Many SMB owners hesitate to call Managed Service Providers (MSP) in to discuss the IT needs of their business, believing the cost may outweigh the benefits. The reality is that most businesses, however small, depend on IT for mission critical functionality, and waiting for the system to break is the most costly approach to managing an IT investment. A business that employs even a couple of workers can suffer significant losses if their networks go down or the hard drive on their computer fails. How would your productivity be affected by a system failure? How much would you be harmed if you lost information that is stored digitally? Calling in a MSP might be the most cost effective way to manage your current IT infrastructure and anticipate future needs before they become problems.
What a Managed Service Provider Offers the SMB Owner
Most reputable MSPs will give you free of charge an initial consultation in which they will assess the functionality and security of your system.
A 1st conversation will allow a MSP to:
- Inform you if another software program or different platform would better serve your needs.
- Advise you on the risks and benefits of shifting from a private server to the “cloud.”
- Help you anticipate how your IT needs might shift as your company grows.
Most importantly, the advice they give you will be keyed to your specific industry and company, and you have no obligation to enter into a long term contract.
However, there may be valuable services you discover you can afford through outsourcing. A basic service offered by MSPs through a monthly contract is updating and upgrading anti-virus software and monitoring your system 24/7. Larger businesses might benefit from additional services, but any contract with an MSP will be tailored to the company’s specific needs. Essentially, you pay for what you need and eliminate the risk of uncontrollable losses and costs.
The Value of a Relationship
In addition to the immediate benefit of an expert consultation, the act of establishing a relationship with a MSP can pay dividends down the road. If a crisis does occur, you have a contact who already knows your business and your IT system. You will not have to wait for days for a new company to return your call, or get stuck with the one MSP who can get to you that day. Because MSPs employ experts in a variety of platforms and technologies, you will have access to wide range of expertise to resolve the issue.
Every small business owner should take the time to become informed about what a MSP could do for his or her business. An initial consultation will give you a better idea of how your current IT infrastructure matches up with your needs. If gaps are discovered, it may be a good idea to get pro-active and partner with a managed service provider.