For most companies, IT forms an important backbone that keeps your organization upright. As such, Managed Service Providers (or MSPs for short) are becoming more and more prevalent in the world of small business – helping to make sure that your all-important IT systems can keep up with your requirements.
While popularity speaks volumes – it’s unlikely to be a sheep-like following of the crowd that’s led you into creating your own business, so, rather than make an uneducated jump onto the MSP train, we’ll walk you through 4 things you need to know about managed service providers – so you can decide whether employing the services of one will be a good fit for your organization.
There’s no one-size-fits-all
While it’s possible that your IT requirements might echo those of other companies, it’s risky to just assume that this is the case. Even if your network or service requirement is 99% similar to the next organization, there’s still going to be a gap now and again.
As such, it’s important that, unless you’re absolutely certain your needs are completely met, that you don’t settle for an ‘off-the-shelf’ support package.
The good news is, virtually every MSP will sit down with you before you sign up for their support, discussing exactly what you need. The best MSPs will want to know everything about the service or products that you offer, your team, your equipment and much more. When they understand everything about your business, they’ll be able to tailor a support package to suit – considering your software requirements, what’s mission critical, how much downtime you can afford – and much more.
This package will be outlined in a ‘Service Level Agreement’ or ‘SLA’ – a type of contract that details exactly what will be delivered – as well as the payment they will expect in return. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of scope for sourcing additional services on top of this, but from your point of view, this is going to be a document that makes sure you get exactly what you need from the people you’re trusting with your IT.
They can often work remotely
Many companies like the idea of having an in-house IT team – especially because a lot of businesses have a very definite working culture that they like to protect.
While this is an ideal situation, what’s not ideal is the cost involved with an in-house team – so, the prospect of IT support often needs some compromise – do you want to spend a lot of money on a team that can be hands on with your infrastructure in a matter of seconds? Or do you want a less-costly service that will probably require notice to attend your premises and work on your systems?
The good news is, leaps forward in internet connection speed and remote working software mean that there’s often no compromise now needed when you’re employing the services of an MSP. Instead, you’re now likely to be working with a team that can access your systems from the comfort of their own offices. While remote management is one thing – SD WAN solutions also allow MSPs to actually install and configure new hardware without attending your site either – so the amount of time you’re going to spend with engineers in your premises is enormously reduced – sometimes completely.
If the idea of having an external company coming into your workplace and disrupting your workforce has been something that’s put you off working with an MSP – worry no more.
They’ll be able to cover your systems 24/7
IT systems don’t sleep – but, unfortunately for most businesses, people do – and it’s an issue that has generally only been patched over by employing additional staff members on an ‘on-call’ or shift working basis.
The good news is, most MSPs will be able to offer 24/7 cover for your IT systems – and the cost involved rarely sends your SLA monthly price soaring.
Generally speaking, IT systems will not habitually go wrong through the night – so, monitoring will usually be the extend of what’s required through the small hours. As such, many MSPs will have an IT engineer working to cover a huge number of businesses – with their hands on remote access software should a problem occur. Since any remedial work required is likely to occur very infrequently, an MSP is a far more cost-effective way to provide round-the-clock support – compared to employing additional members of qualified staff.
They will almost always save you money
Employing a managed service provider will cost your business money – but that amount of money is likely to be just a fraction of the cost that you’d associate with finding, training and maintaining an in-house IT team.
In reality, you’re going to need to support your IT infrastructure – so that support is either going to be found in-house – or via and external provider. It’s worth considering the costs and resources that are involved with keeping this kind of team in-house.
First, you’ve got to thinking about recruitment. On average, you can expect the recruitment process to cost somewhere around £5,000/$7,000 for each member of staff you take on. While some of this cost will be a direct financial impact (working with recruiters for instance) – there’s going to be a large chuck of money that’s taken up because you need to allocate resources and decision maker time to the process.
After finding the right people for your in-house IT team, you’re then going to need to make sure they have the right training and accreditations (on an on-going basis) to stay on top of your IT systems. This is also a large annual cost – and one that will often include you needing to find cover while training takes place.
Of course, finding, recruiting and training a team is just part of the picture – as you then need to pay a team on an on-going basis – something that’s likely to cost between £40,000/$65,000 and £120,000/$190,000 depending on the size of your small business. A managed service provider – even one that provides the most robust service level agreement possible – is likely to cost just a tiny fraction of that amount each year.