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IT Partner vs. Paying Buckets of Hours: Which Do You Need?

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There’s a big difference between paying an IT vendor and having an IT partner. But often, when businesses pay a vendor, they think they’re getting both. In this article, I’ll share why this difference matters and how you can evaluate what you need for your company.

You didn’t come to the decision to outsource IT easily. Increasing competitive pressures and productivity challenges have been weighing you and your company down — financially, emotionally, all of it. You know, a lot of it comes down to technology inefficiencies.

You’re worried that you’re losing customers each year and struggling to retain loyal employees with outdated technology. But you don’t have the in-house expertise or budget to hire a whole IT department or revamp everything.

Hiring a managed IT company is a smart move in this situation. But there are two distinct ways I see people go about this.

Which One Are You?

Some see technology that works like it’s supposed to as an investment, integral to operations and business success now and growing into the future. These business leaders are looking for a strategic partnership with the IT company — an IT Partner who only succeeds when they do.

The other crowd sees technology as something to fix when it’s broken and keep running when it isn’t. They’re not considering what kind of technology they’ll need to grow into the future. Or they just feel overwhelmed about technology in general that it’s hard to think strategically. Because IT strategic planning isn’t happening, they keep spending more money on short-term technology support and wondering why things aren’t getting better. They usually pay an IT vendor by “buckets of hours.”

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It doesn’t matter which camp you fall into. Sometimes the “bucket of hours” solution works for a business until it doesn’t. That’s when it’s time to move on to something better for your business now and into the future. Here’s why.

1. Better Security with an IT Partner

We’re at a point where cybercriminals are organized and skilled at what they do. These aren’t clumsy random attacks. Some attacks happen behind the scenes. Others are right out in the open. These con artists know what to say to convince an employee to hand over their login or even your money. They know what’s important to your business that you’d pay anything to get back.

What do most victims of these attacks have in common? You guessed it. They don’t have an IT partner watching their back. You have to be proactive and vigilant to prevent these attacks.

We often hear stories of such attacks because people start looking for new IT support when these things happen. After I empathize with what they’ve just gone through, my first question to them is: what does your IT Security strategy look like? The answer usually is there isn’t one because they’re only buying a bucket of 10-20 hours per month.

That’s barely enough to manage their help desk tickets.

Your IT partner knows IT security and your systems. They can help you develop an effective strategy to reduce risk, protect your data, and maintain business operations even if an attack happens. IT security isn’t a one-size-fits-all or a single-faceted solution. We can help you address the whole security picture and give you peace of mind you’re protected.

2. We Only Succeed When You Do

A dedicated IT partner will focus on improving your overall IT experience — targeting inefficiencies and enhancing productivity. We work to improve the return on investment technology delivers, and that ROI keeps going up yearly.

That doesn’t happen with transactional and fixed support bucket hours. You’ll always have something to fix if you’re not strategically looking at why technology keeps breaking.

I know a bucket of support hours may look tempting. How affordable it appears on the surface! But as you spend those hours on duct tape fixes instead of long-term improvements, the more IT costs your business in the long run.

3. A Successful IT Strategy

No IT strategy or roadmap is included in a bucket of hours. A 10-hour bucket of hours provides enough time for IT to fix end-user problems but not enough for IT to become a strategic partner.

They will not be able to plan and implement the systematic changes your business could require for long-term, efficient uptime.

4. Expertise & Familiarity

An IT partner ensures you have access to their most experienced team members, so issues are resolved quickly and permanently.

Without a dedicated IT partner, you’ll get the most junior-level support possible rather than the strategic support your company probably needs. An IT vendor that gets paid with buckets of hours isn’t incentivized to make their experts available to you. They’re also running a business, and their business model is to get you to spend more while they do less.

Complex issues will take longer to resolve and eat up the limited time allotted to your support bucket.  And junior-level support also means more time required to solve even simple user problems, thus eating up your allotted time — with less to show for it.

I say, don’t send a junior to do in a day what it would take an expert to do in 30 minutes.

An IT partner will be more familiar with your firm’s IT structure, system, and workflow. We focus our time on learning them inside and out, becoming experts in your business’ technology.

As a result, we’re better equipped to troubleshoot and resolve any technical issues in a trustworthy, time-efficient manner.

5. Competitive Advantage

No doubt about it. Better, more efficient IT is a competitive advantage. You understand and can deliver what your employees need to do the best job possible. Customers can tell the difference, and so can your bottom line.

Opting for a bucket of hours may be an indication there’s a misunderstanding that IT is a necessary evil instead of a strategic advantage. Every company must have IT, but given the leaps and bounds of technology year to year, surely you should be getting more out of technology than a basic network and infrastructure and support with resetting passwords.

Dare I say it; every business needs to be a tech business to some degree. This is nothing new. A carpenter needs a hammer to be an effective carpenter. A hammer isn’t an afterthought. It’s a part of the profession.

All businesses today depend on technology to manage data, communications, storage, finance, logistics, security, and more. An IT partner makes sure it works for you.

6. Standardization & Efficiency

A strategic plan delivers efficiency, standardization, and scalability, so you’re poised to grow.

You can’t get that with a bucket of hours that only focuses on keeping things running, not on how well they run.

For example, can you say without a doubt that every machine deployed has whole disk encryption installed, antivirus installed, and up-to-date and all relevant patches installed? If you’ve had a security breach, chances are this type of standardization is missing.

7. Reporting, Metric Remediation, IT Partner Scorecard 

Have you afforded your IT team the necessary time (i.e., budget) to spend time remediating issues with antivirus, patching, and other proactive tasks?  These cut-rate bucket of hours plans don’t normally come with an option to get clear reporting on system health.

We provide you with transparent, automated reporting that shows you how well your technology is performing. These become our grading system. If your technology isn’t working, we fail. When your tech works like it’s supposed to, we succeed.

8. Straightforward Pricing: IT Partner Vs. IT Vendor

When you’re vetting IT vendors, the number of different pricing plans and support packages available today is nothing short of overwhelming. But often you don’t realize until after you get the invoice in accounts payable what your real costs will be.

You think you know what you’ll pay upfront. But pricing is unclear and uncertain. When you try to keep it budget-friendly with X number of hours in your bucket, the opposite tends to happen.

Paying a Bucket of Money to an IT Vendor

You could pay a limited amount upfront for a certain number or “bucket” of hours to work with a support staff member chosen randomly from a phone queue. You’re paying people by the hour, so they’re incentivized to:

  • Take as long as possible (so they can charge you more)
  • Apply short-term fixes
  • Get you to buy technology that needs a lot of IT support vs. what’s right for you

As a result, you end up with costly downtime, employees and managers pulling their hair out, and customers looking elsewhere. You’re unable to gain traction or feel good about technology in general.

Pricing for Hiring an IT Partner

An IT partner acts more like a business partner. Even though we don’t have an equity stake in your company, we charge you a flat and transparent monthly rate based on an easy-to-understand managed IT pricing structure. You know what you pay up-front for our services, and we don’t bill you for hours.

Because of our value pricing system, we don’t get more money when your technology doesn’t work. We make less. So as your technology partner, we’re incentivized to:

  • Think strategically and long-term about your technology
  • Give you access to the technology expertise you need
  • Help you build a technology plan that works for you
  • Feel our success is tied to your success

The IT partner approach delivers some distinct benefits you don’t get when you pay an IT vendor by the hour.

If you want to learn more about how we apply this to our pricing structure for TenisiTech, watch my video and read more about our pricing.

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