IT Managed Services can be sized to fit any business – even a business with only one (1) computer! The main benefit of Managed Services is that the business turns over the care and maintenance of its IT systems to an expert or group of experts. This in turn frees up the business to utilize its time and assets in building its business.
Many business owners or managers believe their particular business is too small to benefit from IT Managed Services. The question then is how large does a small business has to be to benefit from outsourcing its IT maintenance? The key to the answer is what does it costs the business to be without its IT system. Experience has shown that most businesses have no idea what that number is even though its calculation is not difficult. For example if it costs your business, in lost productivity (think payroll), business opportunity (think sales, fulfillment of orders, prospecting), etc., a $1,000.00 an hour for your IT to be offline, then you have a good estimate of what your costs are. Even the smallest business will find their costs to be at least $500.00 an hour or more.
As an example, I recently visited my doctor on a day when the clinic’s entire network was down. When I asked, what had happened the receptionist told me the server had crashed. It was amazing what the impact of the loss of the server had on the business of the clinic. The check-in was delayed 20 minutes; the doctor was running behind since the internal communication network was not working; he was having to record notes by hand and he could not retrieve my records we needed to decide about surgery; and finally, when I checked out they had no way to access my insurance therefore they had to bill me my co-pay. It is hard to calculate what it cost the clinic that day because their IT system was down.
We don’t spend much on maintaining our IT now
This is the first issue that many owners/managers stumble over. It is your historical cost but the cost of being down that is most important. The business world, as well as our personal world, is more and more connected with IT technology. The more we connect the more of an opportunity that exists for our IT system to fail. Every computer or IT system will fail at some point and that is when the real cost begins to add up.
Every business should take a few minutes and estimate what the cost of IT downtime is. One client we worked with had it down to the penny what their cost was per hour, so he said. He carried the number, a four-digit number, on a piece of paper in his wallet. He might have been a little obsessive, but he absolutely understood that there was an out of pocket cost when their IT system went down. This information allowed him to make better decisions when it came to planning, implementing and maintaining their IT system.
Servicing your IT system is not a core function of the business
Owners or managers of most small businesses, regardless of size, have to decide on a regular basis whether to keep some piece of work or function in house or outsource it. In many cases these decisions are over small issues like delivery of an order. However, the outsourcing of one’s IT system care and maintenance is a major function. IT maintenance is also one of those areas that cries out to be outsourced.
It is not a core function and the technical skill and knowledge required to maintain the typical IT system is immense. More importantly the required skill level is always changing and must be kept up to date on an almost daily basis when it comes to system security issues. Non-core functions should as a rule be outsourced except if issues with them only arise occasionally.
IT maintenance is also one of those functions that cries out to be outsourced. When a business outsources its IT maintenance with a quality vendor it is liking hiring a professional when you need a lawyer, doctor or engineer. Your IT provider should have the tools, the knowledge and expertise to plan, implement and maintain your system. An IT provider is a professional who constantly works to keep their practice up to date with necessary equipment, software and knowledge to keep their clients IT systems “up and running.”
IT Managed Services are all about the Provider’s costs
When first presented with the idea of “IT Managed Services” most business people envision this expansive and expensive service package. However, when you look behind the curtain it is not really the cost of the service system itself that the provider looks at, but how many units he/she can add to his service system. It is all about amortizing costs over a larger and larger number of clients.
If I am an IT Managed Services provider who has say a 1,000 units already on the system, then my cost to add another 5, 10 or 25 is minimal. Yes, there is a cost for setting up and maintaining each client account. That is why many providers, like any other business, look for a sweet spot of business size to pursue as clients. However, boiled down to basics on a day to day basis it does not costs the provider any more, but actually less to add more units.
Each day you have responsibilities tied to the management of that business. Depending on the size of the business and your own management style you will delegate or outsource some of those responsibilities. The persons or companies that you outsource those responsibilities to in many ways can dictate the success of your business. A wrong decision or misplaced trust on your part and your personal as well as the company’s success can be harmed.
Finally, what keeps your IT working is proactive maintenance. The introduction of new computer viruses and various other types of attacks have made proactive maintenance even more important. Anti-virus and IT security is but one of the areas that require diligent proactive oversight. Computer equipment and software also must be maintained and kept updated. Your internet connection, website and mobile devices are several more areas that potential need 24/7 monitoring and maintenance. At the end of the day, IT Managed Services and the proactive maintenance it provides is the most viable and effective way for a business to keep its IT system up and its doors open for business.