When you're choosing what type of IT support to take on for your business, it can be tricky to determine exactly what level of support you need. I'll attempt to outline the benefits and drawbacks of both services to help you determine what level of service you need and thus what you should aim for with IT support.
Managed IT support is for those companies who want the feeling of an entire IT infrastructure without paying the high cost of maintaining all of those employees in house. If you go with this plan, you'll have everything you could ever require from an IT support team. You should receive regular reports on your systems' uptime and performance, fast response time to your office whenever there is a problem, maintenance performed regularly on your systems without disrupting your business, and automated and manual software and hardware updates. On the personal side of the business, you should receive your own account manager, so you know where to go for help if you need it, regular documentation and reporting, and easy access to a help desk so smaller problems can be solved as and when they need doing. For larger companies, this type of IT support is really essential. If you want a whole IT department with all of the skills that your IT company can bring to the table, this is the route for you.
Another option for particularly tiny businesses or for those who just occasionally need support is a more flexible support system. This type of pay as you go IT support is becoming more and more common. Essentially, you'll still be responsible for most day to day maintenance of your systems, including routine upgrades and maintenance, because otherwise the plan would not be particularly cost-effective. When you need more intensive IT support, you then call on your IT company for the additional; if it's urgent, you can call them out more swiftly for more money. This is best for small companies, as in less than five people, as regular maintenance and backups can be most easily maintained by the team with some help, or for larger companies that already have a few employees on board and need minor amounts of support for large, seasonal projects or for emergency use. You should also be able to hire IT support for one-time projects, such as phone installations, and then use this option to retain them in case of emergencies with those particular systems.
IT support doesn't have to be expensive. You don't have to wait on hold for hours while your business melts down because your servers have failed and you can't do business. Instead, IT support can function as another arm of your company, one which is essential for your business to keep running as best it can but which doesn't hinder you or slow you down. The two different "speeds" of IT support means that whatever you can afford, it can truly fit your needs as they arise. As long as you carefully investigate your chosen IT support company, you'll find that the rewards can outweigh the costs.