Managed IT Services vs Reactive Support

by Josh Wilmoth on April 11, 2010

When it comes to supporting your computers and networks, there are generally two ways to go about it.  One model is to proactively manage with Managed IT Services, and the other is to reactively respond with Remote or On Site computer support.  In this article, I’ll be explaining each approach to help you determine the best way to approach day-to-day support for your growing business in such a way that you can actually reduce your computer operating costs.

Each Method Explained

The term “proactively managed” is one that best describes the method in which we can monitor the health and reliability of desktop computers and laptops.  Not only that, we can watch the health of the overall network, including servers and all the devices that route the traffic through your network.  Simply put, proactive management is a way in which we can keep an eye on all the things that matter to your computers and network, like hard drive space, security patches, Windows updates, and so much more.

The proactive part comes in when something on a computer, laptop, server, etc, isn’t quite right.  If a hard drive starts to fail, managed IT services would let you know before it actually happens.  Same goes with anti virus.  Your service provider would be alerted the moment there’s an issue with a virus on the network.  So, imagine having a team working 24 hours a day, watching for things to go wrong, and then springing into action when they do.  All before you will have even noticed something wrong.  That’s managed IT services.

Reactive response, in some cases, can seem like the opposite of proactive.  Reactive response is where everything in the network is not monitored for issues or concerns, and your computer support team only springs into action when there’s a problem.  In reactive response mode, the computer user or users would detect an issue, and then notify the support team, to which the team would go to work to fix the issue after it’s already happened.

That would be because there is no system in place to monitor the network or the computers in the network, because the support team is essentially on-call. Therefore, the remote computer support or on site computer support would be called in “as-needed”.

A Real-World Illustration

To put the two in perspective, think of the proactively managed support as Brinks Home Security.  At Brinks, they monitor your home 24 hours a day. When an alarm gets tripped, for any reason, they call to see if you’re ok.  If you’re not, they dispatch police, fire, or even ambulance to your home for you, so you don’t have to.  Chances are, if your alarm is tripped, and it’s a real emergency, you won’t have time to call police or fire on your own.  The thing to remember is that Brinks is monitoring and is all over it once an alarm goes off.  That is the same as Managed Services.

For reactive response, that would be the police, fire or EMS.  In other words, they don’t watch your home 24 hours a day waiting for a crime to be committed, or for someone to start a fire.  Instead, they wait for your call. And when the call happens, they spring into action.  So, although they’re not there all the time, they are certainly there when you need them.

Which is better for your business?

Both methods of support are viable.  And both can provide your business with a level of comfort that all your computer needs are being taken care of.  However, if we were to look at the business impact of one over the other, it would seem that proactively managed IT services can actually be a cost-saver over reactive support.

Why?  Mostly because with proactively managed IT services, you have the benefit of a fixed cost for your support.   That means that you can receive unlimited monitoring and support for one fixed price, regardless of how much support your business requires.  Therefore, you’re able to contain your technology costs and keep them in line.  An added benefit is that while your computers and network are being monitored for technical issues and security threats 24/7, that means your downtime is significantly reduced.  The reason for that is because most issues can be anticipated and resolved before they even occur.  Therefore, what you have is a reduced cost for your technology combined with the increased reliability, which in turn equates to more productivity for your business.

This doesn’t count out reactive response, however.  It’s still a valuable option for your business.  When you look at how reactive response works, you are only paying for what you need, when you need it.  Meaning that if you don’t feel your company network or computers need much support, then it would make sense to take the reactive response route.  The downside to that, however, is that reactive support usually means there is downtime involved.  When there’s downtime, that might cost your company money in terms of lost revenues while waiting for the computer or server to be brought back online.

Another thing to consider is your costs for maintaining your technology can fluctuate, since there is no telling each month how much or how little support you’ll need.  This is because issues and downtime can’t be anticipated.  The bright side to that, however, is that if you feel your computer support costs are fluctuating too much, you can always switch to a proactively managed option and curb those costs.  But I would suggest you do that only when you’re ready.

Final Analysis

In the end both options can provide your business with support that is superior in every way.  What it really boils down to at this point are your needs.  Do you need 24/7 support and monitoring of your computers and network to detect and resolve issues before they arise, while providing unlimited support to your staff?  Or is it better for you to have the team be on-call for when you need them?

If you’d like to talk it through and would like someone to go over the pros and cons with you, let us know.  We promise you a no-hassle, no-obligation consultation that would help you make the best decision for your business and your bottom line.

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