Is there such a thing as an On-Call IT Contractor (in Los Angeles area)?
May 5, 2014 11:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm helping my friend grow his small business. Things are going great except that we're at the awkward stage where we're too busy for me and the ops manager to handle the internal IT and Web stuff anymore, but can't quite justify hiring someone to take it over full time. I'd like to hire someone to be our on-call IT guy. Pay them a small retainer, and get billed by the hour.

It's 2014. There are tons of other businesses that are in the same situation. I'm guessing that someone has already started such a business - with a snappy name, and sans a vowel or two. Unfortunately, such a business seems impervious to Google. "IT" "contractor" "on-call"? I haven't figured out a useful way to search for what I'm looking for.

We're in Pasadena, and I have a lot of CalTech connections, so plan B is to post an ad there and find a student who wants to be our on-call help for a couple of years for extra money. I mention this because this seems like a better idea than a Craigslist ad or Elance or anything like that.

...and because I have this nagging feeling that someone has already got exactly the solution I'm looking for - and that I've heard of it, but can't remember the specifics
posted by Anoplura to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think "consulting" is the word you need. IT consultant pasadena
posted by jaguar at 11:56 PM on May 5, 2014

Look for Managed Service Providers.
posted by drzoon at 1:54 AM on May 6, 2014

Short answer: Yes. Source: I do exactly this. An MSP is a great place to start.
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:33 AM on May 6, 2014

A lot of ISP's will provide all those services -- I used to work for these guys and they have presence in California, but any business focused ISP will handle a lot of that for you.
posted by empath at 4:54 AM on May 6, 2014

Something to keep in mind is that it might not actually save you any money. You're going to overpay for pretty much everything if you get a contractor to set it up and manage it for you.
posted by empath at 4:56 AM on May 6, 2014

empath, 'overpay' compared to what?
posted by Wild_Eep at 5:11 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Overpay was probably the wrong word. It's cheaper to buy and manage your own gear if you have the time. There is probably a sweet spot where leasing cisco gear and paying a few hundred dollars an hour for support makes sense, but looking at how much we billed people when I did that sort of thing was physically painful sometimes.
posted by empath at 5:56 AM on May 6, 2014

Still way cheaper than paying someone $75k a year (with benefits). He's already stated he doesn't have the time.

I've done paid consulting, and I've hired consultants. I once spent 16 hours on a problem, gave up, hired a consultant that did it in 20 minutes. I didn't feel like I'd overpaid at all.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:58 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nearly every small company I've worked for that wasn't a tech company had a floating "IT Guy" who worked for some IT consulting group that managed the routers and networking for the office. It might seem like a waste of money if you're a tech-savvy person who can do this work, but lot of businesses are too busy managing their clients to learn about routers.

I think you'll do just fine.
posted by deathpanels at 6:04 AM on May 6, 2014

If you just need Windows server and desktop/workstation IT help, there are tons of small 1-5 person IT companies that provide hourly services. Just Google "IT services" or "IT consulting" by location or look on Yelp ("IT services").
posted by Dansaman at 8:00 AM on May 6, 2014

You absolutely do not want, nor need, someone in-house unless you have very needy users requiring a lot of help desk support or 100+ employees to support. A single in house person is a big expense, and still doesn't do you any good when they are sick, on vacation, or as we've seen in several cases: they hold you hostage.

As someone who helps run a managed services business who does just what it is you are talking about, there should be dozens of providers in your area.

As always, your mileage will vary and the quality of these providers varies dramatically. What you really want is guaranteed response time. Don't fall into the trap of finding "a computer guy to fix your stuff" because it's usually some guy working out of his house and you will rarely be a priority of his if there are bigger fish out there.

Guess what happens when you have an emergency at the same time as another customer of his...

Sure I'm speaking my own book, but yes, it's absolutely worth the money if your business depends on technology. It's the same if you have heavy legal requirements and keep an attorney on retainer versus in house: worth every penny if it keeps you running and profitable.
posted by tgrundke at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2014

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