When starting up and growing a business, it can be tricky working out which tasks to manage in-house and which to outsource to a specialist.

That being said, when it comes to IT, there’s overwhelming evidence to suggest that investing in IT maintenance is well worth the money. In fact, a proactive IT support strategy run by a team of experts will save you money in the long run.

But what do we mean by “IT maintenance”, how will it benefit your business, and how do you find the right IT maintenance plan for your business.

What is IT Maintenance?

IT maintenance is essentially the work needed to ensure that all your IT infrastructure is operating as it should, allowing your business to grow unimpeded by technical difficulties. It will vary from business to business depending on the network, hardware and software set-up but can include any or all of the following services:

  • Systems set-up and advice
  • Helpdesk support
  • Backup and recovery advice
  • Telecoms and internet services
  • Disaster recovery advice
  • Routine maintenance of your IT equipment including patches and updates
  • Remote monitoring of your network
  • Cyber security monitoring, detection and response
  • Daily data backups

What problems does IT maintenance solve?

IT maintenance can help solve any IT issue you can think of. These might include:

  • Security threats
  • Network outages
  • Outdated, slow, or broken software or hardware
  • Data loss or duplications
  • Internet or telecoms disruptions
  • Setting up new starters with IT systems (desktops, printers, telecoms, software).
  • Anything in your operations that relies on IT will need the input of some kind of maintenance plan if it stands a chance of running at the optimal level.

Types of IT maintenance

When we talk about IT maintenance, we could be talking about preventative, predictive or corrective maintenance depending on your IT needs and prefered strategy. Each differs depending on your overall outlook on your IT operations and the tasks you prioritise.
Let’s dig deeper into each of those IT maintenance strategies:

Preventive maintenance

“Preventive maintenance” is about carrying out regular, scheduled maintenance activities to help prevent IT failures in the future.
Often with the help of machine learning, data analytics and asset health monitoring systems, IT engineers can perform highly relevant and reliable maintenance checks. These checks enable businesses to operate as normal and ensure that issues that might affect operations are detected – and resolved – before they take root.
Preventive maintenance is the preferable option for systems for which the cost of letting it run its course until it breaks is too high, or the part is too critical to the business. It’s not the ideal option for all IT items, but usually the most valuable part of the IT infrastructure.

Predictive maintenance

“Predictive maintenance” is only slightly different from preventive maintenance. It is the act of using data analytics and techniques to detect issues in your IT systems and equipment and fix them before they cause problems or break down. It uses both real-time and historical data to predict issues before they even arise so that remedial action can be taken.

Corrective maintenance

“Corrective maintenance” is the technique used to fix IT issues where there hasn’t been an expectation that they are fixed, or if the cost of a part failure and repair is less than the cost of preventive or predictive maintenance costs.

In the case of, say, a printer breakdown, the cost of predictive or preventive maintenance would cost far more than the cost of fixing or replacing the printer.
For parts that are crucial to business function, and the consequences of that part breaking being more costly than the cost of fixing it, a predictive or preventive form of maintenance might be more appropriate.

What IT maintenance strategy should you choose for your business?

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with all three strategies of IT maintenance, and how you choose your approach will depend on your business priorities and budget. You’ll need to take into account costs, your operational priorities, and your capacity for planning your hardware and software needs in advance.

That said, there’s no reason why you can’t adopt all three approaches to your overall IT strategy using each to serve a particular IT needs. For example, for your IT security, you may deem a predictive maintenance approach to be most valuable and cost-effective in the long term, whereas a corrective approach to your printers and other hardware might be most appropriate.

Preventive Predictive Corrective
Pros — Longer term cost saving
Improved budgeting
— Longer equipment lifecycle— Energy saving
— Less disruption and minimised downtime
— Less expensive than Preventive Maintenance

— Improved asset reliability

— Less downtime

— Scheduled maintenance

— Higher product quality

— Inexpensive

— Simple process

— Minimal planning involved

Cons — Higher upfront costs

— Potential over maintenance

— Requires specific condition monitoring equipment

— Requires expertise in data evaluation

— Shorter equipment lifecycles

— Unpredictability

— Unscheduled downtime

— Potentially higher longer-term costs

How to choose an IT maintenance provider?

When looking for an IT maintenance provider, there are a few things you should consider.

If you’re in the early stages of growing your business, then ROI will be a significant factor. It’s worth balancing out the cost of hiring an internal IT resource and outsourcing your maintenance to an expert provider. Usually, the latter makes most financial sense.

The second point is to find a maintenance provider you can rely on. One of the biggest reasons for outsourcing your IT maintenance is so that you can get on with growing your business knowing that your IT is in safe hands. Learn about the company, look at the SLAs they have in place and their success rates, and find out what accreditations they have and their team qualifications.

It’s also important you look at the range of IT maintenance plans your provider offers. Will they offer the right level of support to cover the full range of your IT hardware, software and network needs? Will they offer contract flexibility to grow with you as you expand?

At Equity, we offer an IT maintenance package that’s tailored to suit your business needs, at a fixed monthly cost that keeps you protected from any surprises. We use a combination of preventive, predictive and corrective maintenance approaches depending on the IT system in question.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch with one of our experts who will discuss your needs further.