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The difference between reactive and proactive IT support

You have many different choices when it comes to the best technology strategy for your business. In addition to determining your IT budget, you also need to decide whether to take a reactive or proactive approach to your IT support.

Here’s what you need to know about these two different approaches to IT support and their advantages and disadvantages.

The reactive IT support model

Reactive IT support involves taking action to correct problems only when they occur. For this reason, you can also refer to reactive support as the break-fix model.

Under this model, a business contacts its IT support service when something goes wrong and arranges to have it fixed as soon as possible. Under the reactive model, you will have to wait for the IT team to address the problem. This typically means lots of downtime for the asset in question.

When considering the reactive approach, keep in mind that the average business can expect about 14 hours of downtime per year.

The proactive IT support model

Proactive IT support is an approach based on prevention. Fixing potential problems before they have the chance to cause serious issues. Proactive support primarily involves automating processes and monitoring key technology assets.

The IT team can monitor for both software and hardware issues. This allows a comprehensive watch over your business’ IT systems. Software problems can often be fixed remotely, while hardware issues typically require a technician who is physically present. Proactive IT support typically involves less downtime than a reactive approach. Problems can be fixed before they incapacitate an asset or system.

Pros and cons of each

Reactive IT support offers the advantage of variable service fees with your IT service provider, meaning that you will only be billed for the time that is spent fixing problems as they arise. This variable fee can be attractive to some companies that have limited financial resources.

The other side of the cost equation, however, is the cost of downtime. For small businesses, downtime is estimated to cost between $137 and $427 per minute. The fact that excessive downtime can impose such high costs on your business is the major disadvantage of reactive IT support. By its nature it involves more downtime than the proactive approach.

Under a proactive IT support model, your service provider typically charges a fixed cost. Though this can sometimes mean that you will pay more in a given month than you would under a variable fee arrangement, the proactive approach also means you will incur fewer costs as a result of downtime. The service level agreement with your managed services provider in a proactive IT arrangement may also give you access to other useful tech services, such as cloud services and VoIP support.

If you’re crafting a new IT strategy for your business, be sure to carefully consider the costs and benefits of both of these models of IT support. It’s also important to keep in mind how reactive and proactive approaches will fit in with other aspects of your overall technology strategy, such as disaster recovery planning.