There comes a time in your business when you need to procure the services of a company to help you manage your technology. You need someone beyond just a local technical consultant, but you need a company who can manage your IT infrastructure.
Why? You can no longer handle the technology yourself, your staff are simply too busy trying to grow the business and you need an expert.
When the day comes for you to interview prospective solution providers, do interview more than one, it is best to be as prepared as you can and really know about the technology you are using and what pain points you need to be solved.
In the “old” days, maybe 5 – 10 years ago, there weren’t that many flat fee services (managed service providers) offering a fixed price for technology services. If your computer broke down you hired a technician to come and paid him an hourly rate to fix things.
Larger businesses had the resources to install the tools and services to monitor their technology systems and pro-actively respond to any problems.
However, over the last 2 – 3 years (maybe a bit more) there’s an increase in managed service providers (MSPs) who can offer fixed rate services to small businesses.
Everdream (recently bought by Dell) and CenterBream were pioneers in this model.
Now they are joined by The Utility Company, DirectPointe and services from hundreds of local consultants.
Instead of paying a technician by the hour when problems crop up, you pay a flat fee of maybe $100 – $200 per computer. The managed service provider monitors your network, updates your computers, and can repair many computer problems without stepping a foot in your office. Most computer problems are not “broken” hardware but software that doesn’t work right and can be remotely diagnosed and fixed.
If the computer can get to the Internet, your remote managed service provider can access the problem computer remotely and repair it.
When considering hiring a managed service provider there’s a few things you want to know about:
- Background checks of staff
- Technical competence
- Ability to interact and communicate with others
- An overview of how the remote technology works
- Get in writing EVERYTHING that is covered
If you are paying hourly rates for computer support you’re paying too much. You should be paying a flat monthly rate per computer.
Outsource as much of your technology as possible to a small group of trusted service providers. Computer and network support; email support; security; backup and data recovery – these are all services best left to outsourced experts. I would suggest having at least 2 service providers, instead of having one provider managing all aspects of your technology.
Network World has a very good article on MSPs here.