There are so many things that can go wrong with the computer network of your business. The incorporation of IT in small businesses definitely came with a wide range of merits, but it is also packed with risks.

For businesses that are run entirely on the computer system, a failure means the entire, or at least a substantial part of your day to day running comes to a standstill. Thus, businesses owners have taken good measures to prevent against such unwarranted and unwelcome hitches, and at a cost. Notably, s substantial amount of money goes into IT services, as a quick look into your business’ financials at the end of every fiscal year would reveal.

The one question that is not asked enough is, do you have to pay that much for IT services? Expenses related to services have to be paid for one way or another, as you might already know. Nonetheless, is the package you are using, be it a full-time IT employee or outsourced services, really beneficial to your growing business? How do they compare to Flat Rate IT services? These network problems, albeit inevitable, can they be to some extent avoidable? Can they be harnessed before they blow up into downtime because downtime is the devil of computer network-based businesses; and that’s where your money goes.

Lack of prevention

Most business owners look at their computer network failures as something that is rare, that may occur once in five years maybe, if at all. You too might look at it as a distant risk, not a present one—In the event that it does happen, as a business owner you will fetch an expert to ‘take a look’ and make it right—Such a dismissive attitude towards the IT needs of a business is what accrues to ridiculous costs of IT services at the end of every year.

What really is downtime?

A significant number of business owners are under the false impression that downtime is that specific time when computers are down and the system is down. It is apparently the only time the seriousness of system failure comes to view. That is where you go wrong. The truth is, without the proper measures, downtime is an everyday occurrence and your business is losing a lot of money.

‘Unseen’ downtime

Every time employees are unable to fully perform due to delays or mishaps caused by technology, that is downtime. The cost of downtime is borne directly by your business. If an employee has to wait 5 minutes more for a slow printer to finish printing, those are five minutes you will dearly pay for eventually, for absolutely nothing.

If on average one of your employees cumulatively loses 20 minutes waiting for slow pages to download, a slow printer, applications to download, a slow workstation to fire up, redo missing documents, that translates to 100 lost minutes every week, or 1 hour 40 minutes. If the employee earns say $18 dollars per hour, that would be $30 lost per week due to technological hitches. In a year your business will have lost $1,560 to this rather obscure downtime. If you have 10 employees, that would be $15,000 of your hard earned cash that would have gone into growing your business lost.

Actual downtime

This is one kind of downtime most businesses relate to, the one more obvious one with employees unable to do anything on their workstations. If your company has 10 employees, each earning 20 dollars per hour, 2 hours of downtime translates to $400. If this happens once every month, that will be almost $4400 in a year. This is without including the repair costs, woe unto you if you are outsourcing IT services that involve billable hours. This can only mean two things; you should invest in preventive measures and affordable IT services in the event the actual downtime happens.

Is a full-time employee the option then?

A full-time employee looks like an attractive idea for your business at this point. Having a person who understands, and is familiar with the technological topography of your organization is an obvious plus. They will conduct runs on a daily basis. They handle IT issues as they arise. Such a person can troubleshoot hitches and counter them before they result in full-blown downtime. And they will be so expensive too.

Having a full -time IT employee means that they are like any other employee in your organization. On average a full-time IT employee will earn between $40,000 – $60,000 per year, that is without including other benefits. This is way more expensive than you will ever have to pay to outsource such services in a year. While big companies might find this reasonable, it makes very little sense if yours is a small, growing business.

Flat Rate IT services

In this case, the flat rate IT services seem like the way to go. Flat rate IT services will require you to pay an agreed amount either monthly or an agreed length of time for IT management services. You will agree on the kind of services you will require from the Flat rate IT service provider and from there settle on a constant fee.

The best way to go is to work with firms that will not just show up when there is a problem to be solved but be there with you every step of the way. The issue is not just having someone to fix the downtime, that is available pretty much every where.

Therefore, the flat rate firms should keep monitoring your network for any problems and fix them before they result into actual downtime, and when the downtime unfortunately occurs, they need to provide onsite services without requiring you to pay more for their services.

