Before you can accurately compare the fees, services and deliverables of one technology services company to that of another, you need to understand the two predominant pricing and service models most of these companies offer. Many companies offer a blend of the two, while others are strict about offering only one service plan. The two most popular are:
Time And Materials (Hourly)
In the industry, we call this “break-fix” services because the technology company is called to “fix” something when it “breaks” instead of doing regular maintenance and support. These services are typically priced by the hour. The price you pay will vary depending on the provider you choose and the complexity of the problem. Ransomware removal will require a more experienced and skillful tech vs. a simple printer problem.
Under this model, you might be able to negotiate a discount based on buying a block of hours. The scope of work might range from simply resolving a specific problem (like fixing slow WiFi or resolving an e-mail problem) to encompassing a large project like a software upgrade, implementing cyber protections or even an office move. Some companies will offer staff augmentation and placement under this model as well.
Managed Technology Services (MSP, or “Managed Services Provider”)
This is a model where the technology services company, called an MSP, handles everything related to your technology “infrastructure.” That includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- Troubleshooting problems (help desk support).
- Setting up and supporting PCs, tablets, Macs and workstations for new and existing employees, both on-site and remote.
- Installing and setting up applications such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, SharePoint, etc.
- Setting up and managing the security of your network, devices and data to protect against hackers, ransomware and viruses.
- Backing up your data and assisting in recovering it in the event of a disaster.
- Providing a help desk and support team to assist employees with technology issues.
- Setting up and supporting your phone system.
- Monitoring and maintaining the overall health, speed, performance and security of your computer network on a daily basis.
- On boarding and off boarding staff.
In addition to managing your technology, a good MSP will provide you with a road map and budget for necessary projects to further secure your network and improve the stability and availability of critical applications, as well as ensure that your systems are compliant with various data protection laws (HIPAA, FTC Safeguards, PCI, etc.) and that your cyber protections meet the standards on any cyber insurance plan that you have.
The advantage of break-fix services is that you only pay for support when you need it, without being locked into a monthly or multiyear contract. If you’re not happy with the service you’re getting, you can change providers easily. If you’re a microbusiness with only a few employees, very simple technology needs where you don’t experience a lot of problems and don’t host or handle sensitive data (medical records, credit cards, Social Security numbers, etc.), break-fix might be the most cost-effective option for you.
However, the downsides of break-fix services are many, particularly if you’re NOT a microbusiness and/or if you handle sensitive, “protected” data. The five big downsides are as follows:
- Break-fix can be very expensive when you have multiple issues.
Because you’re not a managed client, the company resolving your problem will likely take longer to troubleshoot and fix the issue than if they were regularly maintaining your network and therefore familiar with your environment AND had systems in place to recover files or prevent problems from escalating.
- Paying hourly works entirely in your technology company’s favor, not yours.
Under this model, the consultant can take the liberty of assigning a junior (lower-paid) technician to work on your problem who may take two to three times as long to resolve an issue that a more senior (and more expensive) technician may have resolved in a fraction of the time because there’s no incentive to fix your problems fast. In fact, they’re incentivized to drag it out as long as possible, given that they’re being paid by the hour.
- You are more likely to have major issues.
One of the main reasons businesses choose a managed services provider is to PREVENT major issues from happening. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- You can’t budget for technology services
and, as already explained, could end up paying more in the long run if you have to constantly call for urgent “emergency” support.
- You won’t be a priority for the technology company.
All technology firms prioritize their contract managed clients over break-fix clients. That means you get called back last and fit in when they have availability, so you could be down for days or weeks before they can address your problem.
As with any business decision, having the best information allows you to make strategic and confident decisions. We would be happy to provide you with a no obligation assessment of your current technology AT NO CHARGE TO YOU.