If you’ve ever spent time at a playground, either as a kid or a parent, you’ve recognized that moment when a kid takes a tumble that’s maybe a little too hard. All the adults take a big breath in, one or two spring into action, the rest of the kids might all look to their fallen comrade for direction, but everyone has the same question: What’s gonna happen next? Is this a serious incident or just a scrape? Is she going to pop back up on her own and brush herself off, or will crying ensue and last for a while? Are we talking cartoon bandages or the emergency room?

Whether you’re at recess or at work, different incidents require different kinds of responses. If your company has a managed services partner handling your IT, striking the right balance between remote support and onsite support can be the difference between bringing your agreement in on-budget or breaking the bank.

So, what kind of support options should you look for when you’re choosing a managed services partner? First, it’s important to realize that support isn’t something you might need. Problems are going to creep into any IT environment and having a plan for how you’re going to handle them and minimize downtime is a necessity. Your managed services partner might sell support on a per-hour, block agreement or fixed-fee basis, but as you’re determining the true cost of an agreement, keep in mind that problems aren’t a question of if, but when.

The good news is the  majority of problems your company may face can likely be fixed through remote support. The cost for remote support is lower than an on-site visit because it doesn’t require an engineer to leave the office.  With a good managed services partner, most of the problems you’ll encounter can be handled via remote support.

However, this brings its own set of problems. Because remote support can be used to fix so many problems, figuring out exactly how many support hours you’re going to need over a given period of time can be difficult. Incurring additional hourly charges for support can result in eroding savings gained by using remote support, and block hour agreements only  work when you have a good idea how much support you’ll require. Both block hour and hourly arrangements unfortunately do not address one of the key aspects of why a business seeks out a managed support arrangement to begin with – it’s proactive nature.  When your support needs to include everything from setting up e-mail inboxes to quarantining malware , choosing the right block hour agreement is nearly impossible.

As a result, some managed services providers are taking the guesswork out of the equation by offering packages that include unlimited remote support. At Symplexity we offer unlimited remote support to our SmartSource Pro and SmartSource Elite customers, and we’ve found that having that protection changes the way our customers approach support – they are no longer afraid to call for support because of additional support costs; it’s included. Everyone wins.

Don’t be fooled into thinking remote support (that charges on an hourly or block-hour basis delivered “remotely”) is the same as a mature and well-crafted managed arrangement. In any hourly contract your users will attempt to calculate  the cost of every call, especially if they are told once or twice “don’t call for IT support for every little issue” Maybe your machine feels like it’s running a little off, but is it worth filling out a service ticket? Every business has to control expenses just make sure your IT support position does not create more problems than fixes and at the same time prohibits root problem resolution.  Deciding if a service ticket is worth notifying your provider of is not something you want your end users worrying about – they have their own work decisions to make.

The unlimited remote support agreement removes that roadblock.  In the on-boarding meetings we have with SmartSource Pro and SmartSource Elite clients, there’s one message we want to leave them with – you can call us about anything. If there’s something that might be a problem, we want to hear about it so we can help you decide what the best course of action is.  If it’s something that can be solved remotely (and a lot of things are), we’re happy to take care of that – and it’s already covered in your agreement.

However, there are some problems that can’t be taken care of remotely. Usually, these problems have some hardware component or are pretty extensive. (It’s hard to remote into a machine you need to rebuild.) On-site hours are a little more expensive than remote hours, but because so many problems can be taken care of remotely, figuring out the number of on-site hours you’ll expect to use is a little easier.  If you’re setting up an agreement with a managed service provider, they should be able to help you decide how many hours you’ll need, based on the scope of your environment and your number of users.

The biggest problem with figuring out how many on-site hours you’ll need is the  bigger issues you never see coming. Symplexity uses advancing monitoring techniques to sniff out potential disasters before they happen, but no matter what provider you’re using, fixing big issues can get costly. For this reason, Symplexity offers unlimited onsite support, in addition to unlimited remote support, for our SmartSource Elite customers.

We know it’s not a fit for every customer, but for larger organizations or companies that have advanced support needs, SmartSource Elite can be a life (and budget) saver. A managed services agreement that includes unlimited support takes away the guesswork. Some months you’ll use more hours, some months you’ll use less, but your support budget won’t be a surprise. It’s something you can budget for and plan around, rather than something that makes you cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Whatever your organization’s support needs are, chances are good you’ll be best served by a combination of remote and on-site support hours. If you’d like to learn more about how to protect your company (and protect your budget) contact Symplexity for a free consultation.

Symplexity is Northern Indiana's technology leader. Our highly specialized technology team can help your business make technology headaches a thing of the past. Contact us today to see how Symplexity can be a valued partner for your organization.

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