Running a Mac Based Law Firm – Managed Services
The third in a four-part series
Managed Services is the opposite of the reactive, hourly model. The most significant benefit is being able to budget IT costs and shift the support approach from reactive to proactive.
The majority of Managed Service offerings offer a tiered model, such as Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Bronze, for example, provides only phone support, with Silver provides slightly more, etc.
When I first started in 2006 and worked as an hourly consultant, I would set up my clients or resolve their issues and then say, “call me when you need me.”
I prided myself on my ability to resolve issues and enjoyed working with my clients. However, there was a subconscious voice in my head, wondering how I could prevent many reactive problems I ran into. There had to be a better way.
My company ceased providing hourly support when I realized the business model (hourly support) had many flaws.
When I discovered the Managed Services model, I embraced it fully, and GlobalMac IT hasn’t looked back.
Law firms using Managed Services benefit from fewer problems, less downtime, and far less unexpected issues. This pro-active approach takes the role of managing IT outside of the firm and puts it into the hands of experts.
At least that is the promise of Managed Service providers. Like any business, whether they deliver is another story.
Managed Services provide a dramatic improvement over the options of DIY and hourly support. However, as our experience grew working with Managed Services, we saw some shortcomings with the tiered model of Managed Services.
These insights led to the evolution of our current services.
The tiered model means some things are included, and others are not. Items such as Project work, training, after hours or emergency support, setting up new staff members, office moves, on-site support, for example, are rarely included, and therefore billed hourly.
I found this tiered model often made clients feel they were being nickeled and dimed. They thought service was included, but ended up being outside the scope and, therefore, billable. The overall impact of this model ends up hurting your firm in several ways.
First, one of the significant benefits of Managed Services is being able to budget your IT costs.
But if project work is not included, how can you budget accurately? The biggest problem this leads to is the delay of important projects that would be beneficial to the firm. Because the cost is not in the budget, projects that are important but not urgent are often pushed off and delayed.
Delaying the implementation of the project impacts the firms’ profits, assuming the new solution would have addressed a bottleneck in the firm or boosted productivity in some way.
For example, we have seen many firms fail when trying to roll out technical solutions on their own. The data is often neither migrated configured properly, and they don’t provide proper training. Ultimately, the staff does not buy into the solution, and it fails after the firm spent a LOT of money trying to get it off the ground.
Not knowing the level of support will cover an issue that may deter your staff from calling the IT company, because they don’t want to rack up additional bills for the firm. This leads to small issues developing into bigger problems.
A word of caution: Windows-based Managed Services Companies.
Managed Services in the Apple world is a fairly new model, with less than 100 all-Mac Managed Service Providers in the nation. This means many Mac-based law firms looking for a proactive support option often only come across Windows-based Managed Service Providers who claim they can support Macs.
The number ONE issue with most Windows-centric Managed Service Providers supporting Macs is that it is financially impossible for a Windows-shop to provide the same level of support to Macs as they do to PCs.
They cannot justify spending the same amount of resources on training, tools, and support for the 5-10% of their computers that may be Macs. Because of this, you will not receive the same caliber of support provided to their PC users. In the majority of cases, when they say they can support Macs, they have one person who’s the “Mac expert.” When that person is out of the office, Mac-using clients are out of luck.
Only becoming Apple Certified does NOT make one an expert. It is a step in the right direction. However, there is still a long way to becoming proficient at supporting Macs.
I have heard many stories where the client ended up knowing more about Macs than the support person they are speaking with! Talk about a horrible experience.
If you are an all-Mac law firm, you need to perform extra diligence if you are considering hiring on a Windows-centric IT company to support your firm. Not everyone out there is negligent in this area, but sadly, I can say from experience that the majority are unable to support Macs competently.
Managed Services has some flaws but are a huge step forward in becoming proactive in managing your technology.
The next article will discuss the 4th and final option, GlobalMac IT’s unique offering of Managed and how it is specialized for Mac-based Law Firms.