Generally speaking managed services is a system where you pay a computer support company so much per month, per desktop PC, per server for support and certain proactive services. You need to carefully review what services are included and what restrictions are stipulated. If you are overwhelmed and would like a company experienced with the technical aspects of these agreements to review the agreement you are being offered you may contact WSI for a quote on reviewing your agreement. Typically it requires 1-2 hours per agreement for the review and to provide you a written summary of the strengths and weakness of the agreements.
If your computers a run just fine without a managed services agreement, it may not be right for you. Although, you'll get a lot of pressure to move away from what the managed services industry calls "break-fix", that does not mean it is right for your business. The "break-fix" model has worked well for years. With computer equipment dropping in price and becoming a commodity, it may be more cost effective to replace a failed computer than to repair it or pay hefty monthly services charges. New computing models WSI is beginning to offer including virtualized desktop and servers, take all the expensive to maintain technology out of your office. What you have is simple to maintain terminals and all the complexity goes into our partner's data center. Many companies offer virtual desktops and you may be able to get rid of almost all your computer headaches for a price similar to a managed services agreement.
You may also get pressure from your computer support company telling you that the only way you can get priority service when you have problems is by accepting their managed services agreement. Whenever you start receiving that type of pressure on any offer, it may be time to look for a new vendor.
Just because managed services is a popular trend within the computer support industry does not necessarily mean it is best for both the vendor of these services and the customer. Computer support companies like managed services because they get paid no matter what. This does incentivize your computer support vendor to set-up a solid dependable network for your business. But weren't they supposed to do that in the first place?
You may also wish to consider a hybrid approach where you simply buy a scheduled visit from your computer vendor once a month to come in and make sure your network is working properly. You can also maintain a list of small computer problems that arise during the month for them to resolve during the visit. This keeps you out of the expensive managed services agreement, while gaining some of the benefits of proactive maintenance with some monitoring.
If you are in the central Iowa area WSI can directly assist you with your computer needs and problems. For everyone else we hope this common sense information is useful whether you choose to adopt the managed service model or not.