7 things to consider when deciding which model of IT service is right for your business?
There are several IT support models, including “break/fix”, “ala-carte”, and Managed Services among most popular choices. Take these factors into consideration, before deciding which IT support model is best for your small or medium size business.
- Consider importance of your business technology to your business processes
If your printer stopped working, or your network service is interrupted, how will it affect your business? The answer to this question will determine many variables in your IT support package. You may be in position to wait a few hours for a “break/fix” support, or you may be losing business every minute your system is down. You may need a specific type of backup and disaster recovery plan, or emergency response services.
Once you determine where the technology falls on the scale of importance to your business, it would be easier for you to make decisions about the extent of support for you IT needs.
- Consider the real cost of technology
Most other small business owners focus on the cost of purchase. There are capital costs such as new hardware (computers, phones, tablets and servers, and software (operational systems, office document processing, accounting program, etc.) – all items that you purchase initially to get your business started.
But investment does not stop there: in reality, one must also think of TCO (total cost of ownership): hardware and software also need other things to get it set up, and to keep your business up and running. These items often include: software subscriptions, renewals, internet or phone connections and various service fees. The TCO is often 3-4 times more what you pay for the hardware in the first place. Realizing that may actually help you be more realistic in your budget expectations.
Always remember – your technology is your tool that allows your business perform at its best. It is your responsibility to have proper tools and keep them properly maintained.
You don’t want to spend money on luxury items you don’t need (such as a Cadillac), but the proper tool that would perform best for your business (excavator) may be a smarter investment compared to some shovels.
- Consider your employees, their productivity and office morale
How do your employees cope with outdated technology? Do their daily routine and responsibility require the latest technology? Are they properly trained to make the most of their available technology? How do they feel when things do not perform as they should? Does it affect team morale? How does it affect their performance? How does it affect productivity? And most importantly, how does that affect your customer? At the end, all of the above will affect your bottom line.
- Managed IT or Per User Pricing
While per-user pricing may seem making more sense to you, managed service may be perhaps most effective. A user with a desktop, laptop, home PC, iPad and smartphone is likely to require far more support than an employee or part-time staff with only one device, such a laptop or a desktop PC. More devices may require more maintenance. Devices that stay in the office are typically standardized for most optimal support model; while Bring-Your-Own-Devices (BYOD) – such as personal laptops, home computers needing to connect to the office – may be more vulnerable to outer threats, third-party exposure, etc. and may require extra attention.
Not every type of business will fit a per-user price, and some would not fit a managed IT plan. That is where proper assessment conducted prior to engagement is very important: it allows to identify technology needs and create a realistic, reasonable scope of support required to keep your business network up and running at most efficient level.
- Consider your business practices and industry compliance
Very often small businesses must comply with regulatory standards and guidelines. Regulated industries – Mortgage Brokers and Law Firms among them- are evolving with speed of light and you may be required to team up with the right IT partner to implement important changes. Is your IT provider equipped to research, implement, and manage your network environment so it complies with necessary laws? Having important needs like industry compliance is an important factor in deciding which services are vital to your business, and which IT support provider is right for you.
- Consider your business goals
Think of best possible ways to achieve your goals – and think where technology fits. What devices, software, and processes can help you get there faster, with most success? Would your business benefit from having an IT consultant? Is your current situation suited best your plans and goals?
- Consider your Return on Investment (ROI)
When it comes to spending on IT, most small businesses feel they are already spending too much. They think of payments for computers, printers, and license renewals. If they have an IT department, they also know how much money goes into an IT employee’s salary and benefits. To those Sacramento small business owners, the cost benefits of managed IT services are more obvious than to those without full time IT staff.
Then there are also small businesses that don’t have full-time IT, but rather an “IT guy” that comes and fixes stuff as it happens. In addition to hardware and software, there is an added cost of having a technical travel to you, fix the problem, and charge you for the time/products it takes to resolve the problem. You may be aware that there are also other factors such as network downtime, computer breakdowns, and vendor management – but do you actually know the numbers behind them? Not every support model is best fit for most attractive ROI.