Managed service providers – popularly known as MSPs – have grown significantly in vogue in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why; with all the technology that the modern business relies on, internal IT teams are becoming overloaded and unable to cope.
This is particularly true of small and medium-sized enterprises because IT is an expense that few of them can afford – hiring IT staff doesn’t help the organization reach its customers or improve its products. In other words, it’s an internal expense and cost that the owner would rather spend elsewhere.
By working with an MSP, a business gains access to a wealth of technical expertise and support, without the need to pay full salaries to a team of staff. Until the organization is big enough that it can turn IT into a point of competitive differentiation, the MSP is the ideal solution for a growing business.
Questions to ask your MSP
Not all MSPs provide equivalent services and it’s important to find the one that can address your specific IT concerns. Some of the benefits that you should gain access to through your Managed service providers include:
1) Improved security: Managed Service Providers (MSPs) should bring industry best practice around security, and be able to conduct a thorough audit of the environment to identify areas around risk. In recognizing that this is the biggest tech issue facing many organizations, and the one that they’re often least equipped to proactively monitor, an MSP should be able to show thought leadership in this area.
2) Proactivity around innovation: This is important; the best MSPs do more than keep the proverbial lights on. They’ll continually engage with their customers at a strategic level to show them how to do IT better, and adopt new ideas such as AI and automation, within their means. A good MSP sees the relationship as a long term one and takes a stake in driving positive change and innovation within their customer’s business.
3) Cost savings: Many companies that partner with MSPs keep some internal IT staff on board – often to help engage with the MSP itself. Ultimately, however, the MSP is a cost reduction exercise, allowing the partner company to run with maximum efficiency.
4) Provide remote support: It’s no good having the support of an MSP if there is a technology issue and it’ll take them hours, or even days, to be on-site to address it. MSPs should be accessible instantly with a phone call, and able to provide remote support. Better still are the MSPs that can be proactive through their systems and integrations with their customers, and proactively find and address issues before the customer is even aware of it.
5) Improved stability of the systems and environment: All of this cumulates with an IT system that works better for the customer – uptime is better, faults are less common, and this means better morale within the office and an improved ability to get things done.
To put into context just how important these things are; well over half of small businesses (78 percent) are targeted by cybercriminals, and when a hack is successful, 60 percent of those companies close within six months.
When IT does experience an outage – whether it’s the result of a hack or the systems have simply failed, the cost is as high as $427 per minute. MSPs are such great value for businesses because the services that they provide are specifically tailored to addressing these threats and challenges.
Finding the right MSP
Many MSPs IT service providers are not large businesses themselves – by nature, the better MSPs focus on customer service and deep engagement rather than rapid growth and maintaining a large base of clients.
The best MSPs are not necessarily the biggest names, and there is a more useful metric for determining which managed service providers is right for your business; look at their client list. MSPs that are servicing healthy businesses, who haven’t appeared in the news for security breaches or other technical issues, are MSPs doing the right thing by their clients.