Before we get to defining and explaining Managed IT Services, consider this analogy:
What would you do if the lights in your office flickered and went out every five minutes? What if the faucet in the break room only worked 50% of the time? In the early days of running your business, maybe you handled these “little” issues yourself. Or maybe you had someone on your team that was handy, and you turned to them for fixes.
Now, those days are likely behind you. So, you know what you’d do – you’d have a qualified electrician or plumber on their way to your business in no time flat! These kinds of “little” issues cause downtime for your employees and, ultimately, less satisfaction for your customers. It’s a no-brainer that your business can’t operate efficiently or profitably without these basic utilities.
Here’s one more quick analogy:
What if your financial reporting was inconsistent or you had an IRS audit? Again, in the early days of your business maybe you did your own books and tax filings. Maybe you hired a bookkeeper with modest experience to help you. But, at some point you probably turned to a licensed and qualified CPA to help structure your financial reporting, enhance your financial controls, and guide you and your business towards “up and to the right” profitability and business value creation.
Outsourced IT Services are much like these scenarios. The electrician is like a Break/Fix technology provider (more on this to come). CPAs are more like a full-service, proactive Managed IT Services Provider (MSP).
What Small Business Owners Need To Know About Managed IT Services
If you’ve graduated from fixing your own plumbing problems and doing your own books, then you recognize the value of the right kind of support from qualified professionals. And maybe now is the time for you to consider the value of Managed IT Services. If so, then this article is for you.
As we help you understand this topic, here’s what we’ll cover:
Managed IT Services allow a business to outsource IT operations to a service provider, known as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) who assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, managing, and problem resolution for the IT systems within a business.
It is basically outsourcing your IT support to a vendor. Simple enough, right? Well, it does get a little more complicated than that.
You are likely familiar with the traditional method of IT support and repair called “Break/Fix”: something breaks, you get someone to fix it. Think of the electrician or plumber in our analogy above. In this model, IT systems are only serviced when something has already gone wrong––a computer has a virus, the server is down, important files are missing. This puts everyone into a frantic state, scrambling to repair a business-critical problem that is losing you money and keeping staff from doing their jobs. And most times, third-party IT support won’t be available until hours or even days later.
This Break/Fix model has some obvious shortcomings and you’ve likely experienced them firsthand – delays in getting things fixed, extra charges for after-hours or urgent repairs, unpredictable IT spend, spotty uptime, and reduced employee productivity.
"Managed IT Services, on the other hand, help prevent, rather than reactto issues long before they happen."
A qualified and experienced MSP sees important details of your IT operations 24/7, not only when they are on-site to fix a problem. Instead of minor issues building up to a business-disrupting problem, proactive support ensures you won’t lose time, money, and sanity to IT problems.
Having an MSP is having a full IT department on-call and watching for issues around-the-clock. This is why so many small businesses are switching to a managed service model to change the way they operate as their business matures, scales, and grows.
2. Who Might Choose To Work With An MSP?
Regardless of size, any business that uses networks, applications, software, or computers can benefit from IT support. All of these systems require ongoing monitoring and optimization to ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly and securely.
Just like the largest corporations, small businesses need network and system maintenance to avoid crashes and glitches that stagnate operations and clog team efficiency. They need monitored cybersecurity to ensure sensitive information stays secure. Small businesses that have remote or hybrid employees also need systems that support a distributed workforce.
MSPs can operate as the sole IT department of your business, or they can complement your in-house staff. If you do have in-house IT staff, they can focus on addressing day-to-day on-site issues while the MSP staff helps with 24/7/365 monitoring, behind-the-scenes proactive support, highly technical problem identification and resolution, new technology deployment, and many other forms of service.
The following are signs that you are a good candidate for an MSP partnership:
Your business is growing
Your goal is running a profitable business with increasing valuation
You are looking for ways to reduce your IT costs
You experience unpredictable IT spend
You don’t have a strategic IT plan or roadmap
You find out by surprise that your applications and equipment are out of date
Your employees are experiencing downtime that inhibits their productivity
You worry that your current cybersecurity measures are insufficient
You don’t have confidence that your data is secure
You are considering setting up a disaster recovery plan for your data
You plan to move your data to the cloud
Your business works with sensitive data
You have remote or hybrid employees
If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, there is a high likelihood your business could benefit from the outsourced IT support offered by an MSP.
3. What's Included in Managed IT Services
The beauty of an MSP partnership is that you can choose the IT service offerings to target your small business’s specific technology needs.
For example, if your business is part of a service-based industry like finance, you want your MSP partner to focus on cybersecurity, data protection, and network security. If, on the other hand, you own a design studio, you want your MSP to monitor communication and sharing systems that support your team’s workflow and productivity and optimize your customer experience.
With an MSP, your small business gets the benefit ofexpertise without the hefty price tag of a full in-house IT team. One way to think about an MSP is that they provide the building blocks that form the foundation of your business’s IT infrastructure. Depending on the type of business, you may need different foundational blocks.
Common service offerings for an MSP include:
Unlimited technology support for issue remediation
Proactive monitoring and maintenance
Managed security; overseeing network risk mitigation and cybersecurity
Managed backups and data storage, including cloud storage
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Managing system installations and upgrades
Network provisioning or virtualization
Purchasing and vendor management
IT Roadmap building
IT consulting and advisory services
Project management and implementation
Connectivity and bandwidth troubleshooting
Systems and network documentation
Managing software applications
Business-class email and cloud management
Onboarding and off boarding employees
A good-fit MSP partner for your small business will listen to your business’s unique needs and align them with the right service offeringsdesigned to support your goals.
