How should I pay for IT?

Each year, we see 10 or more small independent computer and IT service companies come and go in the Columbia, SC market.  While the causes are typically due to organization and personnel management, there are typically some problems with pricing models that lead to a poor value for the customer OR a poor value for the vendor depending on which model is used.  With three fairly-standard models, the answer should be obvious, but often is not.

keyboard and change
keyboard and change

Flat Rate     |     On-Call     |     Hybrid

Flat RatePlans, also known as "all-inclusive service", charge the customer a flat monthly or annual rate for service based on the number of machines (PCs, servers, etc.) and the number of users.  These plans often include some type of monitoring of your network AND service calls to fix problems for you.  For example, if you have 10 computers and 1 server and the service provider charges $40.00 per device, then you pay $440.00 per month for monitoring and any service calls that you may have.  Managed Service Monitoring  includes a safety net for security, backup, continuity, and performance.  Here is what you get with Seras:

  • 24/7, Real-Time monitoring of your IT infrastructure
  • Memory usage and management
  • Storage Space Alert System
  • Antivirus Management
  • Application Crash Alerts and Update/Patch Recommendations
  • Loss of connectivity between internet providers, network devices, and more
  • Operating System alerts, updates, patches, and more
  • Error Log, Event, and Update Management
  • Data Backup Monitoring, Validation, and Updates
  • Free Consulting for Design, Builds, and Strategic IT Changes

This monthly monitoring program can help prevent any number of critical operating disasters.  For example, we recently had a customer with a PC that was about to use up all of it's disk space.  If this had happened the PC would have crashed and potentially lost critical data.  Seras was notified of the issue before it happened and we were able to contact the employee and explain that he was not properly saving and storing his data.  Crisis averted.

Pros: 1) annual budgeting, 2) great monthly monitoring program

Flat Rate Plans seem fantastic for peace of mind and budgeting purposes, but the service provider already has their money – what is their motivation to come to your facility and fix a problem?  If you can get them to pick up the phone or respond to an email, then they are technically assisting with a problem – even though their solution is usually to try and make you stop what you are doing and fix it yourself.  For example, an assistant for a local school is dealing with this frustration now.  She calls her service provider because connectivity is lost between several units in a computer lab and instead of being told that a technician is on his way, she is given some ideas to troubleshoot the problem herself.  She has now realized that the service provider already has their money and has no real motivation to hurry out and fix her problem.

The selling point is that “nothing will ever break because we are watching it and will catch problems in advance”.  The problem is that these systems only protect what they can control – not the behavior of employees that cause problems with drivers, viruses, cables, connections, patch connections, switches, routers, or other network components.  When something does goes wrong, good luck trying to get a tech on-site to fix your problem.

Finally, as a business owner, how do I plan for how many problems you are going to have?  I have to inflate the monthly rate that I charge you in order to cover the possibility that you may have time-consuming problems – and you pay for it whether you have the problems or not!

Cons: 1) response times, 2) increased downtime, 3) inflated service fees

On-call Plans create a better dollar value for the customer, but they do not include the benefits of a monitoring program.  On-call means simply, "on call" - your service provider is on call and responds to problems in response to your request for service.  The motivation to provide quick, professional responses is high because the provider does not get their money until you have been serviced.  On-call customers pay a per hour rate for service.  Using the same example, if you have 11 machines in the office with no monthly monitoring to help with problem prevention, you may need 3 hours of service per month.  At a rate of $125 per hour, you end up paying $375.00 per month on average, but you don't have monthly monitoring to go with it.

Pros: 1) fast, professional response times, 2) pay per visit

But what about making sure you are protected 24/7?  We have many on-call customers that feel as though they are small enough to keep an eye on their own system.  When we are there for service calls, our technicians always find expired or doubled antivirus, maxed disk space, poor resource allocation, missing security updates, and many more problems that would be resolved through remote monitoring.

Cons: 1) risk and exposure by excluding monthly monitoring

Hybrid Plans bring these two previous plans together - combining the best of both worlds!  Our most popular service option, the Hybrid Model includes all of the monthly monitoring features provided in the flat rate model, but at a lower rate because we also charge for service calls.  For example, using the previous example, you may be charged $15.00 per unit for the monthly monitoring and $75.00 per hour for service calls.  Monthly monitoring drops hourly visits per month to 2 hours, which puts monthly expenditures at $315.00.  The service provider is now motivated to respond quickly and effectively AND to provide effective remote monitoring for the customer - and at the same time is compensated profitably for both services.  With Seras' commitment to problem resolution, our extensive monitoring program, and ease in communication, your annual cost drops and your overall value skyrockets.

Pros: 1) monthly monitoring, 2) fast response times 3) protection with pay per visit

With no converse effects to either the customer or the service provider, the Hybrid Model is the way of the future for computer and IT support services in nearly all business environments.  For more information or to get quote, contact us today!