Everything about working with Help Desk Cavalry
Managed Services Providers (MSPs) cover a spectrum of products and services, and what they offer can be different depending on the company. Since it’s important for both you and us to be completely clear about what it’s like to work with HDCav, we put together this FAQ to help create a solid picture of what it’s like to work with us through sales and project processes. It also offers plenty of definitions and explanations so we stay on the same page. It’s broken up by topic, so be sure to scroll down to find your answers.
General Managed IT Services
What are managed IT services? What is a Managed Services Provider (MSP)?
At its root, “managed services” is proactively outsourcing business processes to reduce costs and improve operations. Managed IT services is outsourcing your company’s information technology management and maintenance to an external provider. Basically, it’s paying another company to look after your business’s IT matters so you can save money while increasing efficiency.
A managed service provider—often referred to simply as an MSP—is a company external to your business that is responsible for providing IT services to you. This can include basic network set up and care all the way up to handling everything that an entire IT department should handle.
Companies have been getting along with their own IT for decades, why are MSPs becoming so popular now?
It’s true that all sizes of companies have traditionally been able to manage their IT in-house. But these days, we’re all aware of how quickly technology advances. That’s not slowing down. Most companies struggle to keep up with market advancements in the products and services they offer (which is after all, how they make their money). Being expected to also prioritize the education, design, management, maintenance, and updating of a fundamentally supportive department causes distraction and increases overhead. It also opens the door to greater risk since these companies can typically only afford one or a few IT professionals which is not enough to stay abreast of all areas of IT.
What kinds of services do MSPs provide?
This is a broad question that has many answers depending on the MSP. Generally speaking, though, an MSP delivers a company’s full IT infrastructure, maintenance, and other technical assistance, along with handling end-user systems. They offer services such as technology auditing, remote desktop support, application managed services, backup and disaster recovery, among others. Above all, IT MSPs are responsible for ensuring business continuity. Unlike outsourcing, MSPs take a holistic to technology services which eradicates gaps and decreases risk.
What is the difference between managed IT services and outsourcing?
These two models get understandably confused, but they are quite different. It comes down to how an IT vendor is compensated and how their actions influence that compensation.
Basically, an outsourced IT vendor handles one or a few aspects of business technology. They may supply, support, and maintain that service/product, but they are essentially only responsible for that aspect. Usually, they are employed only while the deliverable is being met, and when the goal is achieved or it’s time to switch systems, a new round of outsourcing begins.
On the other hand, an MSP is a long-term partnership focused on improvements. Outsourcing financially rewards the vendor when issues arise and there is downtime, but MSP business models are the exact opposite: their margin increases as they provide greater efficiencies and uptime. Which decreases their client’s overhead while increasing the company’s satisfaction with technology.
What is the difference between break/fix and managed IT services?
The answer is very much like the differences between managed IT services and outsourcing: It comes down to how an IT vendor is compensated and how their actions influence that compensation.
The break/fix method is the process of offering IT service support through a fee-for-service model. Under this model, the client is serviced on demand and billed only for that specific service received. These costs are unpredictable and reducing them puts pressure on the client to use less, or waste time and resources trying to fix the issues in-house (which really isn’t a cost savings when you look at labor and opportunity loss). Basically, the break/fix vendor is rewarded when things go wrong.
Whereas managed IT services refer to the shared responsibility of an organization’s entire IT ecosystem. Since they are accountable for the wellbeing of the business’s technology, they are incentivized to create improvements wherever possible. This is typically done at a flat fee which creates predictability and reliability for the client.
Which companies are good candidates for managed services?
Businesses of all sizes and in all industries use Managed Services for a variety of different reasons. Small to medium size companies use MSPs to provide full IT services so they can focus on their core business and maintain operational cost control. Larger companies may use an MSP to expand their in-house abilities. In these cases, they will use an MSP to handle more day-to-day tasks, freeing up resources to complete more strategic projects (or the other way around). And since most companies can’t expect their employees to work around the clock, they will use an MSP if they need 24x7x365 monitoring and alerts.
Companies interested in reducing their overall IT department costs will benefit from a quick costs analysis of maintaining the staff and relationships in-house or engaging an MSP. MSPs don’t get sick, take vacations, or require benefits. And they also generally cost less than a full-time employee.
If you can relate to 3 or more of these statements, your company will benefit from a Managed IT Services approach:
- You realize that IT is a make-or-break part of your business that can no longer be handled by the boss’s kid, one of your staff members, or the guy next door.
