Why pay monthly for IT support - Part II?
In Part I of this post, we examined why managed IT services on a monthly subscription model was the most effective method of purchasing IT support for the majority of businesses, both in terms of cost and business continuity.
Here, in Part II, we will briefly examine the different levels of managed IT support and the importance of the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Easing into Managed Services
In basic financial terms, managed IT services will most likely work out more expensive than ad-hoc support. This is because you are purchasing extra services (such as monitoring & inclusive support time), but also as most businesses will have been ‘frugal’ with IT spending. So, how to move over gradually to a managed services model?
Begin with basic monitoring of your IT infrastructure. The health of your server and workstations can be monitored regularly (once a day or 24/7) and your IT support company alerted to any impending issues. The benefit is two-fold - major incidents are much more likely to be avoided and you are able to make informed decisions about IT spend.
Included support hours. Usually managed services will include support time in one form or another. This can be as a set number of blocks of time over the month, which may or may not be carried over, or ideally as unlimited IT support via remote and onsite methods. Or a combination of all of these. Managed IT services should always be tailored to your individual business giving you some degree of control over the monthly cost. A good IT company will tell you if you are being too ‘frugal’, however!
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Insist on an SLA and make sure you read it. This defines what is and isn’t included in your managed IT services and where the limit of responsibility is. Don’t assume you are covered for all eventualities just because the support appears all-inclusive.
Who is responsible for checking that backed up data is intact and usuable? What happens if one of your users installs ‘dodgy’ software? Are special projects like server rebuilds and PC re-installs included?
The SLA is there to avoid disputes in the future. You don’t want an IT support company that hides behind the SLA to pass the buck, but you do want to feel you are getting what you are paying for. The best kind of IT support company will go through the SLA to explain it and adapt it to your needs if appropriate.
Don’t be put off managed IT services by the apparent cost. Begin with a low cost entry solution to convince yourself of the benefits and work with your IT support company to tailor a support package that is right for your business.