First emerging as the solution to increasingly complex technology environments in the 1990s, managed IT services have long been the go-to for businesses that want the experts to take care of their IT systems and security.
But what is a managed IT service provider, and how can it help your business?
What Is an IT Managed Services Provider?
Here’s a concise definition of managed IT services:
Managed IT service providers are third-parties that can oversee or augment the management of your business’s technology infrastructure from front to back, supportingy IT operations, strategy, budget, planning and more. Often more than just an extra pair of hands, they can also help to shape your IT vision.
The main reasons businesses use managed services for IT are to ensure business critical applications are always available, reduce costs, , boost workforce productivity and collaboration, improve security and increase access to new technologies by taking advantage of an agile team of dedicated IT experts.
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Managed IT Services: Description of Services
Managed service providers (MSPs) typically charge predictable monthly fees and focus on taking the burden of all or part of IT management off the internal team. Their services can vary from being generic to specific depending on a company’s requirements. Some managed services use cases include:
- Equipment monitoring and maintenance
- Help desk support
- Microsoft Office 365
- Systems management
- Remote infrastructure monitoring and management
- Network monitoring
- Cybersecurity services
- Cloud service management
- Communications support
- Business continuity and disaster recovery services
How Managed Services Work (and What You Gain)
Modern-day MSPs are more inclined to take a proactive approach to maintenance and management so that systems stay up-to-date and online, rather than wait until they break so they can fix them.
With the advent of cloud technology, MSPs have also become more service-oriented. They can now offer access to specific applications “as a service”, e.g. “Software as a Service”, aka SaaS, so that your business can scale rapidly without needing to worry about capacity and costs.
Any business that has expanded beyond 15 employees should begin considering managed IT services. Once the company grows to that size, looking after IT can be a hindrance that eats into core business activities. Furthermore, if your business has reached that number of employees, there is likely more nuance required in your long-term IT strategy. Larger organizations use managed services to augment their in-house IT teams by providing expertise in strategic areas like cloud management and cybersecurity, or off-loading routine tasks like help desk support.
What Managed Services Provider Is Right for Your Business?
Choosing an MSP can be a more challenging task than deciding you need one. There are some tried-and-tested methods to selecting an MSP that is vetted and appropriate for your business:
- Assess your IT systems: Before contacting MSPs, you should put together a report that shows your current IT landscape and what you would like to improve and outsource. The report should include your budget, resources, workflows and existing infrastructure and assets. This is an important first step because it will help you to understand exactly what your business needs and to what extent an MSP is required.
- Make a shortlist and contact MSPs for an audit of your IT systems: Do your research and due diligence and make a list of MSPs you will contact. Tell them that you’re looking to get an assessment of your IT environment and their views on what can be managed and improved. During this step, you should get a sense of the MSP’s experience and knowledge.
- Get a plan and an estimate: Ask all of the MSPs you’ve contacted to give you a plan and a cost estimate for the services they are recommending. When reviewing the plans, pay attention to the services they offer, whether they can scale, and if they support all your needs. Keep an eye on whether this MSP will be able to stick with you through periods of major growth.
- Compare the proposals: The last step is to compare what the MSPs are offering. Price is an obvious factor, but don’t forget that you get what you pay for in most cases. Look out for MSPs that have provided proof points of their prior success and those that show a high level of confidence that they have understood your business situation and are ready to take the reins of your IT.
Make the Most of Your Managed IT Services (Meaning How You Can Maximize ROI)
Choosing your MSP is just the start of the relationship, and there are some important things to remember to ensure it remains mutually beneficial. These include:
- Keeping them accountable with service level agreements (SLAs) around timelines, uptime and reporting requirements.
- Staying up to date on the strategic IT plan so that you are aware of the impact that upgrades, addition and configurations will have on your business.
- Being available to the MSP when they need to alert you to issues or make recommendations regarding the strategic direction of your IT plan.
What Are IT Managed Services’ Biggest Benefits
Now that you know how to establish and maintain a contract with a managed IT services provider, you can enjoy reading about some of the benefits to expect. Some examples of how managed IT services can help your business include:
- Hands-off IT: For smaller organizations without IT teams you won’t have to spend time building, managing and training an IT team or worrying about the status and security of your IT environment. It will be a huge weight off your shoulders knowing that the company’s technology is in capable hands.
- IT augmentation: For larger organizations with IT teams, you can access hard to find experts in critical areas like cybersecurity, cloud services and business intelligence. You can also off-load routine tasks like help desk and hardware support so your IT team can use their time for more strategic initiatives.
- Improved efficiency: any dedicated IT staff you do keep on board will be able to commit all their time to innovation and revenue-generating activities. Furthermore, your MSP should be able to optimize your infrastructure in a way that increases productivity and reduces costs.
- Better uptime and security: MSPs have the knowledge needed to ensure a business’s systems stay online and that hackers and threats are kept at bay. They also tend to offer 24×7 schedules, meaning you won’t need to worry about them not being around in a crisis.
- Upskilling your company: MSPs can bring ready-made expertise to your organization that goes far beyond what you might be willing to pay for in a full-time employee. They are a great way to fill in knowledge and skills gaps and take your business to the next level.
We Don’t Just Provide IT Services, We Support the Dreams of the Doers
Hopefully you have got a good idea about what are managed IT services and how they can help your business succeed. Not all MSPs are alike: some differ in their pricing models, others in how much value they actually offer for your business.
At Netsurit, we ask ourselves something simple: are we making a positive difference for our clients? Find out how we help businesses like yours thrive, and why we’ve been named a Top 501 MSP award winner since 2009.