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What Are the Three Tiers of Managed IT Services, and Which One Do I Need?

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Managed IT services are not a one-size-fits-all deal - so what kind of MITS package could your company benefit from?

Hi, I’m Jeff Blount with Cobb Technologies, and in this video we’re going to talk about the different levels of managed IT services.

HubSpot Video

When you think of the different tiers or levels of managed IT services, try to picture a triangle divided into three levels.


At the bottom of this triangle, you have the “break-fix” model of managed IT services. This model is reactionary, meaning that whoever employs it will really only use it once something has gone wrong with their network or equipment. 

The IT person - and it’s usually a single person handling this tier of service- will be on-call, with each call billed separately instead of having it worked into a service plan. These calls can range from $50 an hour to $150 depending on the experience of the IT technician you’ve hired, as well as the issue they’re trying to solve.

Break-fix models generally work well for smaller businesses with a minimal digital footprint and less of a need for regular IT services and maintenance. Break-fix can be the most cost-effective model since they operate on a per-need basis, however, it’s a pretty high-risk, high-reward model. You’ll be paying less for the services, but if something catastrophic were to happen you wouldn’t have the infrastructure that would allow you to bounce back easily.


Next, in the middle of the triangle, you have “A la Carte”-style managed IT services. This level of service is more proactive than the bottom, break-fix model, and covers some aspects of the network. With this model the company providing managed IT services will take care of things like backing up your data and keeping your antivirus up-to-date. 

The types of businesses that go for a la carte service level are generally small-to-medium sized, and have an IT person on staff or small IT department that can handle larger projects, but can’t really spare the manpower handle everyday troubleshooting and repairs, so they bring in a MITS company to help them partially manage their IT services and fill in the gaps without jumping into a fully-managed IT service model. 

You might run into a “too many cooks in the kitchen” sort of situation, with employees being unsure as to who to go to with certain tech issues they’re experiencing, however, a good IT provider will be communicative and together you should be able to delineate duties and tasks in a way that clears up any confusion among employees. 

With a la carte services you pay a little more money for more dependability and features, and you also pay on a monthly basis. Although it’s more expensive than the break-fix model, having the ability to plan ahead of time with that monthly rate can help with a business’ budgeting efforts. With an a la carte model the amount you spend will vary according to the number of users in your network and their degree of involvement in your company. Say you have 20-30 users, well you may find yourself paying 300 a month for minor Microsoft updates, or you may find yourself paying something like $1500 a month for a more integrated service.

Organizations that rely more heavily on technology tend to use this tier of service because they understand that IT is important to their business and recognize the need for preemptive measures as well as a safety net in case something adverse were to happen to their network and information.


Finally, you’ll find fully managed IT services up at the top of the triangle. With fully managed IT services companies no longer have to worry about their IT, as it’ll be completely handled by their MITS provider. 

While large organizations may still retain an in-house IT department, they’ll be freed up to focus on running the day-to-day operations of the organization. They also no longer have to worry about the possibility of what may happen if an IT leaves for vacation or quits because their MITS team will have their back and will continue to take care of their network and ensure it’s up to date and protected. Fully managed IT services provide companies with a high quality, strategic business partner.

As you might have already guessed, fully managed IT services are the most expensive of the three. Like the a la carte level, the full managed IT service will operate as a monthly service contract, plus, there’s also a potential added cost of bringing your network and hardware up to speed if it’s become a little out of date. Again, what you pay will be determined by the amount of users you have, sometime you’ll end up paying around $100 a month per user, or even up to $200 per user per month in case you’ve selected a more security-heavy option.

Companies that use this model tend to be ones that heavily value their network and data security, and that would suffer more extreme consequences if their organization were to be breached and their data stolen. Oftentimes we’ll see law firms, healthcare offices, and financial organizations using this model because they rely heavily on technology and need the security and support that a fully managed IT service provides. 

Beyond helping you encrypt and protect the sensitive information an organization handles on a daily basis, a good fully managed IT service provider will provide you with complete network security, 24/7 monitoring, running updates, email support, security awareness training, SEIM/SOC, guideline support (ex. HIPAA), dark web monitoring, data backups, and much more - including a regular business review to help keep your company on the cutting edge of tech. 

Choosing a managed IT service provider can be complicated, some organizations might even have needs that fall between two of these tiers, which is why it’s important to discuss your needs and vision for growth with a managed IT service provider to truly understand what level of IT services you need. If you want to learn more, feel free to Contact Us

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