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Ad-hoc computer repairs cost money in the long run. Do this instead.

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2018 and filed under

Emma opens her laptop computer from her office desk every morning and checks on the status of materials that are scheduled to be delivered to various job sites around the city. Her job as a small business owner in construction involves scheduling crews at sites where they have everything needed to get the job done.

Without the oversight provided by various technology solutions — fleet tracking, project management software, shipment tracking — Emma’s crews could end up waiting on supplies to arrive at a job site, resulting in idle time spent on-the-clock and delayed project completion times. Her morning routine is about making sure she schedules her team for maximum productivity and can communicate with clients accurately about the status of their projects. A day’s profits, or losses, depend heavily on proper scheduling. For example, five hours of idle time for one crew can cost her business up to $5000 in expenses and lost opportunity.

The fictional story of Emma represents the true stories of many business owners today.  Smooth operations need something the IT sector calls “uptime,” which is when all technologies run and perform optimally to support the roles and tasks that depend on them. On the other hand, technology downtime means lost productivity for businesses. And the cost to get back up and running involves more than the cost of standard system repairs; it includes lost opportunity costs and other expenses paid while systems are down.

Uptime and downtime mark the difference between a reliable IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) and a computer repair shop or service.

An on-site computer repair service visits when things have gone awry and is often called during an IT crisis. Once on site, there is limited time to diagnose problems, order hardware or update software if needed, and get a system back up and running so that a business can start up critical operations again. This service is called ‘Ad-Hoc’ support, which is a reactive service and only available when something goes wrong.

IT Managed Service Providers are proactive. And, ideally, meeting with a reliable MSP happens under different circumstances. The goal here is to structure, upgrade or maintain a business’ technology systems with a focus on maximizing uptime. Minimal- to no- repairs-needed is the goal. As well, a reputable MSP will employ people with a variety of technical skills, which means various expertise are applied to strategically helping a business maximize productivity and grow the bottom line while managing risks.

Many small business owners opt for a computer-repair shop approach for the technology they rely upon. The reason for this is because when things are running smoothly it’s difficult to foresee the potential expense of a system-down crisis at work until one happens. Once it does, there’s often a rush to get back up and running so that business can continue as usual. This usually happens at a premium fee and over the long run can be very expensive.

On the other hand, MSPs can appear, at first, like an unnecessary expense. Similar to insurance, paying a monthly fee in the absence of an IT crisis can give the illusion that a service is not needed.

But engaging a managed IT service in strategically planning a business’ technology systems has benefits on top of reliability and uptime.

Prevention, Uptime, and Quick Repairs

First, if something does stop working, a reliable MSP will repair promptly to get a system back up and running just like an on-site computer repair shop. With that said, a reputable MSP will work around the clock to monitor computer systems and prevent downtime in the first place.

Next, should repairs be needed, the cost of many repairs should be included as part of a management service depending on your agreement with a company and the services you employ. Having a controlled monthly budget is much better than a large, unforeseen expense when an emergency happens. As well, an MSP can prepare you with a business continuity solution so that if an emergency does happen, your business can continue working, which reduces lost productivity and revenue.

Thinking Ahead, Strategically

As well, since technologies are constantly evolving, an MSP will be looking into the future, testing new technologies and methods of using them in house, and making recommendations to clients about what is critical for a business, what’s nice-to-have, and what can be foregone. The benefit here is that someone is always thinking ahead so that a business doesn’t have to.

Robust Solutions to Business Problems

 Lastly, an MSP works to align technologies with the strategy and objectives of clients. This includes planning for business continuity in the face of disaster or unforeseeable downtime on-site, which means downtime is minimized along with risk.

Temporary Fixes versus Long-Term Solutions

Repairing a flawed system is a temporary fix. So, while a computer repair service might get an existing system back up and running, MSPs should look at entire systems and address the root cause of issues using a preventative approach. This means businesses have the opportunity to improve IT infrastructure before downtime, when repair costs, business expenses that accumulate during idle time, and lost opportunity take their toll.

To calculate the cost of downtime for your business, check out this tool from NeoLore Networks.

Author Jim Stackhouse is the founder and president of NeoLore Networks Inc., an Ottawa-based technology services company that designs, implements, manages and maintains computer networks for small and medium sized businesses.