Freak weather events. Global pandemics. Supply chain gridlocks. Last year businesses experienced multiple waves of serious and disruptive events. Some were crippled by the unexpected. Others didn’t miss a beat.
Of those that fared well, many worked with third-party IT service companies known as managed service providers (MSP) to handle important security and operational tasks.
Think working with an MSP might be key for your business continuity, too? This primer covers what they offer and how to choose.
What is a Managed Service Provider?
Managed service providers (MSPs) offer businesses a way to outsource everyday IT services from server management to network maintenance. They handle the physical infrastructure as well as any specific apps the organisation requires.
Since their work can be handled remotely, it generally results in operation enhancement as well as overall cost savings. So long as it’s not a customer-facing task, these efficiency experts usually come out ahead when compared to other on-demand models.
“These efficiency experts usually come out ahead when compared to other on-demand models.”
Benefits to your business
The advantages of working with an MSP are multifold.
When a business initially engages a managed service provider, they’ll conduct a thorough review of its operational processes around everything from payroll to vendor relations. In doing so, they can identify areas of inefficiency and streamline different procedures throughout the organisation.
What other improvements can you expect?
- Let’s start with cost. If cashflow is a consideration (and really, when is it not) MSPs offer businesses insulation from the unexpected. Most charge a flat monthly fee that covers unplanned repairs or services. They also reduce the on-staff IT personnel and tools needed in-house.
- MSPs can make your business more cybersecure. They work to protect your network from attack and help implement disaster recovery plans to prevent data loss.
- They increase your uptime. 24/7 network monitoring is a proactive approach that keeps eyes on your system at all times. MSPs also perform necessary routine maintenance that helps avoid issues in the first place.
- Reporting overviews are another draw. The more insights decision-makers have, the better they can manage. MSPs provide a bird’s eye view of the entire enterprise and help with data analysis.
What to look for in an MSP
Whether it’s your first time using a managed service provider or you’re not happy with the one you have, consider these questions as you start your search.
- Does the MSP have different bundled offerings? All clients are different, and good MSPs understand that. They typically pre-package a few services together to accommodate specific needs, but don’t operate on an ad-hoc or break-fix approach.
- Do they bill up front or on a recurring basis? Some charge a fee once you sign with them and then bill you monthly. Whatever the payment terms, you should be invoiced at the same time each time. Read your contract and if there’s mention of fees outside this monthly scope, look elsewhere.
- How responsive are their technicians? You want to ensure the MSP employs expert technicians. Since they’re the ones who will be servicing your business’ greatest assets (your data and network), it’s important they’re dedicated and know what they’re doing. Remember that responsiveness should extend to their help desk services, too.
- Are their reviews plentiful and positive? A good managed service provider will have lots of public reviews across different platforms, in addition to customer testimonials. Use these to verify they have demonstrated value for other organisations who have hired them. Also look to see if they respond to negative reviews, and how. Sense them acting unprofessional? Move on.
In short, if your SMB could use some help keeping its IT infrastructure cyber safe and always on, an MSP should be the next call you make. Just do your research to make sure you’re getting a reputable tech at a fair price.
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