“Managed Computer Services” for your small business

“Managed Services” is the service catchphrase of the decade.  There are different marketing versions of the name: “Managed IT”, “Gold Service” and others.  But they all have one thing in common: you pay a fixed amount every month for (almost) all of your IT needs. It’s a great way of handling your IT budget since it lets you know ahead of time what it will cost.

For companies that are large or have a lot of computer needs, it is well worth the cost.  If your company has 100 or more workstations, there’s going to be a regular stream of service needed to keep things working well and you do not want to get an invoice for every little thing that happens.  With a Managed Service contract, you pay once a month and (almost) everything is included.  It’s a bit like buying health insurance.

Managed Service contracts have a few great features.  One is that they provide for regular maintenance of the network.  Things like updates, security fixes, maintaining backups, etc.  They also usually build in alerts when something is just not working right.  If a hard drive is starting to fail, it triggers an alert that gets sent to the support company.  They can check it out and deal with it before a failure occurs.  A contract also usually provides for remote access of individual systems, so that most service can be done quickly and efficiently without having to schedule an on-site visit.  These are great features and go a long way towards keeping a network running like a well-oiled machine.

This level of service comes at a cost, though.  A typical contract costs between $50 and $75 per workstation each month.  It is not unusual for a 100 station office to have a $5000 per month bill.

But if your company is small, say 50 users or less, the benefit is less clear.  Especially if your company has 20 workstations or maybe only 5 or 10, the cost of a Managed Service contract is harder to justify.  So companies this size have been mostly ignored and underserved by IT support firms.  Who can blame them?  It certainly makes sense from their viewpoint to go after the bigger companies.  Those mean bigger contracts, more profits, etc.  If you are the salesman, would you rather sell a $500 per month contract or a $500 contract?

Up until now, the only real choices for small companies was to bite the bullet and pay for that big contract or have no contract and just call someone when a problem pops up.  There is now a third way: a hybrid contract that includes the best parts of Managed Services but does it in a way that keeps the cost down.

The dirty little secret of Managed Services is that all the automatic monitoring of hardware, that “over the shoulder” view of your network and that remote access to each workstation costs the service company almost nothing.  But when they sell their service contracts, these are the features they boast about.  They also include lots of tech support hours.  Sometimes unlimited and sometimes with a cap.

A hybrid Managed Services contract includes the good parts – the automatic monitoring and the remote access and anti-virus – and then bills separately for each service call but at a significant discount.  This gives the benefits of Managed Service with the low cost of as-you-need-it service.

TBG Networks calls this our Peace of Mind package because that’s what it provides.  With this package, your small company can be secure knowing that someone is keeping an eye on your network and is available when needed.

The IT Support industry needs to stop ignoring the small business world.  Small businesses make up the bulk of companies in the US and they deserve to have the support they need.

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