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Karen Cohen

By: Karen Cohen on July 02, 2022

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Managed IT Support: The Pros & Cons

Managed Services | IT Support

You realize that your business needs IT support. Whether you are looking to supplement your on-site IT staff or fully outsource, you have questions. You need honest answers. That’s where we come in.

At Kelser we are committed to providing the information you need to make the decision that is best for your organization. Rather than try to convince you that we are the only company that can care for your IT, we want to ensure that you work with the provider that is best for you

From our perspective, why waste your time talking about how great we are (although we are pretty great!) when you are looking for honest answers that will help you make your decision?

You may be wondering why we take this approach. It’s different, right? 

Well, the honest answer is that we buy products and services, too. The first thing we do is a comprehensive internet search about the product or service we are looking for. We assume you will do the same thing. 

If you are considering your options for IT support, we think one of the things you’ll want to know is the pros and cons of managed IT.

So, in this article, we promise to be as unbiased as possible and provide just the facts.

By the time you are done reading this article, you’ll have a deep understanding of the pros and cons of managed IT. Based on what you read, you’ll be better prepared to make an informed decision about what kind of IT support is best for you.

What Is Managed IT?

Just to make sure we are all starting with the same understanding, let’s define managed IT. 

Managed IT is a comprehensive, proactive approach to IT. Customers pay a set fee each month. In return, the provider manages the elements of the customer’s network, working to make sure it is available, safe, and secure

What Is Managed IT Not? 

Managed IT is not a “set it and forget it” solution. While hiring an IT provider to manage your network relieves the day-to-day maintenance function, it doesn’t absolve the customer from planning and communicating. 

For example, while a managed IT provider will care and feed the customer’s network, it’s important for the customer to communicate business goals and upcoming actions that could affect the network (including a move to a new site or a significant addition to staff or change to remote vs. on-site workforce). 

Communicating upcoming changes and goals ensures that the IT provider can prepare the network to be ready to support the business before the changes occur.

What Are My Other IT Support Options? 

Another option for IT support is a traditional break/fix model. With this approach, a company hires an IT support organization to respond to issues and fix things as they break. This service is a pay-as-you-go option. 

What Are The Pros Of Managed IT?

There are several advantages of working with a managed IT provider. Here are a few: 

1. Comprehensive Solution

Managed IT provides a comprehensive, proactive solution for your IT network. 

Among the services a managed IT provider may offer are: 

      • Technology Experts & Strategic Planning

Your monthly managed IT package may include the services of technical experts such as a virtual chief information officer (vCIO) and technical alignment manager (TAM) as well as a technical solutions architect and service delivery manager (SDM)

These experts take a proactive approach, providing technical, strategic planning, project management, and budgeting advice to address the unique needs of your IT infrastructure. 

      • Service (or Help) Desk

When users have technical issues they are handled by dedicated support staff. Some providers handle this internally and some outsource it.

      • Managed Servers & Networks

Managed IT providers proactively patch and update servers and networks, keeping them working efficiently and free from bottlenecks, congestion, performance issues, and failures.

      • Disaster Recovery

With managed disaster recovery, your data is backed up properly, verified, and can be restored quickly in the event of a cybersecurity incident or data breach.

      • Managed Workstations With Automated Patching

Automated patching ensures that workstations are kept secure, up-to-date, and working efficiently

The health of your devices is monitored and proactive plans are made for upgrades, replacements, and asset disposition

This approach means security vulnerabilities are closed and updates are applied without downtime

      • Automated Monitoring

Your IT environment is continuously monitored using automated tools and systems. Since the provider is notified of unusual activity, they can react quickly to resolve any issues.

      • Email Support

Email management and support for related technical issues are typically included in managed IT. 

      • Managed DNS-Based Protection

DNS-based (Domain Name Service) protection is part of many managed IT  contracts. This ensures that web addresses you think you are going to are safe and have not been compromised before you get there

It protects against phishing attacks and can keep mobile users safe on and off your local network.

      • Managed Spam Filtering And Protection

Another advantage of managed IT is that it often provides anti-spam filters that check emails against industry-standard and organization-defined criteria for spam and virus controls. 

Incoming and outgoing items that fail these checks are quarantined and not delivered, reducing dangerous and unnecessary email, and preventing your users from distributing malware, spam, and viruses to contacts.

      • Automated Maintenance

Automatic maintenance happens regularly behind the scenes on a schedule, keeping systems up-to-date and minimizing downtime.

      • License Management

Some providers manage all of your licenses seamlessly, leaving you free to manage your business.

      • Managed Anti-Malware

Anti-malware catches attacks that standard antivirus software may miss. It defends before, contains during, and helps remediate after an incident. 

It tracks programs, so you always know exactly what’s running where and when across your endpoints and, if a program suddenly becomes malicious, it alerts the provider.

      • Managed Employee Awareness Training

Some managed IT providers include training so that your team can learn to identify and recognize common threats, how best to protect company information, and the role they play in security. 

