Managed Service Providers (MSP) are no longer an all-or-nothing option for a small business. If you already have an in-house IT department and you’re wondering what a MSP can offer you, the answer is: a lot! Increasingly SMB owners see an advantage to coupling their in-house technology resources with services provided by a MSP to get the best of both worlds. Here are 5 commonly-occurring scenarios in which small businesses profit from a relationship with a MSP.
Scenario #1 IT Expertise Compromised by Routine Tasks
Small Businesses often hire one or more IT experts and they are expected to wear multiple hats, from acting as the CIO and having the overall IT vision of the company to helping them stay abreast of best practices within their industry, to ensure that they are getting the most out of their IT investment and also providing the support needed to keep end users productive. Too often these experts get bogged down by the day-to-day support of the business. The details of routine maintenance, installing system upgrades and anti-virus patches, and providing help and support to other employees can eat up entire days, leaving your business without the leadership it needs to thrive.
Ask your IT guys how much time they spend actually working on the jobs they were hired to do. Worse, you’re likely overpaying for having an expert perform low-level tasks! A MSP can get these experts back to work and focused on the bigger picture by providing cost-effective basic services such as routine system monitoring and software upgrades; training on new systems for your employees; helpdesk support; and back-up protection.
Because the MSPs need to stay competitive, they invest in the latest technology and actively investigate best practices for these day-to-day IT needs. They can provide your IT expert with weekly or monthly reports on the functions they perform to ensure your IT expert these functions are running smoothly. You can be sure you’re getting the best service at the lowest cost.
Scenario #2: Additional Expertise Needed
On the other hand, sometimes your experts aren’t in-house. IT employees with years of experience and expertise in multiple platforms don’t come cheap. Perhaps your IT department is a single person who takes care of backing up your system, updating the software and fixing the day to day issues , but who doesn’t know much beyond the system you have and who can’t give you the long-range vision to ensure that you’re anticipating your company’s future development. A MSP can provide you with expertise only when you need it.
MSPs offer a service called “virtual CIO” or vCIO in which their team of experts, versed in multiple platforms, technologies and the latest software, develop a plan to meet the current and future needs of your business. They can give you a plan complete with budget projections and work with your in-house support person to help them understand the bigger picture and planning. Instead of keeping someone in-house year-round, you can have the vCIO provided by the meet with you once or twice a year and review the plans and reports to keep the SMB owner in the know and work on the big picture.
Scenario #3: Transition Periods
Perhaps you are upgrading your hardware or software and your employees need training in the new system. An MSP has the personnel and materials to offer an on-site training session for your entire company. Or you are considering moving some data processing to the cloud, but you’re (rightly) concerned about security. Since an MSP staffs experts in security who know which outside vendors can be trusted, it can give you accurate, impartial information. A consultation before you send your data outside the company will protect you from potential disaster down the road. As you expand or shift your business, you may need the kind of one-time help that an MSP can offer.
Scenario #4: Security Advising
Unless you employ an expert on IT security—or you’ve made no investment in IT or in data—your company will benefit from a consultation with a MSP on security. Technology is changing so rapidly and the cloud just adds more confusion. Many of the new opportunities present new risks that need to be considered. It’s difficult for even the best IT employees to stay up-to-date. Are you backing up your data correctly? Is the back-up storage itself secure? Are you routinely running test restores? How vulnerable is your data now that employees are accessing the company system through handheld devices? A security breach or system failure can sink a SMB so it’s vital that you are confident your IT and the data on it is secure.
Scenario #5: Utilizing IT Tools
There are modern day tools that help any IT department or solo IT person but these tools cost money and are another time sink to get installed, learn, deploy and support. Tools like RMM (remote monitoring and management) and electronic ticketing systems are vital to the modern day IT person and provide valuable reporting to the MSP owner. Any MSP has these tools in place and need to be experts in these systems to compete in today’s market. These tools are expensive and you can save a lot of money but using a MSP tools that they can extend to your internal IT team or person for a fraction of the cost. Let the MSP pay the yearly maintenance fees, update the systems and provide support on the products instead of your in-house team having to learn and support another piece of software.