As a business owner, your long to-do list includes everything from accounting and payroll to information technology (IT) services and making sure your company provides a website for your customers to use. You know you need an IT infrastructure and staff to maintain it, but that solution just isn’t in your budget or part of your business model.
You might be able to muddle along on your own for a while, turning to a help desk when things get difficult, but this isn’t the best IT solution available. This is where a managed service provider (MSP) can help alleviate your stress with the IT support you need to keep your company running smoothly. Read on for more information on whether hiring a managed service provider is the right move for your information technology needs.
What Is a Managed Service Provider?
A managed service provider is a business that maintains and services its customer’s IT infrastructure. Most MSPs can also manage end-user systems, and are unique because they can handle all of this support remotely. You may hear them called cloud service providers — some people use the terms interchangeably — but the major difference is that the latter only acts as an internet services company and requires a service level agreement (SLA).
A little history:
- MSPs began as application service providers in the 1990s and have since evolved to the modern set up.
- They started out offering remote application hosting, which led to the creation of cloud computing and played a role in inspiring companies that offered IT services over the internet.
- As managed service providers began business, they offered to maintain servers and office networks through remote management and monitoring.
- Now, MSPs tend to specialize in a variety of IT support jobs, including data center management, and industries, such as financial services. There are managed service providers that specialize in printing services while others concentrate on cybersecurity.
The goal of all MSP is to help your company avoid downtime with an IT solution.
What Types of Systems Is an MSP Responsible For?
From disaster recovery to break-fix services, there is a lot under the umbrella of IT needs and management with which your company might need help. You need to know what to expect from an IT services company when you hire it. Here’s a look at the systems that management services take responsibility for:
Computer programs and software amass a massive amount of data, and it can take you a lot of time trying to figure out what it all means for your company. An MSP that specializes in data management and data storage can help you by analyzing what the information means. Some can even look for patterns and trends in the data.
Your MSP service can provide this information to a specific department or make it available to all your employees. You can then use it to plan cost-effective marketing campaigns or to create a product your customer needs.
From malware to viruses, there are many dangers to your computer and company network. Small businesses can experience downtime and lose on average $200,000 from cyberattacks. Your IT services provider offers risk prevention and security management to keep your infrastructure safe with remote monitoring.
Your MSP might use cybersecurity software to protect your software programs. This software is always looking for viruses and malware that might be lurking in incoming emails and around your hard drive, then running software updates and patches. This ensures your software is up to date with all the cybersecurity possible. You don’t want to leave any openings for a cyberattack.
While going through their normal workday, your staff members might encounter problems with a software program or receive a prompt that they don’t understand. Without an IT staff, your company needs computer support it can turn to for quick help and answers for business continuity.
Your team always knows where to find that fast computer help when you have IT support, and can mean your company avoids downtime due to software issues even without an in-house IT department. You can still enjoy fast response times with IT outsourcing, and the right partner might mean even forget you don’t have an IT staff.
Networks and Infrastructure
Infrastructure and networks are the bones of your business. When you have an issue with your network, all work comes to a screaming halt. Your MSP can help you set up cloud computing or use a hybrid cloud so you don’t need too many software programs or can remote work. They can also come to your office to set up your IT infrastructure.
Your managed services provider can create mobile networks for your team, too, which allows them to connect from a sales call, home, or wherever they roam and increases your uptime. Backup storage is another service your MSP can provide. By managing your data storage, the MSP makes it a snap for your employees to save work and documents from anywhere.
Some MSPs also offer your company software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings that can work in the cloud and keep space available in your company’s computers’ RAM. Some of the software helps you with financial services while others can tackle your customer service needs. You usually sign up for SaaS and pay by the month or by the year, and you also get software updates and patches installed as soon as they become available. This means your staff is always working with the best and most up-to-date programs.
As a small business owner, you know communication is key to successful operations. If you can’t communicate with your clients and staff, work comes to a screaming halt. A managed service provider that specializes in communication will take care of your video, voice, and data communication. Your MSP will set up communication that can involve two and more parties and ensure that they can do connect by phone, computer, or mobile device.
What Happens When Something Goes Wrong, and You Don’t Have an MSP to Fix It?
When your business is running smoothly and customers are placing orders on your website, you don’t think about an IT staff or MSP. There is a high cost involved when something goes wrong and you don’t have a managed service provider watching your back, however. This can include:
- Companies were losing an average of $100,000 per hour when their computers and websites went down in 2017, according to Forbes. Your average might be lower as an SMB, but do you want to lose that much business to downtime?
- When your network and website go down, your clients begin to lose faith in your company. If you experience downtime frequently enough or long enough, they may go to a competitor for goods and services.
An MSP is an investment in your company when you don’t have the funds to hire IT staff. You want to make sure you always have help when you need it.
Benefits of Hiring an MSP
Before you start looking for an MSP, you want to know the benefits of hiring IT support. Here are some of the perks of hiring a managed services provider:
- IT support when you need it, without the expense of hiring employees
- Security for your network and website
- Security for your data
- Maintenance and updates in a timely manner
- Less downtime when something happens
- A disaster recovery plan
Your MSP has a vested interest in keeping your IT infrastructure and network up and running smoothly. You know how important it is to keep earning your clients’ trust, and you don’t want to lose it during an expected period of downtime. From communication to data management, a managed service provider might just be the answer for your SMB.
Contact Option3Ventures today to discuss your MSP-related questions, or to speak with an expert about other cybersecurity investing questions you might have.