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Four Methods to Manage IT


We often encounter a variety of approaches when it comes to handling IT Support in an organization. Each approach has its pros and cons, with its own set of risks and costs.

I am going to briefly describe what we’ve seen over the years at BrightWire and will also explain why I believe a formal outsourced IT Management approach has strong advantages in most scenarios.

I will also show how to evaluate where your organization may be in terms of “IT Maturity” and how to plan for a change when necessary.

Method 1: The Office Manager

You know who you are! You run the show and the place would collapse without your management oversight. IT is just one of the many responsibilities in your day, and there’s never enough time to get everything done. You prioritize your day like no one else, delegate what you can, and brute force the rest until 6pm or later. Rinse, wash repeat.

You’ve considered finding someone to deal with nagging IT issues, checking the backups and updating the anti-virus; oh, and how to get everything upgraded before Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows 7 next January (What? Windows 7 is going away!).

You’ve done your research and decided to hire a part-time IT staffer. She just earned an IT certificate and seems motivated and smart. Besides, she can help with a lot of other tasks when she has downtime (pardon the pun) in the IT department.

Method 2:The Part-Time IT Staffer

So, Julie’s been working now for 6 months doing a great job! She’s tackling all the IT issues and suggesting improvements. Thankfully she noticed the backups had been failing for 3 months prior to her start date and got that problem corrected. When she’s not helping staff with printer issues, she is helping you with many of the reports you rarely have time to generate. Plus, she’s only costing you minimum wage + benefits, which is barely over $32K in Washington state!

Method 3: The Break Fix IT Guy

Well, that was too good to last. Julie found a full-time job with this huge civil engineering firm up in Tacoma in their IT division. Now she’s making $55K base + an amazing benefit package. Tough to compete with that. Now what to do?

In your research a few months ago, you found a small IT company right here in town that’s been around for a while – they even had a clever name: Bits & Bytes to Go. You passed on them the first time because they were incredibly expensive – who can afford $100 an hour? You could barely afford Julie at less than $20 an hour!  You give them a call and agree to meet with Mike.

Mike comes to your office to look at your computers and it turns out Mike is the owner and he does all the IT work for all ofhis customers. He’s a busy guy, but he’s got lots of experience. He’s got some recommendations, and they seem reasonable. “First all, you have 18 Windows 7 computers;I can replace them and set them up for $12k but we only have until January to get this done. I charge $100 an hour, so just call me when you have problems – I can fix anything given enough time. Oh, and I installed the latest free version of the anti-virus I use. Why would you want to pay for anti-virus? IT Security should be free!”

Well, now it’s February 2020 and Bits & Bytes to Go just needs to go. Mike was great at first, but the PC replacement ended up costing $21K and it’s still not finished! Mike had lots of problems getting your most important business programs working properly, and that added to the cost and frustrated your team. He was so overworked with other customers that it would take almost a week for him to show up to fix something, and everything was so expensive! “Why should I pay $500 to fix the printer he ‘fixed’ last time?I could have bought a new printer for less than that!” you thought. “Finally, that virus that got past the ‘free’ anti-virus, took out the payroll system and I barely got the checks written in time. What other options are there? I don’t want to do this myself!”

Method 4: The Managed IT Services Provider

There’s a reason the Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) approach is saved for last! It’s the culmination of about 25 years of development in the outsourced IT industry. It’s also the most difficult to do well. However, when performed by an experienced, competent MSP, there are numerous benefits for both the client, and the MSP.

4 methods

Here are the primary advantages:

Flat Fee Service: Ensures goal alignment for both Client and Service Provider and creates a partnership. It is in the Service Provider’s best interest to keep all systems running as smoothly as possible to prevent issues from happening in the first place or prevent issues from reoccurring again.  This ultimately results in fewer issues, less downtime and increased employee productivity.

Proactive Support:Essentially, this model allows the IT service provider to act more like a true internal IT organization for the client.  It leaves them to do their jobs best and leaves the client to its own core business without having to worry about their technology. This is the exact opposite of the traditional “Break Fix IT Guy” model, where there is very little if any proactive plan.

Superior Capability: A well run MSP runs circles around a single IT resource and typically even a small IT Group. A team of techs can be allocated quickly to resolve any issue and escalate if problems persist. The breadth of knowledge across a team of IT professionals means the exact resource is assigned efficiently and effectively saving cost for everyone.

And Finally,

Lower Cost: Yes! Often the perception is Managed IT Services is more expensive than any of the other Four Methods to Manage IT, but this is demonstrably FALSE! Because the Managed IT Services Provider is fully responsible for the client IT environment, a reputable well-run firm will invest literally hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in security systems, tools, and staff training, to manage and protect their client networks. This cost gets included in the price of services, but in each of the other Four Methods, this investment cost is almost always missing, or severely deficient. The reality is that a thorough and correct cost analysis will reveal that Managed IT Services cost significantly less than that of any other method, or at least reflects the true hidden costs that are all too often left out.

In the example of Method 2: The Part-Time IT Staffer, Julie costs your company roughly $32K to support 18 staff. But she had little or none of the training or tools to perform the job properly. A competent Managed IT Services company would fully support the same environment for less cost, with a reduction of risk, and vastly superior results.

In the example of Method 3: The Break Fix IT Guy, Mike is a quickly overwhelmed and lacks the ability to respond, which ultimately creates havoc for his customers. What’s worse, he has no time to stay current in the industry and relies mostly on what he knows from 5 or 10 years of experience, like installing “Free” anti-virus. He trades dollars for his time but fails to deliver valuable results to his customers. He doesn’t understand that “saving his customers” money often ends up costing them far more in lost opportunity and frustration in their business.

Managed IT Services Providers solve many of these IT industry problems, by covering all the bases in IT support. But all the security systems, tools, and staff resources employed by a top-notch MSP are merely minimum standards in today’s business world.

The best IT MSPs provide consistent value to their clients, by minimizing cost, and disruption and creating a frictionless environment that allows the business to thrive.

If this is of interest toyou and you are ready to take action to learn more about your organization’s current IT Management Method, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. The BrightWire Team is here to help you succeed!


Todd Whitley


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