- You understand that IT is no longer an optional expense, but an operational expense similar to your electric bill.
- You want to work with an IT vendor that cares for your business and thinks more like a business owner than an IT technician.
- You just want it all to work without investing more internal labor time.
- You did not start your current job role/situation with the goal of being an IT expert.
- You do not want to be in the IT business or have IT concerns added to your list of business worries.
- You are concerned that your company suffers and misses opportunity when you cannot focus on your top priorities.
- You realize the hourly cost of downtime and business interruption is much more than a technician’s hourly rate.
- You want to be done with trying to manage depreciating assets.
- You want to focus your hiring efforts on roles that increase your bottom line, not supportive roles whose expertise can be difficult to verify against your specific needs.
- You never want to deal with technology vendors blaming each other.
- You realize that a break/fix IT support company is not incentivized to fix your problems.
- You currently put-up with IT issues because you do not want the trouble of changing to another vendor.
Which companies are not a fit for managed services?
Like the above answer, if you can relate to 3 or more of these statements, an MSP is likely not good fit for your company:
- You are a do-it-yourself type and only want help when you cannot figure it out yourself.
- Your general business approach is “if it’s not currently broken, why fix it?”
- You do not measure the performance of your business and employees.
- You are not concerned about how your employees use business resources during business hours.
- You believe a PC should last more than 6+ years and would like to maintain your assets with that mindset.
- You are comfortable using free time or expecting an employee to learn how to fix computers.
- Employee efficiency or morale improvement are not concerning for you.
- You depend on “non-professionals” to help you out with IT.
- You believe that business productivity and performance are secondary to IT costs.
How difficult is it to change IT Vendors?
We see companies outgrowing their “computer guy” more frequently than in the past, so this question comes up quite a bit. Unfortunately, it’s another one that has no straightforward answer because each company’s current technology and security systems are different, and so is their current approach to supporting IT. We do know that without the proper guidance and planning, a switch can be a painful and costly exercise. Which is why the new vendor should take great care to plot out a detailed plan when they assess your current situation. They should also deliver this plan with particular attention to current gaps and walk you through it in layman’s terms (if that makes you more comfortable). When you approach a new IT vendor, ask them about the specifics of their assessment and onboarding processes so you feel they are thorough.
HDCav Services Overview
What makes Help Desk Cavalry different from other MSPs? Since they all work remotely, what makes you different from the bigger firms and national companies?
This is going to be a longer answer because we mean it. We understand that every MSP in business today has the same boiler plate responses to it: we have rich expertise, lots of years supporting clients, take a comprehensive approach, provide personal touch/”white glove” service, have a proven track record, believe in customer satisfaction…we could go on and on. These things don’t make us different from our competitors, they put us at the same level. What makes us different are three major things:
- We are local and we are locally minded.
We mean that your time is our time. If you need us at 8 am because of a login issue, you aren’t experiencing a delay because we’re on the east coast. We also live and work here which means the we understand the unique issues that can come up in Kitsap county (the ferry is backed up, an area has connectivity outages, Seahawks traffic, even schools being let out early). We also pride ourselves on being where you need us when you need us, which would be quite impossible if we were in Oregon. Have a network down? We’ll be right there.
- Investing in long-term, trusted relationships is the reason we started.
Most of us have deep ties in the community and many of those are with busines owners. We saw a repetitive need for Kitsap small businesses to get access to updated technology, experienced support in real-time, and guidance that can make or break their success goals. We wanted these trusted friends to do well, so we gathered our abilities and started a company that makes that happen. We operate with that motivation every day with every new company that engages us.
- Supporting our communities is our ultimate goal.
As mentioned, we live and work here. So do our families, friends, and neighbors. Most of us for many generations back. We are in the unique business of supporting companies so they can focus on the reasons they got into the business in the first place. And when they succeed at doing that, the entire local economy thrives, which means more opportunity for our families. That knowledge is with us every day and in every client we serve. We want our communities to thrive, so we focus enabling the small businesses that make them up to thrive also.
How does HDCav’s managed IT services work?
We can confidently say that we are more thorough than most of our competitors. And we mean that about our assessments, onboarding, and the services we provide because they all work hand in hand. In the discovery phase, we find out how you impact your ecosystem and how it impacts you. So we learn about your business processes, customers, partners, vendors, and how all of those interact. Then we walk you through our detailed plan and timeline along with pricing. We discuss benefits and needs, show you the design, answer all your questions, and sign the contract. Then our teams get to work onboarding you. They outfit you with equipment, install the software needed, configure everything, set up your users, and connect everything with monitoring and support. Once everything stabilizes, we’re simply an arm of your company, providing on demand assistance—remotely or when needed, onsite—as well as continuous updating, supervision, and improvement of your technology.
