Understanding the Different Types of Business IT Support

Whether you're a large corporation, a mid-sized organization, a small business, or even a solo entrepreneur, most businesses rely on some technical expertise to set up, repair, or maintain their technology. The types of IT services you need to support your business, regardless of its size or sophistication, break down into 3 different models:

  1. Internal IT
  2. Outsourced: time and materials (T&M)
  3. Outsourced: managed IT services

Each model has its own advantages and drawbacks. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but by understanding what each model entails and comparing it to what your business needs are, you can determine what is right for you.

Internal IT Support
Internal IT support means that you have an internal technical employee(s) on staff responsible for all technology support, installation, maintenance, and so forth. Large, or enterprise, businesses often choose to have an entire internal IT department to handle their network infrastructure, end user support, technical projects, and IT planning. They value the intimate, in-depth, and specialized knowledge an internal team solely dedicated to their network can provide.

For small to midsized businesses (SMB), the expense of having an internal team is typically not possible. However, some do choose to have one or a few IT employees. They value the benefit of having someone onsite with personal knowledge of their business to handle IT issues immediately. However, an IT support staff salary is expensive. And, with only one or two resources, ensuring coverage during vacations and time off can be problematic. For most SMBs, relying solely on internal IT support is neither desirable nor possible.

Outsourced: T&M (or Break/Fix)
The philosophy behind a break/fix IT support model is when it breaks, fix it. This outsourced approach consists of you hiring an outside IT specialist or even an IT support company. When a problem occurs, you report it to your service provider. They will either come onsite or work remotely to address the problem. Once resolved, you are billed for the time the technician took to resolve your issue.

The main benefit of break/fix support is that it’s a pay-as-you-go model. Some small companies value the convenience of no ongoing costs and believe that it is more economical. The chief drawback to break/fix is inherent in its very philosophy, when it breaks, fix it. And if it breaks again, fix it again. And again. And again. You never know when something will break, and what impact that will have financially. This leads to an unstable environment and unpredictable costs. In the long run, break/fix will often cost your business more.

Outsourced: Managed Services
The philosophy behind a managed services support model is to prevent things from breaking in the first place. This outsourced process consists of hiring a managed services provider (MSP) who proactively monitors and maintains your technology infrastructure to stop problems before they start and minimize technical disruptions. Many issues can be identified and corrected proactively without any impact to your business. When a problem does arise, the provider receives a notification in the instant at which it occurs and can address it either remotely or onsite. You pay a monthly flat fee for the service regardless of the number or severity of issues.

A managed services model aligns the interests of the service provider and your business. Both parties want network stability because they both lose money when anything goes wrong. While you experience lost productivity when problems occur, MSPs lose their biggest resources – technical support time. Therefore, MSPs work proactively to ensure that your network is stable, secure, and high performing.

In addition to this synergy, there are additional benefits to working with an MSP:

  • Predictable costs and consistent budgeting with a fixed monthly fee
  • Unlimited service hours
  • Proactive maintenance and monitoring
  • Security and data backup tools
  • High quality network management systems
  • Faster response time with defined service level expectations
  • A technical team of resources dedicated to keeping you up and running

Although there is an ongoing cost, the enhanced stability and security of your network results in less downtime and more productivity for you and your team. What’s more, it takes technology off your plate. You no longer worry about IT and can focus instead on running your business.

Choosing the right IT support for your business depends on a variety of factors. Size, industry, resources, the sophistication of your technology needs, and your business goals all influence the decision. SMBs are increasingly turning to managed services. The outsourced model allows them to leverage expert technical support and employ systems they might not have access to on their own. And the proactive approach helps stop problems before they start. Which model is right for your business?

You can learn more about our approach to managed services, Daystar Direct.