By Tony Giudici
Does your business ever experience issues with your Internet service, phone systems, or CRM?
Next question: Do you or someone on your team have the skills and time to fix these issues?
If not, it may be time to consider using a Managed Services Provider for your IT services.
A managed service provider is responsible for the functionality of your IT services and equipment in exchange for a monthly fee. There are many different types of managed IT service offerings, but the idea behind all of them is to transfer the burden of maintaining IT from the customer to a service provider. In order for the relationship to be effective, your business would benefit from the predictability of the pricing and the ability to focus on core business concerns rather than IT management chores.
In my opinion, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the ideal MSP customers. Many smaller companies have limited in-house IT capabilities, so they may benefit the most by the services offered by MSPs. MSPs take a proactive approach, they may be able to prevent problems from occurring and, therefore, from disrupting daily business operations.
What are the most commonly used services?
Many small businesses use a subscription service option, which includes remote monitoring and management of servers, desktops, and mobile devices. Remote monitoring and management are often the basic, foundational service for a managed services provider. Since many managed services providers offer this service, there's heavy competition, so be sure to do your homework and research the best value.
The bundling of these basic needs creates custom offerings, and managed service providers try to differentiate by adding additional services to create a better value. One popular service many small businesses require is help with securing their data from viruses, malware and ransomware. Managed service providers are well worth it for this aspect alone. Ask anyone who has had a virus in their place of business; the loss can be catastrophic.
Over the last few years, small businesses have been increasingly demanding better IT security assistance from their software or service providers. Today, managed service providers are developing new ways AI (Artificial Intelligence) can help manage security services to provide better real-time cyber-security solutions, preventing potential problems.
A real business example
So, what does this mean for the day-to-day operations of your business? Let me give you a real-world example:
Let's say that I'm the owner of a restaurant and have a POS (point-of-sale) system, tablets, printers, an inventory management, and scheduling system that includes two laptop computers and a server. With all of these connected systems and customer data, I would be deeply concerned with the possibility of a system failure.
If I suddenly couldn’t take a customer order or receive payment for an order, the loss of income could be significant.
If my business used a managed service provider, all these devices would be monitored and any possible problems would be identified and corrected prior to failure. And all of it would be happening behind the scenes. My staff and customers would never see or feel the impact.
If I was not using a managed service provider, all of those problems and issues would fall on me and I would have to fix them while also trying to manage staff, customers, and the operations of my restaurant.
These are two very different scenarios and it should be easy to see which one is most beneficial to your business.
Now for decision time
With so many different types of MSPs and offerings, the label can be a confusing one. So when considering managed services, you must think first about your individual requirements. How satisfied are you with the level and quality of your current technology support? Can you afford to be without your current tech functioning; where are the gaps, pain points and current problems if your technology was not functioning properly? How does downtime, outages and other problems impact your business? With all these top of mind, think about and choose a MSP that is within your business must-haves and budget. I find that most providers have many options to provide a flexible, proactive approach that can adapt and grow with you as your needs evolve.
Check back with me in a few weeks, where we will continue to look to the future of Small and Medium Business needs today and tomorrow, and how SMB is changing and re-branding to provide a much craved technologically driven experience.
Tony Giudici is a Director of Market Development for Excelerate America, the ultimate resource for modern entrepreneurs and small business owners. Have a question about Managed Service Providers? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.