Managed services have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among small to midsize business (SMBs) that lack in-house IT staff. Managed services providers are professional IT teams that can take on a particular IT task — such as monitoring your network or maintaining security updates — or assume responsibility for your entire IT environment. Abba takes the latter approach with its IT WORKS support service.
Managed services are popular because they provide a predictable monthly IT budget that generally is more cost-effective than hiring internal IT staff. What’s more, a managed services solution that includes monitoring and proactive maintenance of IT systems can improve security and help prevent downtime.
Is a managed services solution right for your business? To answer that question, it’s important to understand the true costs of IT maintenance along with the value of efficient and secure computer systems:
- What does one hour, five hours or eight hours of IT downtime cost my business? If your organization relies upon IT for day-to-day operations, every hour of computer downtime is an hour of lost business. Depending upon the industry and size of the business, the cost could range from several thousand dollars an hour to much more. In addition to lost revenue and productivity, downtime can impact intangibles such as customer service and goodwill. The cost increases with extended downtime, with many small businesses simply unable to recover.
- How much time does my staff spend fixing IT problems? Even organizations that do not have dedicated IT staff have someone who responds to IT issues, and those “shoulder tap” requests for help can really add up. There are hidden costs here as well. For example, what are the risks to the business if the one person who keeps things running gets sick, goes on vacation or leaves the company?
- What are the costs of “reactive” IT maintenance? Responding to IT problems as they arise increases maintenance expenses and puts the organization at much greater risk of downtime or a security breach. Proactive IT maintenance helps insure the business against those risks.
- Can my cash flow take a big “hit” right now? Computer system problems that crop up unexpectedly can cost thousands of dollars to repair, and the price goes up if the repair is done on an emergency basis. That’s tough to swallow in a slow economy — particularly when proactive maintenance can prevent many problems and smooth out IT expenses.
Bottom Line: Armed with an understanding of how much reactive IT really costs the business, owners and managers can make more-informed decisions about ongoing computer system maintenance and management. SMBs can then ascertain whether a managed services solution can help them reduce overhead while improving availability and security, and select the best managed services provider to meet their business needs.