If you ever have the opportunity to work with Concept Technology (and we hope you do), you’ll find that one of the ways we differ from most local IT service firms is that we don’t offer a flat-fee pricing model. And we’re not shy about explaining why that is. But first, a little background.
The flat monthly fee model for remote monitoring, unlimited remote support and administration is typically offered by a Managed Service Provider (MSP). In the SMB space, MSP is rapidly becoming synonymous with ‘IT service provider’ — we may be the only provider left in Middle Tennessee that provides proactive monitoring and services by the hour, without a contract.
MSPs promise to monitor all of a client’s systems and services; be alerted to problems before the client knows about them; and remotely access and fix issues without disturbing the client’s normal business operations.
This is expensive software that when set up correctly provides real value for clients. Unfortunately, it has been our experience that this software is often deployed incompletely or incorrectly. Oftentimes in the search for unlimited support, an MSP tries to monitor every device and service for a particular business, which can number in the thousands. In this instance, the system generates so much noise that the employees whose job it is to pay attention to the alerts get used to expecting nonessential information and understandably stop listening.
We’ve had a number of clients who tell us that with their previous MSP provider they were paying for across-the-board monitoring and yet when their email server would go down, they would have to call the provider and notify them of the problem.
The signal-to-noise ratio is key in the monitoring business. When Concept Technology monitors and checks critical systems, we do so selectively, strategically and deliberately. That way, when an engineer receives an alert he knows it’s important and can act on it immediately.
In our opinion, the primary reason the MSP model is a failed model is that it isn’t designed with the client in mind. To get a sense of this, you only need to visit the N-able website, where on the homepage you’ll find three primary reasons IT service providers are told they should consider switching to remote monitoring and a flat-rate pricing model:
- Multiply the value of your business.
- More time to sell and find new customers.
- Get to market faster.
There’s no mention of making the client’s life easier, saving the client money or providing better services; there’s only consideration of the provider’s bottom line.
The second problematic piece of the MSP puzzle is the remote piece. It’s expensive to make available unlimited remote support to clients. To offset this cost, MSPs often hire less experienced technicians who sometimes end up downgrading the quality of support that’s provided. By contrast, Concept Technology hires only the best engineers by using a very rigorous hiring process that weeds out the less qualified.
Lastly, while paying a flat rate fee may sound great at the outset, it’s not unusual for a client to receive a second bill for services not covered under the flat rate — for example, if a server with an expired warranty has to be replaced. This second bill and added expense can be confusing and leave clients wondering how an MSP relationship works.
We may be the only ones who feel this way about the MSP model — but that’s okay. Everything that we do is with our client’s best interest in mind. We take the M out of MSP. The ‘managed’ part of the equation oftentimes means ‘automated,’ and we believe that some of the monitoring, consulting, network maintenance and security services that IT providers offer just shouldn’t be automated.