IT Support Blog for Small Business Owners

Advantages of Proactive IT Support vs. Reactive Break/Fix Service

Posted by David S. Mulvey on Sat, Oct 12, 2013

Reactive vs. Proactive IT SupportMaintaining a well-performing, predictably available IT infrastructure for your company is obviously important.  Access to your business applications, customer data, and your financial information are critical for the success of your business.  If the computers and other IT hardware that deliver access to that information for you, your employees, and your customers fail, it will negatively impact your business.  Customers and employees become frustrated, and your bottom line suffers anytime you have IT problems or outages.

The truth is that avoiding IT issues is only possible if you are proactively monitoring your IT hardware.  Staying ahead of potential problems, and correcting issues before they ultimately result in outages, is the key to maintaining availability and performance.  The concept here is truly no different than engaging in regular, proactive, and disciplined checkups…just like we do with other items in our lives.

We go to the doctor for regular checkups with the hope that if a symptom of a medical problem is detected, something can be prescribed to remedy the situation before a major medical issue occurs.  We bring our car in for regular maintenance, changing the oil, checking engine fluids, and checking performance of the vehicle with the hope of avoiding a major breakdown on the road, or a major mechanical problem. 

In both of these cases, a lack of scheduled checkups or maintenance, “reactive management” if you will, could lead to serious problems: a heart attack can result from undetected high-blood pressure, or a clogged artery that could have been easily detected and rectified ahead of time; low oil levels, or dirty transmission fluid which could lead to a vehicle breakdown, could have been easily addressed ahead of time.  And the resulting “cost” of addressing these issues without taking the disciplined proactive steps, could be astronomical: a major heart attack or a blown engine is nothing anyone wants to experience...and though these “real costs may be difficult to quantify, we all know they are significant”.

The same theory applies to IT.  There are “technical” things that can be done, “proactively” in the background, which will identify potential problems….much like regular scheduled checkups or maintenance.  Those technical things can in many instances correct the problem, or at the very least, tell you what needs to be done in order to rectify the issue and avoid an outage.  Things like disk drives that are performing poorly, and if not addressed, will fail.  

Viruses that are detected, can be removed; new viruses that have been identified in the market place, that your infrastructure can be protected from ahead of time so they never become an issue.  Conditions in back-up routines that indicate a future failed back-up; computer processors that are being overburdened or are aging, that will ultimately fail.  Events like these, and many others, can be proactively managed and addressed by an IT support provider, so an end-user or customer has a much higher likelihood of not facing a “hard down” outage.

The difference with IT, however, is that this can only be done effectively if the infrastructure is being monitored and managed twenty-four hours a day.  IT hardware is susceptible and vulnerable around the clock…conditions are just that dynamic.  Someone, or more specifically something, like IT management tools, should be looking at your IT hardware all the time to give you the best opportunity to avoid any downtime for your business.  IT outages are much less likely, and much less painful from a business perspective, if potential problems are addressed ahead of time, rather than when a complete failure occurs. 

We all know that when an outage occurs, it’s too late.  That’s when the fire drill begins, and there is panic to get a vendor out immediately to fix something…often times something you are not even sure what it is…and what if a replacement part is required, and it’s not immediately available.  Employees are aggravated with their inability to do their job.  And most importantly, customers may be impacted negatively…orders may be lost, and your reputation may be put at risk in your specific market place.

Needless to say, when there is an IT outage, the pain is an acute…a heart attack or a blown engine if you will…and though these “real costs may be difficult to quantify, we all know they are significant”.  Taking a proactive approach to your IT support is far less costly than a reactive wait and see approach to IT support.  A first step to becoming proactive with your IT is requesting a free network assessment, its like a health fitness exam for your IT infrastructure.

 Request A Network Assessment


Topics: IT Support, Business IT, Break Fix, IT Outsourcing, Time & Materials

IT Support Graduates From The Traditional Time and Materials Approach

Posted by David S. Mulvey on Fri, Jun 21, 2013

Time and Materials Contract for ITThere's new way for CEOs and business owners to purchase IT support that's faster, better and less expensive than the old time and materials approach.

It’s called Selective IT Outsourcing, or sometimes referred to as managed services, where you negotiate a fixed fee per month based upon the number of workstations, servers and printers that you have in your company.  For this fixed fee you get a specific set of written IT recurring deliverables that insures your IT infrastructure becomes reliable. 

Instead of the reactive time and materials approach, now your IT service provider proactively works on everything in your IT network to ensure nothing ever breaks! 

Imagine an IT company where you never have to tell them to fix anything, they just go and do it, and they do it faster than trying to do it yourself. Your employees are happier (and more productive) and you never have to deal with the financial and technical uncertainty from the time and materials approach.

If we look at this from the business owner or CEO's perspective Selective IT Outsourcing allows you and your IT provider to both be working on the same team. Now the support your IT services firm provides becomes so proactive that neither you never have to worry about any service issues or any increases in expenses related to supporting your business.

Both you as the owner and the IT outsourcer are working together in tandem for the same result: your company has an excellent IT infrastructure that requires virtually no unplanned support. Your employees are happy and they are highly productive because all of your IT assets are working. Best of all you are enjoying a fixed fee engagement that is far less than hiring and doing IT yourself! 

While we know you only care about the business owner's perspective, it might be interesting to see how this fixed fee approach benefits firms like ANP and how in the end, that benefit actually comes back to helping you and your business.  

So let’s look at this new approach of Selective IT Outsourcing from the IT company's perspective: There is no longer wild revenue variation every month because all of their billing is fixed fee and recurring. 

Now they hire the most talented and expensive engineers they can find—why? Because they are incented on a fixed fee basis to get your IT infrastructure to run at its absolute best and that only happens with the best engineers working on it.

As a business owner, CEO or decision maker you want to look for IT services firms who offer this fixed fee model not because they hire the best people, but because by hiring the best people you get the best level of service for your business.

As a way to compare the old and the new model, let me pull back the curtain and show the inner workings of an IT services firm. In the old Break/Fix IT model your IT support vendor was actually incented to ONLY deal with the surface issues. If they went deeper the expenses could become significant from a time and materials perspective, so most of the time, support teams simple made the problem go away, instead of fixing it for good.

In the new model, your IT team is incented to keep all your laptops, networks, systems software and hardware running at peak performance! Since you don't incur additional costs if issues crop up, its in their best interest to proactively keep issues to a minimum. The IT provider is more profitable if they are able to keep your network running so well they don’t have to invest in additional unforeseen labor.

While most IT providers probably don't want you to know or even understand the behind the scenes at their firms. ANP is different. Our goals are your goals. To have your business run smoothly and for us to working, every day, to ensure your network, equipment and software are constantly running predictably and smoothly.

7 Signs Its Time Computer Support

Advanced Network Products - Delivering IT Peace of Mind

Topics: IT Support, Break Fix, IT Outsourcing, IT Services, Outsourced IT, Managed Services, Managed IT

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