Today’s businesses demand more from their IT departments than ever before. A team that can repair and maintain your systems is no longer good enough. You also need people who can anticipate problems before they arise, get new applications up and running quickly, and prevent outages from happening in the first place. If you’re reading this, it’s likely your organization doesn’t have an IT department that can meet all of these needs. Luckily, a solution is ready and waiting to help: an IT managed service provider (MSP). These vendors can do almost everything your in-house team probably cannot, saving you time and money while ensuring that technology always meets your company’s unique demands. Let’s take a closer look at what an IT managed service provider is, what they can do for you, and how you can find the right one for your business.
An IT managed service provider is a company that manages one or more of your business’s IT systems, usually on a recurring retainer basis. The MSP is not only responsible for repairing and maintaining your systems but also actively preventing problems from happening in the first place. The main benefit of outsourcing your IT to an MSP is that you can get all the benefits of having in-house staff without having the budget to hire new employees. Instead, you can focus your limited resources on what matters most: running your business. IT managed service providers are also experts in their field, meaning they can do things your team might not be able to do. They can offer any number of services, including support for your whole IT environment, cybersecurity, cloud migration, core infrastructure management, desktop as a service, and much more. IT managed services providers can also help with more than just technology. They often also help hire and train new employees to ensure you have the right skill sets in-house.
There are two main reasons to use an IT managed service provider. The first reason is that you don’t have the budget to hire new employees. Managed services providers can help by handling your systems’ issues, freeing your employees to focus on other, more critical tasks. This is especially true if your business has a particular vulnerability or slow-moving aspect. Managed services can also be a good idea if your company is undergoing a digital transformation. This could mean that you’re moving some of your systems to the cloud, or it could mean that you’re restructuring your departments and want to move some IT responsibilities to other teams. In any of these cases, managed services can help make the transition as seamless as possible so that it doesn’t disrupt your employees or your business.
Because IT managed service providers vary widely in their services, it can be hard to know where to even begin when selecting one. There are, however, a few essential questions to ask when choosing an MSP.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in IT. And some MSPs offer a comprehensive range of services, while others focus on specific elements such as information security. What matters most is that the IT managed service provider you choose has the proven capacity to serve your particular needs. Therefore, looking for an MSP that understands your industry, your unique business needs, and any specialized systems, software, and regulatory compliance that may apply to your business is essential.
When you decide to outsource IT, the managed service provider you choose should exude expertise and experience. Though a freelance IT consultant might be able to help a small business, organizations scaling or managing complex network systems need more. Certifications, licenses, and accreditations are all excellent indicators of an MSP’s capabilities and level of expertise in their respective field.
If you only look at an MSP’s certifications and qualifications, you might not be able to get a sense of their professionalism accurately. That’s why referrals and testimonials and critical. Ask their customers if you want to determine whether an IT managed service provider is credible, dependable, and trustworthy.
Your network may go down for several reasons, which can impact employee productivity and cripple your reputation and revenue. Worst-case scenario, significant downtime can even force you to shut down your business. Therefore, the MSP you choose should offer 24/7 monitoring to proactively prevent and detect early signs of imminent cyberattacks or critical systems’ failure. If spotted early, your MSP can mitigate these issues quickly before they can cause damage.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) establish agreed-upon standards for quality, scope, responsibilities, and delivery time. The IT managed service provider you select should provide well-documented principles and policies that are responsive and evolve with the service to guide the successful delivery of service and ensure continual improvement.
Technology changes rapidly, and so does your business. Look for an MSP that makes a concerted effort to keep its team educated and trained on the latest innovations in information technology and its systems.
An IT managed service provider is critical for helping businesses stay secure, seize opportunities, strategically expand, and support end users and customers. Asking the above questions when selecting an MSP will help ensure that the one you choose is a profitable asset, not a costly liability.