, per hour, per day and translate everything into hours. If 10 employees making an average of $25 per hour are unable to work for 6 hours that’s an immediate loss of $1500 in direct wages never mind associated taxes, retirement vehicles, savings vehicles, etc. Or maybe a sale or two is lost this one is a bit more difficult but again determine what your average sale is worth in $ and how long your sales cycle is so you can determine not only the $ amount lost on the sale but also the time spent before your IT down-time to get that sales through your sales pipeline. I think you will find that these numbers add up quickly and they also quickly over take over the cost of a Managed Technology Services Agreement.
Just to give you an idea of the typically cost of a Managed IT Services Agreement in CT for 10 computers and 1 server. Range: $400-$800 per month.