If you are currently using an IT services provider and wondering whether you have true Managed IT Services, ask yourself the questions below. If you answer “no” to any of the questions, then you are utilizing a Break/Fix approach to maintain your network, and may benefit from a transition to true Managed IT Services:
Do you find out immediately if your data backup fails to run?
Do you know which equipment on your network is aging and might need replacing in the next 6 months?
Do you know if your server and all your computers have the latest antivirus updates installed and are functioning properly?
Do you know if the latest security patches are installed on your network?
Do you know which PCs are running out of memory, affecting user performance?
Do you hear from your provider before there is a noticeable problem affecting your technology?
Do you have a dedicated Account Manager?
4. The Benefits of Managed IT Services
An MSP that is a right-fit for your business can provide both the depth and breadth of technological expertise to help you scale your growing business and reduce risks associated with data loss and cybersecurity issues. The result for you is worry-free IT. Beyond these obvious benefits, there are three other key benefits worth considering in more depth:
Like any business decision, deciding whether or not to outsource to an MSP comes down to the impact on your bottom line. So, let’s crunch some numbers.
According to 2023 reports, the median salary of an Information Technology Manager is roughly $137,000. That’s one person’s salary—not including benefits, bonuses, and onboarding costs. Now consider that an MSP puts an entire team of skilled IT professionals at your disposal at a fraction of the cost of one in-house hire.
Therefore, one of the most significant benefits of a partnership with an MSP is their exceptional cost-effectiveness. An ideal MSP can help you reduce operational costs, conserve capital budget, and enjoy lower IT operating expenses.
Moreover, the best MSPs will help you establish a predictable IT spend. With a fixed-fee monthly services plan and a well thought out IT Roadmap, you should rarely experience a surprise expense.
Bottom line, you want your employees focused on their core business duties and objectives, not dealing with or waiting for a technology problem to be fixed. An MSP can help make that happen.
Improved Employee & Customer Experiences
Your business’s IT infrastructure is a key factor for your business’s success. If your infrastructure is crashing, glitching, freezing, and lagging, your employees’ workflow will be crashing, glitching, freezing, and lagging. That means your customers’ experience will also be crashing, glitching, freezing, and lagging. The domino effect of poorly managed IT hits your bottom line.
Of course, inefficient systems and bad IT don’t just happen behind the scenes. Your customers can tell if your business is equipped with stable, secure, and efficient systems. Whether it’s by overlooked invoices, lost data, forgotten agreements, or security breaches. Your customer experience relies on a steady IT foundation.
5. The Costs of Managed IT Services
Pricing for Managed IT Services is notoriously difficult to nail down. It can be a daunting task for small business decision-makers to translate a dictionary’s worth of geek speak and navigate complicated pricing models. What surprises many business owners and decision-makers is that Managed IT Services actually cost less on average than Break/Fix repairs.
Using Break/Fix IT support, which usually includes rush fees and higher prices for after-hours/weekend support to handle emergencies, the costs add up. An effective MSP can prevent issues before they happen and handle most services remotely. Therefore, the MSP can offer a better service without charging more.
Managed IT Services are generally priced on a flat-rate monthly basis. Depending on the services included, pricing is usually based on the number of devices managed, number of users, and/or the number of locations. This makes it easy for a business to get the services they need, without paying for more than is necessary.
We hope the tips listed below will help boost your confidence and ensure you’re getting the most for your money when shopping for an MSP.
Trustworthy MSPs will:
Ask the right questions and design a solution just for you.
How can someone improve your business if they don’t know anything about it? There is no one-size-fits-all in the world of technology. Even two businesses with the same number of employees in the same industry may have completely different IT needs. A good MSP or IT consultant knows this. They will ask probing questions to help determine the correct approach for your unique goals.
Do you want to scale production? Improve customer service? Reduce downtime? You may not think technology can affect many of these goals. Yet a credible IT support provider knows that technology has ripple effects throughout an organization, both good and bad. A technology plan must support and enhance whatever your vision may be. Don’t trust the guy who knows exactly what you need without asking a single question.
Offer 24/7/365 monitoring and support (both on-site and remote)
A good managed service provider knows that computer issues don’t take holidays. They should watch your systems and resolve any problems regardless of the time or date.
Some MSPs will only be available during certain times/days, only include remote support, and charge you extra for on-site visits or after-hours work. While remote monitoring and service are great for many problems, there are occasions where an IT provider needs to come on-site for a fix or audit. These situations should always be accounted for in your plan. Ensure that you know what you’re paying for and that it covers all current and potential needs.
Maintaining consistent results and delivery is key. Your potential MSP should be able and willing to share their Customer Satisfaction Scores and client testimonials. If they can’t do this, then you’ll want to question their validity. If their client satisfaction metrics are inconsistent (or non-existent), you may want to rethink hiring them.
Gant Systems Turns IT Problems into IT Solutions for Small Businesses
Small business owners wear a hundred different hats in a given day—usually at the same time! You don’t have time to juggle the demands of computer crashes and network failures in addition to running your business.
The good news is you don’t have to stress about your small business’s technology problems. Let Gant Systems manage your business’s IT while you focus on moving your business forward. Schedule a Discovery Call today to learn how Gant Systems can help enable your small business’s success.
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