If you are in the market for an outsourced IT support company for your small to medium enterprise (SME), then in your research you may have come across a number of terms you have likely heard before but aren’t quite sure of their exact meaning.

Below is a list of the most common terms used in the IT Service Industry pertaining to managed IT:

Please keep in mind that not every service provider will use the words in the same way, so when given a quote, make sure you understand what is included.

Break-Fix is simply that, when something breaks, an independent IT Support company would be contracted to repair or replace it within an agreed time-frame. (The replacement part will likely not be included in the price of the service.) This service does not monitor, manage or maintain your systems, so when something breaks you will need to call your IT guy to get it fixed.

Help Desk is the central point of contact, (internal or external) to call when issues arise. Technicians would determine the cause of the problem and pass it on to the appropriate team.

Desktop Support deals with end users and office equipment, this service would include break-fix and limited technical guidance and support, usually offered remotely, to support and fix any software related issues on a users’ computer and the company’s networks, phones and printers.

IT Support is a broad term which refers to technical assistance in the planning, set-up and maintenance of hardware and software computer systems and networks more in server rooms rather than desktops.

Managed Service typically refers to the technical support of servers, load balancers, hosting, firewalls, etc; but really any service could be managed or fully managed, it just specifies the extent of the service you should expect to receive. Managed Service is a more proactive approach to IT support as your systems will be monitored and maintained remotely by your managed service provider. It is important to understand which service is managed and which is just break-fix is so there are no misunderstandings in the future. This is usually a hardware-only package and will likely not include routine jobs, like adding new users and desktop support unless it’s written into the contract.

Fully-Managed Service is the same as Managed Service, but would also include the day to day actions, such as adding new users, deleting old ones and changing passwords.

This is not an exhaustive list and only includes terms pertaining to outsourced IT support. If there are any terms that you feel we may have missed please let us know in the comments.

Please keep in mind that though these terms are accepted by the industry as a whole, there are some providers which may use them more loosely. When given a quote by an IT support or Managed Service Company be sure that you are fully aware of what services are included. Some companies have been known to offer a break-fix service whilst calling it a managed service. If the quoted price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Further reading:

Interview Questions to Ask IT Support Companies – Part 1

Interview Questions to Ask IT Support Companies – Part 2

Choosing a Managed Service Provider