Why MANAGED IT?
Posted by Matt Sidman at August 7th, 2011
Your business has been doing OK the past couple of years. The economy's been tough, but you're doing better than treading water. You've asked your salespeople to do more, to cold call more, and to be more rigorous at tracking progress in your CRM application. You've cut costs and delayed investment in new and upgrading old computers in order to pay your good, hard-working people fairly.
Most months, computers work fine and you don't have to pay anyone to fix problems. But other months the flood gates seem to open, resulting in $100s or even $1000s in unplanned costs. You know new computers and better software may help your salespeople be more productive in contacting prospects. You also secretly calculate how many sales are not being made when your top salesperson's laptop is running slow, gets a virus, or – gasp – crashes.
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You have a guy you can call when computer problems come up. That computer guy may be someone on your staff who is technically savvy and knows enough just to be dangerous. Or you might have a guy outside your company you can call who can fix your problems. You pay him hourly, but you cringe at the virtual meter ticking off the hours while he works through the problem. The problem gets resolved and ultimately your IT guy did a good job, but the damage is done: the bill included the time he charged at full rates, and your top salesperson was out of a laptop all day long. The costs are practically incalculable, and who knows what opportunities were missed.
Every time there is a computer problem, you ask whether this could have been avoided, and what would have happened if it was something bigger, like the e-mail server. Are crashes, viruses and failures just what happens when you depend on computers? When it comes to computers, you can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, right?
What options do you have?
The IT Guy: Traditional Break-Fix
When you call your IT guru when something breaks, he charges you by the hour to fix the problem. You may have tried to offset the cost by purchasing a block of hours in advance.
But there is a conflict of interest for your IT guy. The longer he takes to resolve the problem, the more he gets paid. If he uses too little time, it might not even cover the cost of gas it took to get him to your site. When you prepay for a block of hours, you are not guaranteeing any level of value because the amount of time he takes to resolve the problem is indirectly proportional to his efficiency and effectiveness. He actually gets paid more to do a poor job, or to take too long to fix it!
Managed IT is just the opposite. When you have Managed IT, you have paid flat fees to keep computers running. Managed IT does not charge you for time to fix problems they were responsible for keeping from happening in the first place. Managed IT fixes your computer problems fast and right because they are not getting paid for the time to fix it, no matter how long it takes. If Managed IT is doing its job, your computers are running problem-free (problems you see and the nasty underlying ones you don't), then your people are productive, your business is humming along and growing, you are happy, and your Managed IT provider is happy.
The Employee Who Knows Computers
What better way to handle computers is to use someone you already have to handle the problems, right? I mean, you are already paying them, so think of all the hourly charges you are saving by letting your top salesperson handle it.
But if your top salesperson is cleaning a virus off your Office Manager's laptop, who is selling to your top prospects? What happens to the opportunity that was only open that day, but the customer didn't get called? At least the virus is off the Office Manager's laptop, right? At least you saved a couple hundred dollars in hourly fees.
Managed IT is about letting the right people do the right things. If your salespeople aren't selling – or your engineers aren't engineering – and they are fixing problems you didn't hire them to do, then you aren't really saving money, opportunities are slipping away, and your business is not growing or becoming more successful. You don't have your salespeople fix plumbing problems or issues with the building – you pay and rely on your landlord or building manager to do that. Managed IT is always connected and on the hook to fix problems, and – if they are good – keep them from happening in the first place.
The Internal IT Staff
You ask yourself, "well how do the big boys do it?" They have an entire staff on payroll who is responsible for keeping IT running and fixing problems. You don't need an entire staff, but what if you hired one good expert and paid her salary to handle your IT? It would free up your key people to do what they are supposed to do, and it would let you keep costs on an even, predictable level.
What if two people have questions or problems at the same time? Get in line.
What if your Office Manager has a problem your new IT person is not as familiar with as other issues? She'll either learn on the job, or have to hire a consultant or contacted outside help.
What if your IT person goes on vacation, gets sick, quits, or takes another job? Yes, they do and it happens more often than is convenient.
A Managed IT provider has a deep staff with broad skills that is available each time your employees call or a problem needs to be fixed. A Managed IT provider is responsible for making sure they have all the skills, tools and time necessary to support your entire IT environment. Managed IT is your entire staff on payroll who is responsible for keeping IT running and fixing problems.
A Better Way to Manage IT
Managed IT is the better way. Whether your environment is cloud-based or onsite, Mac or PC, small or large, Managed IT is a flat-fee service that let's your organization depend on experts to keep your computers healthy and to resolve problems quickly and effectively.