May 16, 2019
As a small business owner, you’ve likely struggled to decide how to manage your IT needs. Should you hire someone in-house or contract the work out to an IT service provider? If you decide to work with an outside agency, you have further decisions to make. IT companies offer different types of services and each company’s focus can differ as well. It’s important to understand these differences as you choose who to trust with your data and evolving technology needs. You will primarily come across three main types of IT support: Resellers, Pay-by-the-Hour Providers, and Managed Service Providers or MSPs.
Let’s look at the difference between these three types of IT support and why we believe there’s really only one smart choice for your business.
A reseller purchases IT products or services from a larger manufacturer, distributor, or service provider with the intention of reselling them to you, the consumer. Resellers work for commission which means the more products or services they sell you, the more money they make. This setup, unfortunately, puts the reseller’s needs ahead of the customer’s—there’s no incentive for a reseller to prevent IT issues in the first place or to fix your current equipment.
A reseller’s focus is always on selling you the latest, newest equipment and software versus finding the most effective, long-term solution for your business. This can lead to unnecessary spending for the customer without actually solving the underlying IT issue. A trained technology expert, such as an MSP, will take the time to understand your company’s needs, workflow, and unique challenges so they can make an informed recommendation. This recommendation might be to upgrade your systems but only if there isn’t another better long-term solution at hand.
Pay-by-the-Hour IT Services
Pay-by-the-hour services are just what they sound like: Your IT service provider charges you an hourly rate and then bills you for the time it takes to fix the issue at hand. This model can work well for businesses that rarely need IT support. It’s hard to predict, however, when something will go wrong, causing your website to go down for hours or critical data to be lost. When an IT emergency like this occurs, a pay-by-the-hour IT provider steps in to fix the issue, charging for however long it takes them to get your system up and running again.
Pay-by-the-hour service providers are there when you’re experiencing some level of IT emergency, but they don’t understand the daily operations of your business. As the customer, you also don’t ever know exactly how much the service will cost until after the issue is resolved—you pay the company for however many hours it takes to fix, whether that’s one hour or 20. In this relationship, the risk is entirely on you. There’s no guarantee that the company will stay within the estimated hours and the solution is often a temporary fix, so you may be paying again and again for the same services. The underlying issue with this model is the provider has no incentive to fix the issues quickly or effectively the first time. The faster they work, the less money they make, and if they provide a long-term solution, they lose your return business.
Managed Service Provider (MSP): Proactive Service, Long-Term IT Solutions
Unlike resellers or pay-by-the-hour providers, a Managed Service Provider or MSP charges a flat monthly fee for ongoing IT monitoring and maintenance. Their focus is on fully understanding your business and how best to leverage technology to meet your evolving needs and goals. A Managed Service Provider establishes a long-term relationship with their customers, becoming your IT service partner for day-to-day operations and quick resolutions to the rare IT emergency.
Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of your systems on a daily basis keeps disruptive IT issues at a minimum. Problems are detected and resolved often before you even realize anything was amiss. This proactive approach helps safeguard you against network downtime, ensuring you don’t lose customers or revenue. An MSP will also protect you against viruses and malware through ongoing security and maintenance services. This includes services like regular remote backups, firewalls, software updates, and team training. Should an unexpected emergency arise, your MSP will fix it at no extra cost.
Reliable, Affordable IT Support
We believe that Managed Service Providers offer the most comprehensive and cost-effective IT solutions, structured to protect and serve your business over the long-term. As a business owner, you know exactly how much to budget for IT every month and the services you receive are customized to fit your needs. This model of service is structured to help your business grow and reach its goals faster. It allows you to focus on high-level responsibilities like company culture and innovation while your MSP handles any technical hiccups, improves workflow, and ensures you’re always in compliance with security best practices.
For more information on what a Managed Service Provider offers, check out our Services page. We also recommend reading the following blog posts for more examples of how an MSP can support your IT needs and business goals:
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Based in Santa Cruz, California, Pagoda Technologies provides trusted IT support to businesses and IT departments throughout Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area and across the globe. To learn how Pagoda Technologies can help your business, email us at email@example.com to schedule a complimentary IT consultation.
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