I’ve been a business leader in the Fairfax Virginia IT service industry for over 15 years. Through my experience as a consultant, sales rep, CIO and now CEO, I’ve had the privilege of working with some great IT firms in this area. I’ve also had the unfortunate disappointment of working with some real losers. If you’ve ever shopped for IT services in Fairfax, then you know there are countless dozens of different IT service firms to choose from. From the individual IT consultant to the nationwide IT conglomerates, they’re all only a “Google” away. The challenge is understanding what kind of firm you’re dealing with and what are the advantages & disadvantages of working with each type. In today’s short post, I want to take a moment to answer these questions in hopes of helping you connect with an Fairfax Virginia IT service company that fits you and your business like a glove.
Type #1 – The Independent IT Consultant
This category represents most vendors and is the quintessential one-guy/gal shop typically working from their home in Fairfax, Virginia. The consultant is usually very well educated, knowledgeable and has extensive technical experience. They are typically great at problem solving and technical tasks. They will also exhibit strong verbal, written and interpersonal skills. Typical rates for independent consultants in the Northern Virginia area vary but are typically less than $95/hour. All of these benefits can be a huge value for companies looking for IT services in Northern Virginia.
Some of the drawbacks in dealing with independent consultants are availability, timeliness, lack of a backup and lack of technical depth. Early in my career, I worked as an independent consultant and can attest to the strain that it puts on your schedule. There were times that I would be on the road driving from Tysons to Alexandria to Fairfax…in one day. This travel time directly affect’s an independent consultant’s timeliness and ultimately can affect the level of IT service your Fairfax business receives.
Another big challenge in working with an independent IT consultant is the lack of a backup. When your IT consultant decides to take a vacation, either the consultant will provide remote support or your Fairfax, VA business will suffer without IT services while the consultant is away.
Type #2 – The Mid-Sized IT Service Company
These are your small-to-mid sized IT services firms that are typically owned and managed by local Fairfax business owners. Qualatech falls smack-dab in the middle of this category. The mid-sized IT services companies are staffed with as few as 5 to upwards of 20 field engineers and provides outsourced IT services to small and mid-sized companies. Again, the rates can be all over the map depending on countless factors. In Qualatech’s case, our rates range from $40 – $135 per hour depending on what kind and how much service your firm needs.
The benefits of dealing with a mid-sized IT firm are many. To begin with, most mid sized IT service companies are able to provide a bench of engineers. The value in this depth is threefold: 1. You’ll have a backup in the event your primary engineer takes a vacation or a few sick days. 2. You’ll have resources on which to draw if you tech runs into a technical problem that is beyond his skill set and 3. You’ll enjoy the benefit of faster response times if your engineer is tied-up across town, it’s easy to call on a backup to get the support you need.
Some other benefits of mid-sized firms are that they typically bring value-added services to the table. In the case of Qualatech, we include cloud backup & monitoring at no additional charge for our monthly IT service contracts. In addition, we offer convenience services such as online invoice payment and a ticketing system that tracks your services in an easy & convenient location.
With the many benefits, of course there are some drawbacks to mid-sized firms. One significant drawback is that not all mid-sized firms are created equal. Some mid-sized IT service companies don’t offer value-added services like Qualatech. Some firms use a fixed-fee model that tends to cost more than double what you would spend at Qualatech. Lastly, some Fairfax mid-sized IT service companies utilize low-end talent. Qualatech only hires field engineers with more than 5 years proven field experience.
Type #3 – Nationwide IT Conglomerates
These are the big-daddy IT consulting firms that have a nationwide reach. They often provide IT support specifically to Fortune 500 or the Federal Government. Rates can vary; however, most of their bill rates begin at around $150/hour.
If you’re a Fairfax, VA small business owner or manager, unfortunately, there aren’t many benefits in outsourcing your IT services to one of these large companies. The primary reason is cost and service. The costs are significantly higher than the aforementioned firm types. Also, because you will not be a significant account for a huge global firm, the level of service you receive will not be the same as if you were a large or government account.
So there you have it: a short overview of the different types of IT service companies in Fairfax, VA. If you’re a small and/or mid-sized business owner in the Northern Virginia area please give us a call or request a quote for more information about how Qualatech can save your company time and money by outsourcing the management of your network with us.