What the difference between IT support and Managed Services?


Why is my IT support not proactive?

Whether you are looking to procure an outsourced IT company or looking to set up your own IT department, it’s important to know and understand the key differences between IT support and Managed Services.

Ultimately they are the same thing – right?

Well actually there is a big difference between the 2.That difference starts with one of the main frustrations that a lot of businesses face with IT – in a word its ‘proactive’.

I often hear people say “I want my IT service to be more proactive.”

“Ah,” I say, “that’s where a managed service comes in.”

IT support is fixing IT issues as they occur. It’s your simple, on hand service which will suite either a small start-up or SOHO business where they just want someone how can repair their computer or software when it goes wrong. It’s the person you call when you can’t get into your emails who can talk you through the process.

If you are not reliant on IT to produce your output or don’t need IT to work smoothly to ensure your business can grow, then IT support is probably just fine.

So what’s the problem with this – well nothing really, but as a business grows and as it becomes more reliant on its IT systems, the more problems those systems have, the greater the cost to the business. By cost I mean the 2 things, the cost to resolve the IT problem, and the cost to the business for the staff time where they are unable to work.

You’ll start to find yourself asking – “why can’t IT be more proactive?”

The reason is – they don’t have the tools. They cannot tell when your computers is going to break unless they have some way of monitoring and understanding the information centrally.

This is where a managed service comes in. Quite simply a managed service is IT support aided by the use of a management and monitoring platform, to check for issues before your staff are even aware they are happening.

The management and monitoring platform is designed to keep a constant ‘eye’ on anything it monitors for a pre-defined set of rules. These rules typically cover things like errors, warnings, disc space, etc.

The management and monitoring system should be able to manage and monitor the following:

  • Computer & Server Health
  • Uptime (i.e. if any servers were down) and other metrics
  • System Performance (if someone’s computer is running slowly)
  • Hardware Inventory
  • Software Inventory
  • Software Updates / System Updates
  • Pro-active maintenance

A correctly configured system will be able to detect that your servers are going to run out of disk space before they do, understand that errors have been detected in one of your computers’ logs, in fact anything that has started going wrong which, in time, will cause your business downtime.

Uptime is the measure of how long your computer has been working and available for over the given measure of time. This is a handy metric but only 1 of the many that should be available to you. For instance you can see how many times a piece of software has been installed, how many computers are currently logged in – in fact anything you want to measure.

System Performance is also a measure but it deserves it’s own paragraph as it’s going to be the primary window into how well your IT devices are working. It’s like the engine warning light on your car dashboard which tells you that something is wrong. Your Managed Service Provider should then be able to tell you what is wrong and how they can fix it.

Hardware and Software Inventory is now a standard feature of management and monitoring systems and will allow you to understand what equipment you have, how old it is and what software is installed on it.

Now let’s talk about updates, 10 years ago updates were just fixes in minor problems, now these updates should be considered business critical. They are the first line of defence against cyber criminals and if you are not managing the installation and deployment of them, if even 1 machine is not fully up to date, then the risk of hacking is very real.

Central management of updates is a critical component of any managed service. That is not only ensuring updates are applied but also that they can be reported on.

Then there should be some sort of proactive maintenance, the things like cleaning temp files and cleaning up disk space. These are the tasks that your “IT Support” service would probably do as their first job in diagnosing or fixing a problem. Well a managed service should be doing these before they even become part of the equation. That way you will experience better performance and less downtime. These simple tasks should all be automated – that’s what computers do best.

Then there are the issues that aren’t simple, that aren’t just a restart or a software re-install. The management of these ‘deeper’ and more complex problems has to be done correctly, plans to fix the issues including diagnosis, how to resolve and how to test all need to be part of the service.

Your managed service provider should also be able to provide you with a customer portal. This should allow you to see all your devices, any alerts, tickets, update health etc.

Wrap that all up with a regular IT / business meeting to go over the insights, align the IT with the business and plan for the future and you have a managed service.

But there is more, because once you start to gain insight into your IT systems you can also start to gain a deeper insight into your staff productivity and how to improve it. In most businesses staff is the number 1 cost, so making them even 1% more productive will save your company thousands.

I have written a whitepaper on this subject, email us at sales@computerc.co.uk to request a copy.