What You Need to Know About a Managed Service Provider (MSP)
Have you ever taken the time to consider all the moving pieces an IT team has to manage in the average business?
From cloud servers to data security and from phone networks to internet printers, a tech’s job is never done. And if you’re a business owner who’s been trying to manage your IT alone, you know this fact all too well.
Thankfully, there’s a better way to take care of your IT needs. A managed service provider can take the burden of IT administration off your hands without you having to hire an in-house tech.
Read on to find out what an MSP is and how they can benefit your business.
What Is a Managed Service Provider?
A managed service provider (MSP) is an organization that remotely monitors and manages its customers’ IT needs. They often operate on a monthly or annual subscription or a pay-as-you-go basis. This allows them to take a proactive approach to IT management—not only putting out fires but preventing them as well.
An MSP may care for any part of a business’s IT infrastructure. This can include individual computers or workstations, internet or cloud server security, printers, or VoIP phone units. For some businesses, working with a managed IT service provider can entirely replace the need for an IT department.
Types of Managed IT Services
If you asked a random sample of businesspeople if they were familiar with managed IT services, many of them would say yes. However, they would likely give you very different definitions of what an MSP does.
And it’s no wonder, considering the wide range of services available. Each company has its own specialties, but here’s a quick breakdown of common managed IT services your MSP may offer.
1. Cloud Services
Backing up your important files in the cloud adds an important second layer of data security in case the local copies are compromised by a virus or natural disaster. An MSP can coordinate data transfers and maintain security on their own cloud-hosted server.
2. Managed Print Services
Printers that are a part of an Internet of Things (IoT) network can send notifications to your MSP whenever they’re out of ink or need to be serviced. Techs will get an alert and can respond immediately, ensuring that you have minimal downtime.
3. Remote Security Monitoring
Viruses and malware don’t always strike during business hours. That’s why 24/7 remote monitoring is important. If a device is compromised, the monitoring software can automatically disconnect it from the network to avoid spreading it to other workstations.
4. Tech Support
Many MSPs offer an online help desk or tech support phone line to answer your day-to-day questions. If a program or device isn’t working as it’s supposed to, they can walk you through steps to repair the problem or send a tech out to take a look at it.
Who Uses MSPs?
Businesses of all sizes make use of managed IT services. Because they tend to offer per-device prices, subscriptions, and service level agreements (SLAs), MSPs can be scaled to fit any company’s needs.
Small to mid-sized businesses may benefit the most from managed IT services. A survey by Clutch found that about 69% of small businesses had outsourced at least some portion of their IT to a service provider as of 2016.
While they value reliable technology and digital security, most small businesses don’t have the budget to fund an in-house IT department. As an added bonus, the subscription service model helps to ensure they’re always protected while avoiding any unforeseen costs.
But large businesses, like manufacturers and government agencies, use MSPs as well. They often outsource a specific task, like printer management, to supplement the support from their in-house IT team.
Choosing the Best MSP
There isn’t one type of MSP company that’s best for every single business. The best MSP is the one that fits your budget and can scale their services to match your business’s dynamic needs.
When comparing managed IT providers, here are a few questions to keep in mind.
1. Do They Have Good Customer Reviews?
Reading past customer testimonials is one of the first things you should do before entering into any business relationship. But make sure to go beyond the reviews posted on their website. Check out customer feedback on Google and their social media profiles to start.
2. What Are Their Business Hours and Availability?
Many MSPs offer 24/7 remote monitoring services—but don’t confuse that with 24/7 helpdesk support. Remote monitoring takes care of itself, so there isn’t always someone waiting by the phone or computer to answer your questions. Make sure to find out about availability for support ahead of time as you don’t want to find yourself in a working relationship with a provider you can’t ever get ahold of.
3. How Much Will It Cost?
Before contacting any potential MSPs, make sure you’ve drawn up a detailed budget for how much you can spend on IT services. Then, find a provider who will work with you to create a plan based upon it. If at all possible, enter into an agreement that’s both predictable (no surprise fees) and scalable as your needs change.
4. What Services Do They Offer?
If you only need someone to manage your VoIP network or data security, do your research to find an IT provider that specializes in those particular services. But if you’re looking for more comprehensive support, be sure to look for a company with a wide range of experience.
5. Are They a Good Fit?
Finally, talk to any MSPs you’d like to work with to make sure they’re a good fit before entering into an agreement. Confirm that they’ve served businesses similar to your own, have an understanding of your industry, and are a good culture fit with your own staff. You’ll be working closely with their team of techs, so it’s important to gauge ahead of time if the relationship will last.
Check out this blog post to find out more about choosing the right managed service provider for your business.
Is a Managed IT Service Provider the Right Choice for Your Business?
If you’re tired of trying to DIY your business’s IT, it’s time to look into a managed IT services provider. Teaming up with the right MSP can help your business run smoother and more efficiently than ever before.
For more tips on using tech to grow your company, head over to our SEO & Business archives.