Effective employee awareness training can significantly reduce the possibility of your organization becoming a victim of a cybersecurity event.  

      • Proactive 

As mentioned above, managed IT is a proactive approach that helps identify and resolve issues before they become a problem for your users or customers. 

This approach minimizes downtime and ensures that your IT infrastructure is poised to support your business today and in the future. 

      • Broad Skills

While large organizations may have the financial resources to fully staff a comprehensive IT department, this option is increasingly out of reach for a majority of organizations. 

Consider that a solid senior-level engineer with current certifications and relevant experience can earn a six-figure salary.

Many organizations choose to work with a managed IT provider to gain access to a broad range of skilled IT experts at a fraction of the cost they would incur to have these experts on staff. 

      • Uninterrupted Service

With an average turnover rate of 13 percent, it can be difficult to recruit and retain appropriately trained IT experts. With a managed IT provider, the staffing worry goes away

You will constantly be covered with consistent, knowledgeable service, no matter what happens; after all,  the provider’s reputation and livelihood depend on it

      • Predictable Expense  

Rather than wonder (and stress about) how much the latest IT glitch will cost to repair, managed IT is one, fixed cost every month for all of the services included in your agreement. Customers can rest easy knowing that there will be no surprises.

What Are The Cons Of Managed IT?

We get this question a lot, which is why we choose to answer it. Nobody likes surprises and we want to make sure you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision. 

      • Cost

Let’s face it, the cost is always a factor with any purchase, business or personal. That’s why we are addressing it right up front.

Managed IT providers typically charge between $100 and $200 per employee device/computer user per month. For a staff of 10, all of whom use computers to do their work, the cost for managed IT would be approximately $1,000 to $2,000 per month.

(Depending on the condition and age of a customer’s IT infrastructure and devices, there may also be one-time setup fees during the onboarding process as well as for projects that fall outside the scope of the monthly agreement.) 

While that may sound like a lot, many companies choose managed IT when they look at the true overall cost of other IT solutions (including licensing fees, staffing a comprehensive in-house IT staff, and unpredictable service rates). 

And, there is an added intangible benefit of an extra set of experts monitoring the performance and safety of your infrastructure. 

Just as leasing a car provides the advantage of budgeting for a fixed, reliable cost each month, managed IT provides a consistent, reliable, forward-looking IT solution for many organizations. But, it’s not right for everyone!

      • Strategic Alignment

Some managed IT providers don’t take the time to understand your business goals. Instead, they come in acting like they know what’s best for your business without even trying to understand how your business and IT infrastructure are unique.

They sometimes assume they know what’s best for you.  

Before you start working with any IT organization, make sure you ask questions so that you can be sure the organization is a good fit for you.

Nobody wants to invest the time (and money) in forming a partnership that won’t stand the test of time because of a lack of interest in your goals and strategy. 

      • Availability

Your organization may or may not need on-site service. Understand what the IT provider offers in terms of remote and on-site service. This could be a deciding factor for you. 

      • Staying Power

Some IT organizations are so busy looking out for the near term that they forget to focus on their ability to provide long-term service to their customers. 

When vetting providers, make sure you find out how long they have been in business. You want to know that your IT partner will be here for you for years to come. 

      • Security

Security is often a topic of discussion when organizations consider using an external IT provider. While most managed IT providers are very good about keeping your information safe, it only takes one bad apple to ruin things not only for IT providers but also for your business. 

When you are trusting an outside organization with the keys to your kingdom, make sure to ask how they will protect your data. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response. If not, you’ll know that you haven’t met the right provider.

Is Managed IT Right For You?

You are the only one who can decide which type of IT support is right for you. The fact is that both managed IT and break/fix solutions have their place. 

By reading this article, you have a better understanding of what managed IT is all about and are better prepared to decide if it is right for your organization.

You now know what it is, how it works, the pros and cons and even what you can expect to pay!  

Managed IT may not be a good solution for a large organization with a fully staffed IT department. But, some large organizations may decide on a hybrid approach with some internal staff augmented by a managed IT provider.

Small and medium businesses may look for a hybrid solution or may rely on a managed IT provider alone. 

Some organizations with minimal staff and risk may decide that break/fix is the right solution for them. For those with minimal reliance on technology to run their business, the flexibility to wait for solutions, and minimal cybersecurity risk, it can be a solid solution. 

For other businesses with complicated infrastructure, challenging business processes, and even minimal to moderate cybersecurity risks, it may not be enough.  

In the interest of providing information you can use, let me end with a brief caveat. People often used to assume that cyber criminals only targeted large, multinational corporations. That is no longer the case. Make sure you honestly evaluate your cybersecurity risk.

Wondering how to mitigate your cybersecurity risk? Check out this article: Top 3 Cybersecurity Threats For Small Businesses (& How To Stay Safe).

Or, if you’re still not sure if managed IT is right for your organization, take the short quiz below.

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About Karen Cohen

Karen brings unending curiosity to her role as Kelser's Content Manager. If you have a question, she wants to know the answer.

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