Which IT Services Are Right for Your Business
When you need help with your business’ IT staff, choosing among the paid services can be bewildering. There are three categories to consider: on-call, remote desktop and managed IT service. (Some support companies may sell more than one of these.) Here’s a basic rundown of each, and what differentiates them.
On-Call IT Services
Speaking with an expert in a certain application that your business relies on can be helpful. Many such support companies specialize in popular applications such as the Microsoft Office suite. Many software companies also sell support for their products. Adobe and Microsoft are two who make extra money selling you their help.
Other on-call support services specialize in dealing with hardware. A technician can visit your office to diagnose your PC or other computer hardware. (They can check your network equipment, printer, etc.) Geek Squad would be an example of this.
What’s good: Human interaction — you speak to a person, who talks you through your issue or visits your office. This can be ideal if small businesses that lack expert IT staffers.
Caveat: Paying for help on a per-call basis if you only have problems a few times per year may be cost effective. But if it’s more than that, it may be better to subscribe to monthly or yearly plan with the support company.
You let a support company connect to your PC over the internet. The support tech can then perform such tasks as updating software, or checking the computer’s security for you. (An on-call technical support company may also offer remote desktop.)
What’s good: In many cases, you don’t need to talk to a support person on a voice call. The remote technician works on your PC as if they were sitting in front of it. Potentially you'll learn a few things by watching how they work.
Caveat: The remote technician can fix some hardware problems by updating drivers. But they don’t actually visit you in person, so they’re limited when it comes to diagnosing hardware problems.
Managed service providers (MSP) sell far more extensive remote desktop support. They can be capable enough to serve in place of an in-house IT staff. Even if your business has IT employees, hiring an MSP can assist them with their job. An MSP can be a major firm such as Accenture, or from a much smaller outfit in your local area.
What’s good: MSP personnel continually update your systems' software and network. They also look out for potential security threats. The idea is to avoid the “break/fix” model. That’s when you contact somebody only when something goes wrong. A good MSP takes routine measures to prevent anything bad happening to your business’ IT. And if something goes wrong, you should hardly notice an interruption as they fix things.
Many MSPs offer backup of your business’ data to the cloud on their servers. This can be a lifesaver if something goes wrong with your PC or on-site network. If it gets hacked by malware, or ransomware hijacks it, the MSP can then restore your data.
Caveat: Most Managed service providers don't sell on-site service to inspect your hardware in your office. They base their business model on the cloud and remote access.