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Evolution of Vetted Managed IT Services

Definitive Trusted Advisor GuideHave you ever wondered how the IT support world discovered the break/fix model was flawed and, as time passed, both they and their customers would benefit much more from vetted managed IT services?

Sometime in the early 2000s, many IT support firms began to realize the old break/fix model for supporting their clients caused more headaches for both parties than the model was worth. There were no guaranteed response times, they made more money only if things broke more frequently, and there was a monthly dispute as to just how many hours the provider had actually spent servicing the client’s needs. Also, the client never knew if the IT service provider was actually working on solving their issue or just wasting time in order to bill for more hours.

The Brief Life Of Service Level Agreements

As frustrations grew at both sides of the table, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) was born. During the early years of the SLA, most service providers would assign a number of hours the client firm could utilize per month for a set monthly rate; like 16 hours for $1,300 per month. If the client exceeded their assigned number of service hours they would pay a rate for the overage at an hourly rate that was discounted from the provider’s normal hourly rate.

The Service Level Agreement quickly became popular to both clients and their IT service providers because, supposedly, the monthly argument over how many hours the provider had spent solving problems would be within the preset amount. This popularity didn’t last long, though.

In fact, it quickly became more of a point of contention than the break/fix model for several reasons. 1) Hardly any service providers could tell the customer how they determined the allowable monthly hours, because it was just an educated guess; 2) Clients would get extremely angry if they exceeded their allowable hours and demand an explanation of why that happened; 3) Clients ultimately began to argue that the provider only spent a fraction of their allowable hours and demand “rollover hours” be added to the contract, and 4) Some clients would grow so angry over all this they’d break the contract and look for another service provider because they knew the current provider wouldn’t enforce the original terms of the contract.

Back To The Drawing Board

I can still remember the day in 2005 when we at Matrixforce decided there had to be a better way, and did something about it. I believe we were the first IT support firm in the state to implement the radical idea of unlimited support for a flat monthly fee.

When we introduced the idea to our clients we virtually got no push-back because it just made so much sense. We completely eliminated the billable hour and stopped paying our sales staff commission on hardware sales. This aligned our interests with our customers because with unlimited support we were the ones who suffered if something broke. If we spent 20 hours solving an IT issue, the client didn’t pay a penny extra, but we were hit with the extra expense of having a member or our support staff out-of-pocket when they could have been doing something more productive.

Today we call this Guardian vetted managed IT services. We’re incentivized to keep our clients networks running with no issues; a win-win for both parties. Matrixforce has grown exponentially over the past 12 years, and we now have dozens of vetted managed IT services customers who need not worry about overages, rollover hours, or anything else. They know we’re monitoring their network 24x7x365, and in the rare instance something stops working, they also know they won’t pay extra and the issue will be resolved as quickly as possible; many times before they even know anything was wrong.

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