Enlisting the help of a managed IT services provider is a common way for companies to offload some or all of the burden of managing their technology infrastructure so they can stay focused on their core business. The best managed IT service providers (MSPs) combine extensive experience with IT best practices and procedures with technical expertise across a wide range of specialties, and are able to offer predictable pricing models that provide a compelling option for companies considering IT outsourcing.
A good MSP should be able to handle the vast majority of your IT services needs, including the design, deployment, and management of data center and cloud-based solutions, the creation and testing of disaster recovery and business continuity plans, the establishment of stringent cybersecurity standards and practices, and the provision of end-user support services (i.e a help desk). In addition, MSPs can offer service levels far beyond those that a typical small in-house IT team can realistically support, including: round-the-clock monitoring and alerting of systems and networks, proactive maintenance, and rapid incident response governed by a clear Service Level Agreement (SLA). The remainder of this article will explore some of the major benefits of managed IT services in more depth.
8 of the Biggest Benefits of Managed IT Services
1. Access to Experience and Expertise
Among the top benefits of managed IT services is that you immediately get connected to a team of experts that possess a broad range of technical skills and extensive experience managing complex IT environments. This depth of IT expertise and experience is difficult to replicate and generally out-of-reach for most small and medium-sized businesses.
Having access to top-level IT expertise and experience is the best way to ensure that your infrastructure can support your business objectives. Of course, access to high-level engineers won’t do you any good if your MSP isn’t committed to the highest standards of quality and customer service. So it’s worth some extra time and effort to find a partner that you can trust and who has a track record of successful projects and satisfied customers.
2. Predictable and Manageable Costs
IT spending has a reputation for being very difficult to predict and control. But sometimes that’s because companies are simply not willing to put in the work needed ahead of time to find out what IT initiatives will be necessary to support their business plans, how much those initiatives will cost, and if the return is worth the investment (ROI).
Part of the good news about leveraging managed services is that you are forced to consider these factors as part of your engagement. And now you have a partner in that process. The outsourcing of IT services forces you to consider the costs and benefits of IT spending at a much more granular level – and although that sounds painful, that’s what it takes to successfully manage an IT budget.
Remember that “predictable and manageable” doesn’t necessarily mean inexpensive. Good service is never cheap (and vice versa). And any MSP that tells you otherwise is hiding something.
It is absolutely true that MSP pricing can help make your monthly IT spend more predictable. And there are many pricing models available to help do that. But, no matter which pricing model(s) your service provider offers, the underlying calculation is always the same: The vendor estimates how much it will cost to provide the required services; adds the profit margin needed to support their business model, and does the math to turn that number into a monthly price using the desired model. If you think about it – how could it be otherwise?
So, what you really need to look for in an MSP, is not one that seems to promise you something for nothing – but one who knows what they are doing and that you can trust to be open and honest with you.
A vendor who you believe can:
- Understand and analyze the IT needs of your business
- Intelligently map their service offerings to your business needs
- Properly estimate what it will take to offer those services with quality and consistency
- Deliver services as promised!
3. Cost-Effective IT
Cost-effective IT spending isn’t about providing services more cheaply – but more efficiently. These types of cost savings are often touted as a typical benefit of using a managed IT service – but how does that work? How can partnering with an MSP provide greater ROI on your IT spending? Let’s take a look.
The biggest expense for in-house IT teams is generally people – as in hiring, training, salaries, benefits, etc… And that’s assuming you can even find the talent you need (or even know which skill sets you need most). Obviously, partnering with an MSP takes all of that off the table. They take the hiring risks. They negotiate the salaries. They make sure you have the right technical skills available. They provide seamless coverage when engineers take a vacation or get sick. And you pay only for what you need or use (depending on contract structure).
Of course, any expense that an MSP incurs is a “cost-of-goods” – and somehow, someway these will need to be covered by how much they charge customers for their services. But because their resources are generally serving multiple customers and projects, they can be more efficient in their use of time – and the cost to each customer is lower than it would be compared to hiring an FTE.
Another area of cost-saving comes from a reduction in the cost and/or the need to purchase certain hardware and software. For instance, managed IT services companies usually provide their own IT management systems and ticketing systems. And they often provide procurement services and have close relationships with multiple hardware/software/cloud vendors, allowing them to offer favorable pricing (and leasing) options.
4. Guaranteed Response Times
Internal support teams are pulled in many directions and it’s often difficult for them to prioritize appropriately. They also usually lack the tools available to professional help desk services – like fully-featured remote management software and sophisticated trouble ticketing systems. Managed service providers, on the other hand, provide help desk services to multiple customers as part of their core offerings – and therefore have the incentive to invest in the tools, training, and people required to offer professional help desk services that can meet specific response time targets (as defined by each customer’s SLA) – even during high traffic periods.
Rapid response times, knowledgeable personnel, and courteous service are vital to the success of any good MSP. And because the primary responsibility of an MSP’s help desk is to be good at what they do – they can focus on that job much more easily than in-house IT staff.
