Managed services providers offer small businesses a way to run their IT function to the standard they need, on a budget, without the investment required for an in-house IT department.
As a small business owner, you probably have your fingers in several pies. Whereas larger organisations have dedicated departments for functions like marketing, HR, finance and IT, chances are you’re trying to keep costs to a minimum by juggling those tasks amongst a small team, if not all by yourself.
This makes perfect sense in the early days, when resources are tight. Perhaps you can call on a friend to build a simple website, or have your General Manager take on payroll and a bit of marketing alongside their ‘day job’. But what happens when your business really starts to take off?
Many small business owners find that their initial IT management solution (if indeed they have one at all) just can’t keep up. In this case, they face two options: invest heavily in an internal IT department, or look for outside help. And here’s where Managed Services Providers (or MSPs) come in.
There are four ways they can really add value to your day-to-day operations, as well as helping your business to grow longer term:
Most of us have an awareness of the latest innovations in business technology – but we can’t all be experts in everything. With a managed service provider, you and your colleagues get immediate access to a team of IT specialists whenever you need it - usually 24/7, 365 days a year.
MSP’s are staffed by qualified IT professionals; people who can deliver best-in-class solution design and implementation and help you get the most from the technology that is right for your business. Offload one, some or all of your IT management functions and you’ll free up time and resources to focus on your core business – the stuff that you are the expert in.
With data security and integrity a high priority for businesses and their customers alike, how confident are you that your network is safe?
A managed service provider will already have the systems and technology in place to mitigate risks from hacking, malware and data loss, helping you to protect your information and keep it secure. Established disaster recovery procedures are there to restore operational processes quickly in the event of a crisis or major incident; whilst on a day-to-day basis, remote network monitoring and automatic incident reporting identify significant problems as soon as they occur, in some cases preventing a full-blown system failure before you’ve even realised there’s an issue.
As your business grows and evolves, you need your IT resources to stay in step. With a managed service provider it’s easy to flex the level and type of technology and support you receive as your requirements change. Infrastructure can be adjusted, services added or removed and cloud-based solutions deployed quickly and simply.
And new systems don’t always need to be designed from scratch – your MSP may already have something ‘off the shelf’ that can be tweaked for your particular needs. If you do require something completely bespoke, they’ll have systems architects on hand to start work on a custom-designed solution straight away.
Any external provider will come at a cost, but working with a managed services provider is usually affordable and effective. MSP clients tend to get great value for money thanks to the economies of scale in place, and are often protected from unforeseen expenses thanks to closer management of their network.
An MSP will help you balance a limited budget with the right IT tools for your business. With a tailored service package and guaranteed SLA you get exactly what you pay for, meaning that costs are planned and predictable – no more expensive, ad-hoc consultancy fees! Over time you’ll get access to historical data that can help you identify when extra resource might be needed, as well as make informed decisions about longer term requirements.
Whilst they keep everything running smoothly in the background, you can concentrate on the productivity of your own team. With reduced downtime, robust back-up systems, day-to-day support from the experts and advice on making the best use of the technology available, your business also becomes more resilient – and better equipped for the future.