What is a Managed Service Provider?
A managed IT services provider (MSP) is most often an information technology (IT) services provider that manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to its clients proactively. Depending on the arrangement with the client, the MSP may determine the services needed to ensure security and continuity of operation.
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A Few Reasons Why You Need a Managed Service Provider?
1. Maximize Systems Availability
Having a strategic partner when the lights go out allows you to continue to manage your business while a professional team immediately begins getting things back on line fast. The longer your business is offline the longer it's losing productivity, revenue and the team is losing moral and confidence things will get back to normal without and the added burden of overtime.
2. Create or Improve your Security Posture
Believe it or not there are many small and medium sized businesses that haven't a clue what it means to have a security posture. If you are one of them, then sorry if this seems harsh, but you need to get on it right now! Just having a modem and a promise that someone else is watching the store shouldn't make you sleep any easier. In today's world you need to know who is actively managing you the gateway to your business and you sure need to be aware of the type of threats that are actively trying to get in - and they are trying to get in, no matter if you're your the local mega hospital or the flower shop in the lobby. Any MSP in business today WILL REQUIRE it's customers to take a minimum set of precautions and in some cases they will require additional steps if the business is considered a high value target:
- Comprehensive security management of all network devices
- Proactive software patching and updating to close security loopholes
- Efficiently delivering the latest threat intelligence
- 24/7 network security monitoring provided a security operations center (SOC)
3. IT Support for a Flat Rate
There is a difference between "Break-Fix" and Managed Services, and typically that is the approach to doing business in general. The classic break-fix model assumes the local computer store is just waiting around for your call and they will drop everything to help you, but not until they confirm their hourly rate and how much time they can allocate to your business.
When you are working with a quality MSP, you will be in an evolving partnership working regularly on what is important to your business and the MSP is actively monitoring and being proactive to manage your systems. They will probably call you to let you know about an outage they are planning to take corrective action so you don't have the issues in the first place. This would all be done for the same rate every month so the client can have a predictable and manageable budget.
Generally this type of arrangement removes the friction of discussing costs whenever something needs to be done, you just know they will be there and get the job done for a single monthly rate. Most quality MSP organizations will setup monthly or quarterly business reviews to discuss quality or service, number of calls or tickets, changes that may be required to keep the network secure and this is also where the rate is discussed.
4. Don't Be Clouded By The Past While Building Your Technology Roadmap
Being honest and open about your technology journey is important when starting a new partnership with your MSP. It is critical to have a handle on short, near and long term vision as well as ensuring an understanding of where you came from as well. The value isn't necessarily about repeating the past, but is more about knowing how decisions where made and preventing "group think" and the limitations that tend to build walls and preventing the proper research to new options and possibilities.
Having a well defined vision and building the roadmap to support the development and implementation of that vision improves the efficiencies and predictability for budgeting, staffing, operations and growth of the company.
5. Always "On"
The business of managing many client environments and providing a superior customer experience has lead most MSP's to develop or purchase a diverse set of tools which provide deep insights into the overall health of their client environment (both inside and outside), networks and devices.
A quality MSP can seamlessly provide 24 hour a day, 7 days a week care using the tools they have in place with the trained staff to back that up. The client no longer needs to plan around holiday's or vacations and just needs to focus on their business and do their part to foster and evolve the partnership.