If you’re in business and have even a slight reliance on IT systems, you may already be aware that there are specialist partners whose service is based around easing your IT stresses and strains.
These partners are called Managed Service Providers – or, MSPs for short.
An MSP is usually a team of IT professionals who are qualified, accredited and equipped to deal with anything from small hardware issues – right up to full international network design, installation, and management tasks. While the price they charge depends entirely on their experience and the solution level of work needed, they’re almost always more cost-effective than employing a dedicated IT team.
That said, the cost isn’t the only benefit an MSP brings to your business. If your IT requirements have grown and you’re not sure which is the right path to take, consider the following 5 points – and how an MSP might help you achieve each…
No more recruitment worries
Recruiting the right IT staff is, arguably, more difficult than recruiting your core team.
Quite simply, you’ve got a host of experience around the service or products that your business provides for your customers – but it’s unlikely you have the same level of experience with IT staff. The result? Well, it’s difficult to know what you’re looking for – and it’s difficult to know who comes with the right level of expertise.
Of course, experience around recruiting IT staff isn’t the only issue here – the recruitment process is exceptionally expensive (in both money and resource terms) – and that can be a problem if cash flow is tight.
When you choose to work with an MSP, you’re leap-frogging all of these issues and fast-tracking straight to an experienced IT team that will be able to fulfill your needs immediately. No recruitment, no training, no non-starters – just an expert team, ready to go.
The right level of service for you
The company/MSP relationship is one that’s based on a Service Level Agreement (SLA) – a formal document that outlines both the services you’ll be provided with – and the price you’ll pay for those services.
There’s rarely an off-the-shelf product that an MSP will deliver, so, you get a service that’s exactly right for you – based on a detailed understanding of your systems, your services, your end-users and where the business is going.
This level of engagement between you and your service provider is obviously beneficial – but the service level agreement offers something more – a guarantee that your IT will be looked after to a certain level. That’s a guarantee that an in-house team might struggle to match – especially given sickness, holidays, leave, resignations – and so forth. IT is unlikely to sleep or take a week off – and while your team might – an MSP will always be able to deliver.
Predictable IT costs
When it comes to running a business, you’re one of a very fortunate few if you can afford an ‘open checkbook’ policy when it comes to money. For most businesses, cash flow can be tight – and when it is, financial predictability is king.
Working with an MSP offers exactly that – and the reasons revolves around that SLA again. When an MSP says they’re going to deliver on a project, they’ll deliver – even if that means they seek additional help outside your working relationship.
Aside from hardware costs, it’s unlikely your SLA is going to have a lot of ‘additional cost’ caveats – but, when an in-house team runs into a problem they can’t handle, additional costs are unavoidable (and often come from an MSP who steps in to help!)
If the idea of IT suddenly requiring additional resources or money isn’t one that sits well with you, the predictable monthly spend that comes hand-in-hand with an MSP might be one that you welcome with open arms.
Expanding without IT concerns
Growth can be extremely tricky when your business has a heavy reliance on IT – but an MSP can shoulder those problems for you.
When it comes to business growth, IT is often a barrier, rather than an exciting prospect. If you’ve ever looked into growing your network, moving your network, adding applications or generally adapting to your new needs, you’ll know why people suggest talking to your IT department before you present timescales to the board.
The thing is, managed correctly, your IT can present a world of possibilities that will bolster any growth efforts. In fact, there are lots of growth possibilities that hinge around IT itself – developments in cloud computing – and with many businesses introducing SD WAN controls to their network – mean networking can unlock everything from remote working possibilities – to the prospect of opening offices anywhere on the planet.
In much the similar way that an SLA can cover an on-going support relationship – additional agreements can be drawn up based on projects – so, if your MSP agrees to help – you know that IT expansion is one less box to tick on the to-do list.
Not enough experience in-house
There are instances when having an in-house IT team actually compromises the amount of experience that an IT professional can amass – but that isn’t a problem for MSPs – since they have a multitude of clients at any one time.
As a client yourself, this non-exclusivity means you’ve got a professional team helping you who are constantly working on honing their best-practice elsewhere – so, when you’ve got a support need or project that needs to be delivered, you’ve also got a team that can deliver – and potentially think outside of the box to make sure it’s done in the very best way.
While having an in-house team can be an attractive prospect in some regards, knowing that you’ve got an MSP who’s working on a huge range of networks for a wide array of different clients means you’ve got a much better team at your side when something goes wrong is likely to be enormously reassuring. In IT, best practice isn’t a stationary concept – it’s a moving feast that needs constantly knowledge and hands-on experience to keep up with.
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