One note of caution. Not all help desks are created equal, so make sure you know what you are getting. Again – if it’s too cheap, it’s probably not good. Find out where your help desk is located (geographically). Is it staffed by employees or outsourced to a third party? And find out how your vendor evaluates its new hires. Are help desk engineers part of a healthy technical ecosystem that rewards competence and supports their career growth? Or is it a “body shop” where help desk engineers are simply a commodity to be used up and burnt out? Maximize your results by being an informed consumer. A good MSP will not hesitate to answer your questions honestly and openly.
5. Improved Productivity
Improved productivity is a corollary benefit to all the other items discussed here. If you are interested in managed IT services, chances are that your technology infrastructure is critical to the success of your business. And anything that improves the availability, scalability, and security of your environment will likely make your people and your business more productive.
IT issues reduce productivity in multiple ways, depending on the level of severity. In the worst case, a disaster strikes (natural or man-made) and no one can work, so your business is essentially down – and hopefully, you have a good disaster recovery plan in place (and the staff to execute it). More commonly, there will be more limited problems that affect some users to some degree, but that still involves a potentially serious loss of productivity.
In any case, the faster any IT issue is discovered, evaluated, and remediated, the less productivity will be lost. And in that regard, the best MSPs have a decided advantage over the average internal IT support staff.
MSPs should have tools in place to monitor your systems and alert the help desk to problems and/or outages. They also have the people in place to respond to typical user requests and incidents quickly and efficiently. And, if something more catastrophic happens, they should have the senior staff available to “swarm” the problem and get it resolved as efficiently as possible.
MSPs also have advantages when it comes to avoiding downtime. Part of the core offerings of most MSPs is monitoring and patching of networks and systems to ensure they are up-to-date and performing as expected. And since MSPs are usually contractually obligated to respond to incidents in a predetermined time frame, they have a business incentive to make sure incidents are rare (and minor). A good MSP takes care of your systems to protect your business – and theirs!
6. Improved Scalability
Scalability has several meanings in this context. One refers to the scalability of your IT infrastructure. Is it architected in a way that allows for easy scaling (horizontal or vertical) as the demand for IT resources increases? Is your ability to scale in alignment with your business projections? A good MSP will want to work with you closely on these questions and will have the broad range of expertise (network/systems/cloud/security/etc) needed to address them in a holistic and creative way.
Another way that an MSP can help you scale more easily is by providing the appropriate level of technical services and human resources needed to support your business operations as they evolve over time. Managed IT service companies, by their nature, are prepared to support changes in your business size and complexity quite easily, allowing you to react more quickly to change – expanding or contracting your level of service – and abstracting you from the pain of onboarding and offboarding full-time personnel.
7. Improved Security / Reduced Risk
All businesses need to manage risk, and one of the key goals of a managed IT service provider is to help identify and minimize the risks that are associated with technology in general, and with your IT infrastructure in particular.
Trustworthy providers will employ experts who know how to assess and prioritize your cybersecurity risks and implement appropriate measures to either eliminate them or reduce them to acceptable levels.
Good managed IT service providers offer comprehensive risk mitigation services, including:
- Systems monitoring and alerting
- Automated patching and vulnerability scanning
- Security Incident and Event Management (Siem) System
- Security Operations Center (SOC) Services
- Disaster recovery and business continuity planning
The advantages an MSP can bring to the table include (a) having the broad range of specialized skill sets and experience required, and (b) having the bandwidth to provide the concentrated focus needed to plan, implement and maintain a robust risk mitigation strategy.
Why Companies Trust Us to Manage their IT Infrastructure
8. Regulatory Compliance
In addition to establishing best practices for cybersecurity, many businesses are required to prove that they meet specific regulatory standards for IT security and data protection.
IT compliance is a priority for businesses that use technology to provide services to their clients. Failing to meet IT compliance requirements can cost your company dearly in penalties — or put you out of business entirely. Although many laws are mandatory, they also include best practices for information security that can benefit any organization.
There are many specific standards for different types of businesses. Some of the more common regulatory standards include HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, and GDPR – and common compliance standards include SOC 2/ Type 2, ISO 27001, NIST and HiTrust.
Bear in mind that an MSP can’t possibly offer a simple, “silver bullet” solution for meeting any of these standards, as they are all quite complex, often industry-specific, and touch on almost every aspect of your business. But a good managed IT services partner should be well-versed in the regulations and compliance standards that are most important to you – and should be able to help guide you through the process and to ensure that your IT systems are in compliance.
Just as importantly, a trusted partner will make sure that, in addition to being compliant, that your IT systems are also truly secure – because those are not necessarily the same thing.
Find a Managed IT Services Provider that is Committed to Your Success
If you want to find out more about the advantages of partnering with a trusted and trustworthy Managed IT Services partner, we invite you to talk with us.
For over 25 years ITSco has been providing advanced IT services to companies of all sizes. Our clients run the gamut from small tech startups to state-wide physician’s practices, to some of the largest corporations in the world. You can always depend on us to be honest, open and competent.
Contact ITSco today to find out how managed IT services can help your business succeed.