If “DIY” is your thing, Pinterest has enough inspiration in the form of repurposed beer bottles, Sharpie markers, and baking soda to keep you entertained (and probably defeated) for days on end. But if you’re a company with real goals and objectives in mind, we’ve got a strong warning against an unwise but not uncommon form of DIY: business IT.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t actually do it; I have people who help.” Listen up, though: having a “tech savvy friend” or hourly consultant nibble at the edges of your IT work on an “as needed” basis doesn’t count as having a managed IT service provider. It does, however, count as not taking a crucial element of your business seriously enough. Being successful means leveraging technology, not just having it around. And if you’re a technical business to start with, don’t let your precious engineers—who were likely hired to help generate revenue—spend their time setting up email accounts. Even existing IT-oriented staff are likely better utilized when they pivot their focus to strategic and workflow-related projects. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the problems with IT DIY and how managed IT services can radically change the way your business functions for the better.
Without the full attention and devotion they deserve, even the most well-intentioned craft DIYs can go horribly wrong. Still, mildly embarrassing though it may be, a “cupcake fail” doesn’t quite carry the same detriment as a compromised server. Well-managed, sustainable IT isn’t about responding to frantic calls like this when you come in Monday morning and turn on your computer to find a blue screen staring back at you with the infuriating nonchalance of a tailgater’s middle finger.
What managed IT should be about is proactive monitoring, thoughtful design, standardization, and a process that preempts rather than reacts to issues. It’s about disaster protection, layers of backups, and around-the-clock support for employees whose jobs rely on equally-reliable technology. Ad hoc-style IT often not only neglects those crucial elements, but also may force you to hire, retain, and manage technical staff regardless of the actual nature of your business—and yet employees will inevitably have to be pulled away from their real jobs to deal with IT issues as they present themselves anyway. Add to all of this fluctuating monthly costs that give you no sense of your actual budget and you’ve got a lot of uncertainty without much security.
Making the switch to managed IT service is like hiring a whole team to bake “technology cupcakes” for your company while meanwhile, your own team can actually focus on their work. A good managed service provider (we’ll mostly call them MSPs from here on out) will deliver a full support and network management solution at a fixed monthly cost. They’ll also provide phone and email support for users with a short average hold time (ours is 8 seconds) and a helpdesk so local that you can commiserate about this morning’s traffic together. As we mentioned earlier, an MSP takes on your network and systems as their own, monitors them, and addresses potential problems before they become real. Forget about managing network devices and servers on your own and obsessing over threat analysis and security updates—that’s an MSP’s job. The best MSPs are all-inclusive, headache reducing, and quick-to-respond when you need help. When done right, an MSP should mean that your hands are out of the server room and instead wrapped around a grass-fed burger during your well-deserved lunch break.
Still not quite convinced that an MSP is necessary? Maybe the “IT guy” who drops by every now and then (Bob? Is that his name?) is providing the comprehensive solution your business needs—maybe. Chances are, Bob is great at what he does, but his personal skill set can only go so far. He’s also just one person and probably can’t grow at the same rate as your business. As a whole team executing a whole set of service solutions, a good managed service provider will:
- Mitigate risk (the kind that could shut your whole business down)
- Monitor your network and implement standardized design principles
- Protect and backup your precious data on a scheduled basis
- Ensure security and provide patch maintenance
- Enable you to skip the process of finding, hiring, and building a career for technical staff
- Allow your business room to grow because you have one less thing (a very significant thing) to worry about—and they’ll grow with you, too
To start, we’ve been doing this for over 15 years and pioneered the “managed service provider” model in Austin. We do all of the highly-valuable MSP “stuff” mentioned throughout this post—plus a lot more. The tagline you see on our homepage, “Real experts powering your IT. Real people empowering your business,” isn’t just some clever wordplay. It’s what we actually do. Our passions are technical excellence and “human” support (not robotic, not scripted, not detached). Our customer base mostly hinges on referrals from other happy customers.
And our employees? They’re really invested in IT Freedom’s success, partly because they share ownership of the company, partly because they love working here. It goes without saying that our culture is precious to us. We only hire people with whom we actually want to work—and that high standard is palpable to our customers.
When you reach out to IT Freedom as a potential managed service provider, we’ll discuss how managed services can benefit your Austin business (yes, yours, specifically) based on individual needs, goals, and existing network setup. Vent to us about your IT pain points. We won’t tell you how we’ll alleviate them—we’ll tell you how we’ll relieve them.
If you don’t initiate your business’s transition to a managed IT service provider, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. Okay, so that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but do you really want your entire IT infrastructure to function like a failed DIY?