We become your IT dept from then on. You don’t even have to make a vendor call (no calls to Comcast). We do it all.
What are your Help Desk hours?
HDCav Help Desk is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are extenuating dates/times that may constitute an extra charge, and if you’re wondering what these might be, please contact us at Biz@HDCav.com. You can read more about what our Help Desk can do for you in our IT Services pages by selecting the aspect you’d like to learn more about from the drop down in the navigation menu above.
What is your response time?
Customers can reach our Help Desk 24x7x365 and receive help from a live technician. Though we understand that each issue is important to our clients (after all, why else would they submit a ticket?) we must prioritize response times based on the severity of the issue. For normal and low priority issues, our Help Desk can typically respond within 24 hours. For higher priority, the response time is much faster.
Which areas do you support?
We are based in North Bremerton, WA, but we serve the entire Kitsap county and neighboring counties. Though we have experience supporting areas far beyond that, it is our choice to focus our resources on supporting the communities that we, our families, friends, neighbors have lived in for generations.
What does HDCav managed IT services include?
HDCav services range widely with full-scale solutions for both remote and in-office workforces; communication and collaboration tools; voice and video conferencing; hardware and equipment rental. We also provide strategic planning services such as network design, advanced security policies, and future planning based on the company’s goals. Our focus is on improved business continuity, technology expertise, operational efficiency, and improved responsiveness.
Can you develop an IT security policy?
HDCav’s Cybersecurity services cover all aspects of technology security and include the creation of strategic plans and policies for our clients. Even difficult to manage issues like human error are addressed in our onboarding and training services. You can read more about our Cybersecurity solutions here.
HDCav Services Pricing
How much does HDCav’s managed IT services cost?
Though pricing for core systems and technology is the same for most of our clients, the overall plan changes for different sizes of companies based on their needs. No two companies are identical, so after we perform your assessment, we can give you an exact number. This is how it goes . . .
At the start of the partnership, we perform a detailed assessment of your company’s ecosystem: your business processes, customers, partners, vendors, and how all of those interact. We define your needs based on this discovery. We do this free of charge because it helps us pinpoint the most accurate pricing and the most comprehensive plan possible. After the assessment, we present our findings, the plan, and all costs to you before you ever sign anything.
Do you charge to onboard new clients?
Since every new client needs a different level of attention and energy from our teams, we charge a flat labor hour to onboard. During the assessment period—while we build your plan—we calculate the number of hours you need based on your current network set up and health. This is presented to you along with timelines and monthly fees. Most clients advance from an onboarding phase to a maintenance/support phase pretty quickly, but it varies for each.
Is there a contract or can I use you on a month to month basis?
We require a contract for many reasons, but chiefly because our goal in every partnership is to create long-term solutions which is how we adhere to our motto: Business Technology Guaranteed. A Managed IT Service provider is a strategic partnership that depends on symbiotic reliance. So a contract is a sign of good faith that the commitment to improved technology and better business is mutual. These are typically issued offered with five-year terms.
Is there anything that I have to pay for beyond your monthly service fee?
Outside of the onboarding hourly fee, the only other items that you may billed for depend on if you need them or not. These are fiber service, Microsoft Office 365 licensing, and 3CX (VoIP) licensing. It’s worth noting that in the case of virtue phone systems, you’ll have a separate phone vendor bill since they provide the actual service.
Can I pay you only when I need you?
The short answer is no, and it’s pretty simple why: referring back to the break/fix versus Managed Services question, the break/fix (which is the same as “pay when I need you”) model is completely counter to the MSP model. HDCav believes in the win-win outcomes that are inherent in the MSP approach to IT business, and providing break/fix services would change our culture of being rewarded only when our clients do well to one of being rewarded when our clients don’t. This is against our values.
How much do you charge if my support hours are more than I use in a typical month (like emergencies, hardware failure, etc)?
Zero, nothing, bupkis. Your monthly bill is based on the number of machines or number of employees (also called “seats”) that are in your agreement, not on the number of hours of support that you use. This means that your support hours can be as little or as much as you need when you need them. You do not have to monitor your usage to control costs, nor do you need to discourage your employees from reaching out anytime they need us.