Sounds a bit like insurance, right?

Sure, you also pay premiums for insurance constantly and if downtime occurs they can make it up to you. But remember, this is not just the actual downtime that involves employees being unable to access the network resources. Downtime can occur every day, and a slow printer or web pages loading slowly is not exactly an issue your insurance firm will fall over itself rushing to come and fix. A flat rate IT service on the other hand routinely monitors the network for such problems and fixes it with no added costs. Routine check-ups also to a large extent prevents the occurrence of a full-blown downtime.

What if you don’t experience these network issues that often?

Let’s look at it this way, if you live in an earthquake-prone region, you may want to take structural precautions when building your house, even if the last earthquake took place some decades ago. The network and cyberspace are a lot less predictable than that. It is everything but static. A perfectly working network might go down in the next five seconds and bring everything to a standstill. No network runs on a constant. There is always an upgrade to be done. There are enough causes and threats in the cybersphere to make network downtime a very present reality to every single business owner: hackers, viruses, fire, flooding, theft, physical damage, electric faults, accidental deletion. When network issues arise in whatever form, and there is no guarantee that they won’t, more often than not you will spend a lot of money in righting the problem. So why not prevent it, and have an affordable plan for when it occurs?

Advantages of flat-rate IT services

  • Flat rate

Of course, the biggest advantage of flat-rate IT services is just that – it is a flat rate. You can hardly compare the flat rate to hourly IT support. Hourly IT support comes with baggage – overtime, rented space and in emergencies just to mention a few. More so, the IT needs of the business are diverse and dynamic – updates, devices maintenance, software upgrades, hardware failure, cyber threats.

Often your business will require different service providers to handle the IT needs as they arise, which will take a huge toll on your company’s finances. Flat rate services are more beneficial in that you get what you would have got in the traditional billable hours, only the pricing is more transparent. There will be no unforeseen charges, regardless of the amount of work and time. If your in-house IT expert leaves, you do not have to scramble to get someone else to replace them while your network hangs in jeopardy.

  • Active monitoring

Yet another big advantage flat rate billing has over the pay-as-you-go services is the active monitoring. For hourly IT services, their engagement with you ends the moment their work for that day ends, if you want further consistent monitoring it will attract other charges. It is a comforting feeling for both you and your employees knowing that their work is safe even as they leave for the night and that they won’t wake up to deleted files and crashed devices the next day. You want of all things, employees who are confident in your capacity to provide them with a safe cyber space to operate in.

  • Gets rid of costly downtime and IT failures

Most of IT failures and downtime can be prevented. Routine monitoring eliminates expensive downtime and fixes whatever issues there may be that prevent your employees from reaching their full performance.

  • No extra charges for disaster and data recovery

Disaster and data recovery can be frustrating to your employees, at best, but the biggest hit will be on your finances if you do not have a proper plan. Having a team on the ground that will take care of everything and alleviate this frustration is exactly what the flat rate IT providers do.

  • No hidden charges

Pay-as-you-go services almost definitely get accompanied by additional charges that no one ever looks forward to. There is overtime for one, multiple technicians and external services/ contractors are yet other things that have to be paid for. The pricing of flat-rate services is more upfront, transparent and inclusive.

  • Dedicated help desk

Any time a problem arises you are guaranteed a dedicated help desk without further costs. No further consultation fees arise no matter how many times inquiries are made.

  • Handles all the software, security and compliance updates

These are things that can be quite tedious and can be easily forgotten. With flat rate services, you can always leave such worries to the firm you have contracted.

There is always something to do in a network-based environment. The best approach is to pay a firm a one-off and forget about everything and let it handle every single thing that arises. Your employees will appreciate the speed with which everything is solved and precious minutes will be directed towards work instead of worrying about the next upgrade. There is too much to be done and following up on each and every one of them will take a lot of your precious time and money. Of all available options, flat-rate IT services still remain the best.