Developing and managing a business come with a specific set of challenges, especially during the first several years when you are still learning. When you’re trying to make a place for your small business in a crowd of many others like you, you will find that this axiom holds true: “you have to spend money to make money.”
But what happens when you are still just scraping by as a business owner and the services you need to keep operating seem to be designed for bigger businesses with more expendable income? Take the IT portion of your business expenses, for example. Many small businesses struggle to keep on-site IT professionals due to the cost. Fortunately, Managed Service Providers are a great solution for small business IT needs.
What is an MSP and Why Should You Consider One?
To put it simply, Managed Service Providers are companies that can manage customers’ IT and system needs, typically using a fixed-rate pricing model as opposed to the hourly pay associated with standard IT management. Using an MSP offers business owners to outsource their company’s IT system. Managed Service Providers differ from traditional IT management in several ways:
- MSPs monitor and manage your company’s systems proactively, preventing issues from occurring rather than treating errors as they arise.
- Managed Service Providers, on average, cost businesses between 25-45% less than traditional IT specialists.
- Because MSPs typically operate on a fixed-rate pricing schedule, you can expect your monthly IT costs to be constant.
The Benefits of Hiring an MSP
In addition to operating with an approach that differs from traditional IT management, a Managed Service Provider offers significant benefits to business owners and their staff. For example, when you invest in an MSP, you no longer have to update your antivirus and anti-spam software or worry about your company’s sensitive information being vulnerable to hackers. Your MSP handles all of those duties for you. An MSP also presents a wide array of services with their unique approach:
- An MSP can develop a disaster recovery plan for your company, should something significant go wrong.
- Managed Service Providers will constantly keep your company’s IT systems up to date with the latest in technological development.
- MSPs ensure that your network is protected, offering safe wi-fi connections to both staff and customers (including mobile wi-fi).
- Managed Service Providers can help keep your company in compliance with state regulations, HIPAA, and PCI.
- An MSP team is composed of professionals that specialize in different aspects of IT management, so there is always someone with the answers you need.
- Your company’s IT needs will be met with efficient servers, networking equipment, and storage systems.
A Managed Service Provider Grows with Your Company
Having an adaptable team of IT professionals assures that your approaching your company’s system needs proactively, rather than with a break/fix approach. Being that you’re outsourcing to a team that can adapt to your needs, you’re ensuring a good fit for your company and IT team’s working relationship as your business develops.
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to MSP services, so you can rest assured that you will likely be able to find the service that best suits your needs. Even if your company scales down rather than expands, your MSP team will be able to offer services that fit your business needs.
How to Find the Right MSP
Managed Service Providers have progressed over the past few years. In fact, there are now a myriad of different companies a business owner could choose to work with. Having so many options might make it difficult to choose the right company to suit your needs, so it’s important to conduct research before you hire a Managed Service Provider. Compose a checklist of services you require and ask potential MSPs about what they offer concerning your needs.
- Ask potential providers about their hours. You want an MSP who has a team available no matter when a situation arises. MSPs that offer services 24/7 will be able to provide support before and after standard business hours.
- Ask about in-person support as well as support at a distance. Having virtual support is great, but you’ll want a company that can offer in-person assistance should the need arise. A good MSP can offer both modes of service.
- Is the team you’re considering established in the industry? It’s not necessarily a bad idea to work with a newer company, but it is easier to evaluate a company that boasts experience and reviews from past and current clients.
- Take a look at the contract. Before you agree to anything, look over the company’s SLA (service level agreement) for their terms and conditions, so that you’re aware of what you might be agreeing to. It’s also a good idea to have someone with legal experience examine the contract for you, for any red flags you may have missed.
Like all other services in a given industry, it’s important to closely examine the Managed Service Provider you’re considering working with so that choosing a good fit provides your company and staff with a beneficial arrangement.