How can you charge a fixed price for unlimited support? What’s the catch?
There is no catch. And this answer goes back to the fundamental business model of an MSP. Over the years, we’ve calculated the typical quantity of support hours for any given network setup when it’s properly managed. This is how we predict how many support hours your network will require once you’re fully onboarded and stabilized. We can’t deny that we lose money in the beginning because we spend many extra hours taking care of neglected items and pent-up IT demand. Eventually, though, the corrected issues bring us to a calmer, steady flow of support and allow us to focus on maintenance and planning for the future.
Working with HDCav
Can I pick and choose HDCav services I want?
There are some decisions about the overall approach (like supporting an onsite versus remote worforce). But overall, our solutions work together much like the gears in a clock, where without one, the clock couldn’t tell time. With a few exceptions, we designed our entire suite of services to interlock so that there are varying levels of dependencies from one to the other. That being said, our architect specialists are constantly evaluating the latest technologies and trends to ensure that our solutions are as advanced as possible while providing the easiest user experience. At the core of our solutions is the HDCav Cybersecurity service which ensures that each and every piece is stable and secure.
There are a few additional items that may or may not be offered depending on what you already own and what you need. Just contact Biz@HDCav.com with what you have in mind and we can quickly let you know.
Can I use the vendors that I already work with?
This answer is both yes and no.
Yes, in that we do offer third party vendor management services (as you’ll see spelled out in our HDCav IT Support offering). So for example, if you’re printer breaks down, you contact us to handle it on your behalf instead of going directly to that vendor. We give them access (if they have to come onsite, we arrange that according to your approved schedule), help with any troubleshooting, perform quality checks on the solutions, then remove them from your network. Of course, we monitor security and identify risk at every step of the way.
No in that our Managed IT Service offering consists of a list of preferred vendors that make up the product portions of our suite of services. For things like your email provider and firewall, we already vetted the best solutions that work together to provide an exceptional user experience as well as advanced security. These are the products that we onboard and set up for you when you become an HDCav client.
What if we already have an IT employee or employees?
No problem. Many of our existing clients had IT staff when they approached us and still have the same staff today. Our goal in these cases is to relieve their daily responsibilities so they can focus on larger projects. This allows your existing IT staff to work more efficiently, which saves the company time and money.
What if our network is already working fine?
This really depends on what you mean by “fine” versus the actual health of your network. Most networks that we see are actually very far from healthy, although the client often doesn’t realize it. This is understandably because they aren’t in the IT business. Some of the typical needs that we see 99% of the time are installing patches, verifying and improving security, and replacing outdated hardware. And that’s usually the tip of the iceberg. Companies usually are missing these pieces or neglected them because you have to have the right technical skills and the right network management systems. Often companies aren’t even exactly sure what those are. And they have to be prepared to spend the labor costs on proactively stabilizing the network which may inflate if they put the resource in charge of doing so.
Do you use subcontractors?
Yes, we use a small and highly trusted team of overseas contractors. They provide support to a handful of our clients who have satellite locations and employees in Europe on their schedules. They are also in the position to offer our US clients hands-on, fully active monitoring and updates during off-hours. Our US team is always available, though (perhaps a little delayed at night due to sleep needs), and we respect any client who requests that they not be supported by overseas contractors. If this is a concern, you just have to let us know.
Do you ever come to our offices? How does that work with current health safety regulations?
Yes, we do. If the problem you are experiencing cannot be repairing quickly over the telephone, then we immediately schedule a time to dispatch a technician to make the repairs. We never arrive onsite without permission, which is coordinated by our Help Desk Team. They work closely with you to schedule a time that’s both immediate and convenient.
And yes, we are fully outfitted and abide by the strictest health safety regulations. Our technicians and the HDCav Help Van are equipped with all proper safety gear including facemasks, gloves, and sanitization supplies. Protocols are in place to protect both your users and our employees while allowing them to perform every onsite task that technology demands. Even though our team has everything they need, they are always ready to adhere to your safety protocols and are willing to coordinate with you at any time in order to ensure your employees are comfortable.
What happens if we try out your service but find that we don’t like it?
Bottom line: Just talk to us. Our #1 priority is doing the right thing, even if the right thing is making the client happy by ending the partnership. If you feel that we’re not the right fit, then we’ll work with you to make and execute an offboarding plan that is as easy and seamless for your users as possible. If your agreement contains an equipment lease financing agreement, then there will be an additional step.