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Managed Services vs Traditional IT Support: Differences

Difference Between Managed Services vs Traditional IT Support Many IT leaders find themselves facing a dilemma - is their current IT support model keeping pace […]

Difference Between Managed Services vs Traditional IT Support

Many IT leaders find themselves facing a dilemma - is their current IT support model keeping pace with evolving business needs? This is an important question to regularly revisit. More and more companies are adopting cloud, cognitive, and AI technologies. They want to reduce capital expenditures, offload management and updates, and strengthen disaster recovery. 

Meanwhile, cognitive service management and AI offer gains in productivity, cost-efficiency, and accuracy. Having the right resources and training for end-user support significantly impacts downtime, scalability, and deploying new technologies. This blog explains managed services vs traditional IT support.

Managed Services vs Traditional IT Support Differences

Managed Services vs Traditional IT Support Differences

The Breakdown of Traditional IT Support

So what exactly constitutes "traditional IT support"? This type of support is commonly known as break-fix support. If issues arise, users notify the help desk and then wait for a resolution. This could mean waiting until IT staff returns to the office if support is limited to business hours.

Traditional IT support can be provided in-house or outsourced. Smaller businesses often handle support in-house to avoid the investment of outsourcing. Medium and larger companies may also keep support internal if they are not technology-focused or if systems do not require 24/7 availability.

  • Traditional support solves many problems. For companies with:
    • Straightforward, unchanging needs
    • Minimal customization
    • It can be a good choice. It also works well for complex custom applications that do not require:
    • Regular upgrades
    • Specialized skills

However, traditional IT support has some notable drawbacks that companies should consider:

  • Lack of scalability - Adding more in-house staff to meet growing demand can be costly and inefficient. Outsourced contracts may limit flexibility.
  • Limited expertise - Generalists may struggle with complex issues. Knowledge is lost when staff leave.
  • No guarantee of issue resolution times - Problems may persist for lengthy periods when relying on a small in-house team.
  • Reactive model - Issues must occur before being addressed, leading to unpredictable disruptions.
  • Minimal monitoring and analytics - It is harder to optimize performance without proactive oversight.
  • Limited availability - No after-hours support without significant staffing investment.
  • Training and upskilling costs - Maintaining expertise across multiple applications is challenging.

For organizations that need guaranteed response times, specialized skills, scalability, and analytics, traditional support quickly shows its limitations.

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The Promise of Managed Services

Managed services (MS) provide IT support via a third party, covering some or all applications. A key difference from traditional support is that MS delivers "always-on" coverage. Options range from business hours to 24/7 support. It's also a scalable model, letting customers add solutions as needs grow. Rather than waiting to fix issues, MS Teams proactively identify and address potential disruptions.

  • MS leverages pools of experts specific to each application supported. This means you always have access to the latest skills without paying for unnecessary staff.
  • It also reduces employee training and upskilling costs compared to traditional in-house support.

MS is governed by contractual service level agreements (SLAs) covering responsiveness and resolution times. You can ensure continuity of availability, customizations, and integrations while selecting response times based on issue severity. MS also provides governance through regular reporting on application performance and support team KPIs. This data helps identify areas for improvement.

Additional benefits of managed IT services:

  • Improved security - Regular patching and updates better protect against vulnerabilities.
  • Increased uptime - Around-the-clock monitoring minimizes downtime.
  • Enhanced efficiency - Automation and advanced analytics boost optimization.
  • Reduced costs - No need to train and retain specialized staff.
  • Better adoption - Change management guidance promotes user adoption.
  • Proactive maintenance - Potential issues are addressed before causing disruptions.
  • Ongoing innovation - Regular feature upgrades and new capabilities.
  • Strategic alignment - Roadmaps keep solutions tailored to business goals.

For organizations wanting to leverage the latest technology while minimizing risks, managed services deliver immense advantages over traditional models.

Comparing Pricing Models of managed services vs Traditional IT Support

  • Outsourced traditional support involves purchasing blocks of hours or an annual subscription fee. This is usually an all-or-nothing model, regardless of actual usage.
  • In-house traditional support requires carrying salary, benefits, and training costs for staff. The median base salary for a computer support specialist is around $50,980 per year, with total costs approaching $65,000-$70,000.
  • Managed services often have a fixed fee model over a defined term, enabling predictable budgeting and cost management. For a medium-sized company's 3-year ITSM engagement, managed services can cost up to 40% less than traditional in-house support.
  • MS is also delivered via an efficient global remote model.

To understand the cost of managed services vs traditional IT supports, let's examine a scenario for a 250-employee company with two key applications:

  • Traditional in-house support would require 2 IT specialists at $70,000 each = $140,000 annually
  • Outsourced traditional support could be $120,000 per year
  • Managed services for the same applications would be around $85,000 per year

The managed services model provides specialized expertise at a significantly lower cost point. Scaling to additional applications follows the same pattern. Companies avoid investing in more IT staff and upskilling.

There are also hidden costs to factor with traditional support:

  • Productivity losses from increased downtime
  • Revenue impact of security breaches
  • Inability to leverage new technologies

Avoiding these pitfalls makes managed services even more cost-effective in the long term.

Finding the Right Fit for Managed Services vs Traditional IT Support

When choosing between support models, first examine the pros and cons and identify pain points. Here's a comparison of managed services vs traditional IT support.:

Also, consider key pain points related to current IT services:

  • Application vulnerabilities: Many organizations cannot keep pace with required security patches. MS proactively secures applications.
  • Underutilized applications: This signals poor performance or lack of training. It ties back to service availability.
  • Poor adoption of new applications: Often due to inadequate training or change management. MS providers implement comprehensive service and support.
  • Performance gaps: Can result from insufficient monitoring or delayed upgrades. MS ensures these activities are performed properly and on time.
  • Productivity loss from downtime: As above, proper monitoring and maintenance greatly reduce downtime.
  • Inability to train staff: A major factor leading companies to MS to avoid these costs.

Here are a few scenarios illustrating when each model of managed services vs traditional IT support tends to be the better fit:

Managed services make sense when:

  • Your IT landscape is complex with multiple mission-critical applications.
  • You want to implement new technologies like AI quickly and effectively.
  • Your staff lacks specialized expertise needed for an application.
  • Your business depends on maximum uptime and fast issue resolution.

Traditional support works better if:

  • You have a relatively simple, stable IT environment.
  • You have a large internal team with broad expertise.
  • Your applications only require basic maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Your systems can tolerate more downtime without impacting revenue.

As you evaluate your unique needs, keep these profiles in mind. For most growing companies adopting new technologies, managed services emerge as the ideal choice.

If your organization is experiencing service gaps, inability to innovate, or unplanned downtime, it's time to reevaluate your landscape and explore which option best fits your needs.

Managed services vs traditional IT support, both have their place. Traditional support works for smaller, stable environments without complex IT. However, to minimize risk and fix issues proactively, managed services are typically the smart choice for scaling organizations. Take stock of your pain points and each model's strengths to make the best decision for your business. With the right IT support partner, you can bridge gaps in service quality and availability to enable growth.

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