Defining Managed IT Services
Managed IT Services is the term used for outsourcing the daily management responsibilities required for a technology environment that generally includes computers, networking equipment, and servers, and functions as a strategic method for improving operations and reducing expenses for a business. The vendor, in this case the managed IT service provider, remains fully accountable for the entire network, providing a great deal of proactive maintenance in an effort to minimize downtime, and ensuring availability for service either remotely or onsite when a problem occurs.
Pricing Managed IT Services
Managed IT service companies provide affordable solutions to the complex technology needs and problems of small businesses [defined as companies or non-profit organizations with 10 – 200 employees] for a fixed monthly fee, often based on a per-device (per server, per computer) model and/or based on the complexity of the network. Regulations, security, data movement, wireless accessibility and employee remote access requirements are aspects that are taken into account when determining the complexity and pricing of the network.
Pricing includes remote support, constant monitoring of the client’s network(s), account management, and should also include onsite proactive visits. (Some managed IT support providers charge extra for this, which is a little controversial, as a managed IT service provider, by definition should be motivated to work proactively for the client in every way possible.) Emergency, 24/7 support is usually priced separately, as some clients simply don’t need IT support outside of business hours. The tools, systems, and products used by managed IT service providers should be included with the monthly flat-rate pricing, as those are just the cost of doing business. IT projects are also priced separately, and can be based on the estimated number of hours it will take to complete the project, or a flat-rate for the project. It is wise to push for a flat-rate as you don’t want to be stuck with a higher than expected bill if the project takes more time.
The IT Support Team
Managed IT service providers employ technical engineers who specialize in and have extensive experience with business networks, computer support, security, and other small business IT needs. Ideally, the managed IT service provider is only employing full-time employees, not independent contractors, because there is more control and security. As full-time employees, the managed IT service company can require the technical engineers, network administrators, and help desk team that is supporting your secure network and data to have a background check and sign confidentiality agreements. Also, the managed IT service provider can have a comprehensive general liability insurance policy and Errors and Omissions policy in place to cover their employees and protect the client. Generally, managed IT services are delivered from a Network Operations Center (NOC) using a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) system, however, proactive onsite and emergency services are also provided when necessary.
Included IT Support Services
Services range from basic monitoring to comprehensive IT support and IT consulting, backup solutions, business continuity planning, workflow improvement, network optimization, and high-level security. When partnering with a managed IT service firm, it is important to understand what services are usually included. The variety of services that are provided varies greatly depending on the provider and is also expanding. Broad categories include:
- – Computer setups, support, optimization, and maintenance
- – Server setup, support, optimization, and maintenance
- – Network support, optimization, 24/7 monitoring, and maintenance
- – Data backup checks and solutions
- – IT consulting
- – IT project assessments and management
- – Virus/malware protection
- – Basic procurement services and new equipment setup
- – Email services and support
Managed IT service providers that offer a more comprehensive approach also include:
- – Continuity planning
- – Equipment/software research, advanced procurement services, and extensive quoting
- – IT consulting for:
- + cloud solutions and data warehousing
- + businesses that are scaling quickly
- + businesses that are expanding into new locations
- + IT standardization
- + businesses that must comply with industry regulations
- + compliance and audit planning for HIPAA or the SEC
- + high security and confidentiality requirements
- – Security assessments, protocol development, and training
- – Extensive email services such as archiving for compliance
- – Third party vendor management
- – Client-specific process and procedure development
Managed IT service providers that have only full-time engineers on their team and offer these additional services tend to charge more per month, however, it can be well worth it. As it’s often said, “You get what you pay for.” The business can greatly benefit and find value in off-loading this work, and can also be better protected with background checks, confidentiality agreements, and comprehensive insurance policies. Companies with 15 – 250 employees fit well into the managed IT service model. Most often it does not make sense to have IT support employees on staff, because of the management and performance review responsibilities, payroll and benefits expenses, turnover, absences for illness and vacation, skills and experience limitations, and the investment in the tools and systems that make managed IT services so beneficial.
If you would like to better understand the managed IT service model and determine if it is the right fit for your business, give us a call. We promise to provide an unbiased opinion, recommendation, and additional information to help you find the right IT support solution for your company or organization.