The Difference Between The Four IT Support Models
And How To Choose Which One Is Right For Your Business
I’ve worked in IT since 1995 and my experience has been with all four styles of IT support: time and materials, managed IT service, having the software vendor manage the service, and in-house IT manager. I’ve had my best overall experiences working within the managed service model, but not because it’s necessarily better than the others. Each has its pros and cons. We’re going to talk about what those pros and cons are in this article.
Time and materials
Time and Materials is often referred to as "break and fix". What that means is if something breaks, you call someone to fix it, and they charge for their time and any materials it takes to solve the issue.
For example, somebody brings in a computer that's broken. They want the IT service to fix it. Let's say this takes three hours of labor, and a new hard drive for a hundred dollars. The IT service charges them for the time it takes to fix the computer (three hours), and materials used (the hard drive).
The IT service will add a markup on the product, and then give you an invoice. So it's a transactional, rather than a relationship.
Time and materials is a good option if you have less than 3 computers/users. But even if you have a micro business, you should still have an IT budget. Because things WILL break when least expected.
Managed IT Services
While "break/fix" is transactional, managed IT service is a relationship.
A managed IT service provider takes care of the whole IT infrastructure, and provides whatever the customer needs on an ongoing basis. They predict and prevent problems before issues even arise. A managed IT provider is able to do this because they have built a relationship with their client, and knows their business's IT infrastructure inside and out.
Generally, managed IT services means better network efficiency. The time it takes to do things is much less, because everything's tuned up really well. You're running on the latest updates and latest security. So there's less amount of risk involved. That's the big difference.
Managed IT services are charged by a fixed price per month. That can either be based on number of users, number of devices, or what type of services a business needs.
Some larger businesses (100+ computers), co-manage IT. This is where they'll have a company that puts in a copier, somebody else puts in the phone system, and they'll also have an internal IT person.
But in order to organize all those separate pieces, they also work with a company like Eugene IT Services that will manage the whole infrastructure and then give information to the internal IT manager. That's useful to them so that they can report back to corporate. It's more of a proactive approach where you're looking at the whole infrastructure and you're looking at protecting it for the future rather than reacting to emergencies when something unexpectedly breaks.
Software vendor-supplied IT services
This is most common when you've bought a new computer or software, and you also buy the service package specifically for that product.
Take a Dell computer, for example. When you buy one, they'll try to sell you a package for a certain amount per year, and you can call Dell's 24 hour help desk.
That vendor will then take care of those services for you.
There's also supplied IT services, which are software-vendor specific. Microsoft, for example. You can buy Windows as a service. So basically what you do is you run a little program that takes you to a server that you log into and your windows desktop.
So you're not actually doing anything on your computer. You're doing everything from the cloud on the virtual desktop.
The downside is if you ever want to work without internet, you're screwed.
The upside of that is that you don't have to deal with any headaches. It's all dealt with. If something doesn't work, you just reboot.
"In House" IT Manager
An IT manager is different than managed IT. Confusing, I know! Let me explain.
An in-house IT manager is an employee of your company. They work just as many other supervisors work- by overseeing a group of people.
Managed IT services, on the other hand, are the folks who roll up their sleeves and do the work themselves. They are a contractor, rather than an employee.
Both jobs are important, but generally only larger corporations have need for an in-house IT manager.
Which One Will You Choose?
All business, large and small, require IT support.
There are many IT service models, and they can confuse anyone who is not tech savvy. There is a huge difference between them and you need to understand the model your on-demand company uses before you make a choice.
Choosing an IT support provider can be difficult. But choosing the right one will make your transition smoother and more efficient, improving your operations and saving you time and money.
Even though Eugene IT Services is a managed IT provider, we don't think that's right right choice for everyone! If you're having problems deciding what to do when it comes to IT support, give us a call and we are happy to point you in the right direction.