You started a business in the basement of your parent's house and it has taken several years, but you have grown to the point where you open a small office and even employee 15 employees now. While the growth is great, it also comes with a lot of responsibility and pivotal decisions. If you want to continue to be successful, you have to ensure your business will continue to move in the right direction.
Business owners understand the need to continuously improve their business processes to become more productive and efficient. In order to adapt to market changes and provide better service to customers, business owners need to sometimes make difficult decisions. One of these tough decisions that can impact your organization's daily workflow significantly is your business information technology management. Seemingly, this does not appear to bear much weight on your daily operations, but in fact can bear momentous consideration. The loss of a server can shut your business down for days. Small and mid-sized businesses often face the challenge of managing day-to-day IT needs. The decision to hire an internal IT technician to manage these needs or hire a vendor can be a difficult choice. A recent option that has arisen over the last few years for many small to mid-size businesses is a managed service provider.
Managed Service Provider
What is a managed service provider (MSP) and how can it benefit me? A managed service provider is a company that remotely manages a customer's IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a fee structure model. Many businesses are moving toward this model as it tends to be more cost-effective than hiring an internal IT technician. A managed service provider partners with security vendors to offer cybersecurity services, which can vary from anti-viruses to IP telephone services.
Businesses have started using MSP services to maintain uptime and save money. Hiring an IT technician tends to be more expensive than using a MSP services because you have to factor in the employee's fringe benefits (vacation and sick time, health benefits, retirement benefits, etc…) and payroll taxes as an additional expense to the employee's wages. Another major appeal of a MSP is preventing downtime. With cybercriminals on the rise, one ransomware attack and the associated downtime can cause an organization thousands of dollars in downtime and months of lasting effects from the attack. By working with a MSP provider, businesses can set up a disaster plan to minimize the impact if a situation were to occur.
Managed Service Provider Services
So what is typically included in a MSP structure? While services can vary, a typical managed service provider includes:
- Managed IT Tools (Microsoft, Email Hosting)
- IT Security (Anti-virus, Patch Management, Network Management)
- IT Assessment (Review of costs and suggestions for improvement of services)
- Data Backup (Server and workstation backups)
- Computer and Printer Management
There are several financial benefits to using managed IT services ranging from user productivity to predictable monthly costs. Dustin Bonn's article lists 8 benefits of using a managed service provider to assist your business' information technology needs. Most organizations recognize the need to focus on core business and and productivity gains. A MSP provider is able to help a business quickly adapt and implement new technology by providing expertise with hardware needs, databases, and networks. They stay up-to-date with the latest technology in order to best meet your company's needs.
Another perk to using a MSP is that they can deal with vendors on your behalf. They can serve a your main point of contact for third parties to escalate and resolve the issues promptly. This can save you the hassle of going back and forth with a vendor trying to resolve an issue and lets you focus on your job responsibilities.
As your business grows, a MSP can assist you in developing your infrastructure thus allowing you to be proactive and adapt to your growing needs. They can look out for you and try to prevent security breaches that can occur with more end users. As you can see, there are a lot of financial benefits to using a managed service provider for your small to mid-size business.
Questions to Ask Yourself
When considering your IT support, an organization should think about:
- Does your company suffer from delayed IT support? If your business uses the break/fix model, oftentimes, there is a significant delay in response time from a technician.
- Does your network ever go down or is slow? Network issues can really stall a company's productivity. Finding a professional to find and fix these issues can take time.
- Do employees report the same IT issues over and over? When multiple users are experiencing the same problem, a professional is often needed to uncover the underlying issue.
- Is your hardware or software outdated and in need of updates? Recognizing failing hardware can often prevent loss of data. Software updates tend to speed up an employees productivity.
- Have you ever lost data? Backing up your data can prevent hours of lost work.
These are just a few questions you should ask yourself when selecting the right IT options for your business. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, your business is likely missing a proactive IT support partner. Finding the right managed service provider is essential. Making sure your MSP understands your business operations and needs is key to a successful working relationship. Blue Ridge Technology focuses on these integral key relationships to find the right IT solutions for your business.