What Are Ad Hoc IT Services?
Ad hoc IT Service is a case by case engagement with an independent contractor or an IT Support Company. On the surface, it appears to be a viable option for IT support. However, upon closer examination, it is the most dangerous way to support an IT environment.
Dangers of Ad Hoc IT Support
Imagine for a moment you are a doctor and a patient comes in with bad back pains. As a first step, you want to do a cat scan or MRI. However, the patient wants you to treat them without any of the tests. At this point, you can only diagnose based on the symptoms. So, you give them pain killers.
As a result, this relieves the symptoms for a while, but their pain comes back. Now, the patient claims you didn’t diagnose them correctly the first time and therefore they should not have to pay for subsequent visits. Consequently, both the provider and the client suffer. That is how ad hoc often works!
The risk to the IT Support Provider
When a company performs ad hoc services, they take any risk. For example, they risk not knowing how a fix can affect other things on the network. After all, they do not know how it is set up, what it’s connected to, or historical issues. Therefore, they will always get blamed if it causes more problems. This can lead to reputation loss.
Many clients will use ad hoc as a litmus test to see if the IT support company is good enough to support their environment full-time. However, in the end, it is a roulette game. For example, if the provider can fix the problem, they will win the business. If they can’t, they will lose it. Unfortunately, they lose their reputation along with it. Therefore, many providers avoid ad hoc all-together.
The Client Bares the Cost
Clients have it worse. First of all, ad hoc does not offer any monitoring or updates. This makes it easier for viruses and hackers to creep into the system. Second, there is no documentation on the environment. This means the engineer can only approach the issues based on the symptoms. Without understanding the root cause this can lead to multiple breaks in the system and expensive repeat visits. Last, you are at the mercy of the provider’s schedules as they have no way of knowing when multiple client calls will come in. When that does happen, their recurring revenue clients will come first.
Most important, the client bears the cost. Since you pay by the hour, you also have to pay additional for the virus cleanup, breaks, fixes, and multiple attempts. Trust me when I say that this adds up! If you are dependent on your computers to do business, you would be much better off with a monthly contract.
The Two Exceptions to Using Ad Hoc IT Services
I believe there are two exceptions to the rule of using ad hoc IT services. Obviously, internal IT departments sometimes need additional resources on a temporary basis. This could be for projects, seasonal, or advanced issues.
The next one is for companies that need less than one-fourth of an hour of IT support per month. The reason for this is because they are not heavily dependent on their network. Consequently, ad hoc can be appropriate when very little changes are made in the environment – as long as it is set up the right way.
Why Companies Choose Ad Hoc
Many small- and medium-sized businesses use ad hoc IT services in an effort to save money and control their cost. As a matter of fact, many independent contractors charge as little as $50 per hour for their services. Obviously, this seems really great on the surface, but it is actually quite dangerous.
Companies that use ad hoc IT services are at a high risk of viruses, failures, and hacks. In addition, the lack of documentation results in repeat visits and multiple breaks in the system. Therefore, the combination of downtime and excess hours far outweigh the cost of a monthly contract with a reputable company. This makes for a very sick network.
A Better Alternative
A better alternative to “Ad Hoc” IT services, is INSI’s Managed Services or Customized IT™. INSI has a tiered structure that can offer decreased rates on 80% of the IT support issues without sacrificing quality. This is because our tiered structure allows us to charge entry-level rates for entry-level tickets, which constitutes 80% of the IT support tickets. Further, we can manage the entire environment, fill in the gaps for an internal IT team, or we can break out the services to the client’s exact needs. Finally, we can do all this for a fixed fee.
Do You Want To Learn More About The Difference Between Ad Hoc and INSI’s Customized IT™?
Go here to see the various types of IT support, their pros and cons, and great questions to ask the provider on each one.
In addition, if you would like to know more about this topic and how it affects you, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a copy of the book IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Comparing IT Support Companies.