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There are many ways of acquiring IT expertise and support. Here’s how to choose the right one for your business.

Companies of all sizes rely on their technology to communicate, collaborate, innovate, and gain competitive advantage. But maintaining those technology systems is a challenge. As the IT world continues to evolve, so too have the ways in which businesses access the tools and skills necessary to properly maintain their systems.
Here are all the models a business can use to access IT support and expertise, along with the relative advantages and disadvantages of each method.

The Managed IT Services Model – IT Support for Modern Businesses

The managed IT service model provides businesses with a team of IT engineers that proactively monitors, manages, and maintains their business technology. Armed with a specialized set of systems and processes, a managed IT service provider (MSP) performs most core support and maintenance work remotely, giving businesses an unobtrusive and transparent path to optimized network uptime and availability.

Other important hallmarks of the managed IT services model include:

  • An IT help desk to quickly address technology issues your staff faces during their work
  • Flat-rate billing for all your technology support, eliminating unpredictable charges or fees
  • Access to a full team of IT engineers and skillsets, including cloud computing, mobile devices management, cybersecurity expertise, and more in a single partner
  • Unlimited 24/7/365 IT monitoring and support, so your business is always supported

Proactive IT Service – Why the MSP Model Dominates Today

In previous IT support models, engineering staff repaired IT systems after they broke down. The problem with this method is that a malfunctioning system or application has already started harming productivity and costing your business money. The approach was fundamentally reactive and inefficient.
In contrast, MSPs provide proactive IT support that eliminates issues before they impact your staff. By minimizing network issues and downtime before they occur, companies not only save themselves the stress of dealing with malfunctioning technology but often reap considerable cost savings as well.

The managed IT support model provides optimal business-technology alignment, allowing 46 percent of businesses to save 25% of their IT budget after adopting managed services.

Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) – A Unique Feature of the MSP Model

Though much of their work can be done remotely, reputable MSPs will also arrange to have regular sit-down meetings between your executive team and their senior engineers. This service, known as virtual chief information officer (vCIO), helps you develop an IT strategy that’s aligned with your business objectives. vCIO support has several benefits:

  • Embrace new technologies with confidence
  • Guide your technology investment to ensure maximum ROI
  • Eliminate frustration during technology planning and projects
  • Help ensure cybersecurity and compliance for both on-premise and remote systems

Having a vCIO team in your corner is another major reason why businesses turn to an MSP for support.

The In-House IT Staffing Model

Another way for businesses to acquire the IT support they need is by hiring internal IT staff. While hiring an IT team may be the best option for businesses with complex or proprietary IT systems, there are many other cases in which this model isn’t the best fit.

To understand why the in-house model isn’t always the best choice, we’ve listed the major upsides and downsides of an internal IT team below.

Advantages of Internal IT StaffDisadvantages of Internal IT Staff
Easy access to support personnelLong and complex hiring process
Fast cultural alignment between IT and business teamsCompetitive job market and high employee standards for salaries and benefits
Ability to nurture talent to achieve optimized support of proprietary systemsAccess to a limited set of skills and abilities
Total control over IT support processesEmployee turnover that necessitates frequent re-training
Limited IT support during IT staff vacations and leave

There’s an assumption that because hiring people in-house is the way most positions are filled, it should also be the way that IT is managed. That’s simply not the case, however, as many of the items in the “disadvantages” column — such as employee turnover and limited access to skills — can present serious obstacles to businesses who aren’t prepared to manage them.

According to job search site Indeed, the average salary of a senior IT engineer nationwide is $99 thousand, with the cost of top-tier talent being significantly higher.

The Co-Managed IT Support Model

Co-managed support is similar to the managed IT service model. In this variation, a company works with an MSP who provides outsourced service to augment the capabilities of an internal IT staff. In some cases, the MSP may even help the company hire IT personnel with the right skills to effectively complement their outsourced solution.

By combining the benefits of the managed IT services model with an internal staff, co-managed IT has become a preferred choice for many mid-sized companies that need both onsite staff and the assuredness and consistency that come with outsourcing.

Co-managed support gives your IT team a backstop against sudden or unmanageable problems.

  • Unlimited help-desk escalation and overflow
  • System auditing, patching, and updating processes
  • Network infrastructure monitoring and management
  • A full suite of best-in-class maintenance and support tools

The Break Fix Model – Good for Budget-Conscious Small Businesses

“Break fix” is the oldest model for IT support. When an IT system or applications stops functioning correctly, you call a service provider who sends a technician onsite to your location to repair it. Their work is limited in scope to the one affected system, and they send you a bill for the hours they spent on the task.

While the straightforwardness of this arrangement may seem appealing, there are several serious downsides to the break-fix model.

Misalignment between the provider and business
The break-fix provider only makes money when your network is down, which could incentivize them to use the highest possible number of billable hours to fix your systems, or even do a shoddy job on the repair so as to necessitate more business in the future.

Unpredictable Costs
In the event of an IT catastrophe, like a ransomware attack or a data breach, the break-fix model opens your business up to a sudden, large IT support bill. Even if disaster doesn’t strike, the man-hour cost of an ambitious IT project, like a server or application migration, could easily cost thousands of dollars.

Reactive support that inevitably leads to downtime
Break-fix is essentially the opposite of the managed IT service model, in that it’s entirely reactive. As we mentioned above, reactive support keeps businesses on the back foot and is a poor foundation for an organization that values their technology or requires stable IT infrastructure.

This break-fix model is popular with small businesses that either don’t rely on their IT systems or are budget conscious in the extreme. However, for all but the smallest business the break-fix model has been mostly replaced by the ones listed above.

Complete Network – IT Service and Support for Any Need

With over two decades providing small and midsized businesses in Albany, New York and Charlotte, North Carolina with high-value IT support, the Complete Network team knows the positive impact that well-managed technology can have on a small or midsized business.

If your organization is struggling with poorly managed IT or is dissatisfied with your existing technology service provider, we’d love to help! Call our friendly team any time with your questions at 877.877.1840.