How can Managed IT Services Assist Your Business?
Before now, businesses made use of the break ‘n’ fix model in managing their IT systems. This model provides IT support only when there is a problem or an upgrade to be made. However, there are numerous problems inherent with the break and fix model. First, it’s reactive. This implies that companies who use this approach to manage their IT components are no strangers to costly and disruptive downtimes. According to Gartner Research Institute, the estimated average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute, equating to more than $300,000 an hour. However, Managed IT services, provides continual and consistent monitoring of your systems with the goal of preventing failures wherever possible. Thus, businesses that adopt this approach can reduce downtimes to a minimum while lowering costs, improving cybersecurity resilience, and enhancing scalability.
Read on to find out how managed IT services can support your business and ensure rapid growth.
What are Managed IT Services?
Managed IT services involves delegating company IT operations to an expert third-party organisation that specializes in handling these responsibilities. These third-party businesses, often referred to as managed service providers (MSPs), are responsible for the entirety or portions of a business’ IT systems, as agreed upon in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA dictates what services will be furnished, the degree they will be offered, and the metrics for measuring the success of these services. Typically, the IT equipment is procured by the company, while the MSPs provide round-the-clock, proactive monitoring, issue resolution, reporting, and unlimited IT support, all at a flat fee over a set period.
Thanks to cloud computing, Managed IT Services have expanded beyond the regions and borders that would constrain the average break/fix IT through the adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service(PaaS). With these capabilities, Managed IT Services can scale at a rate significantly larger and faster than in-house IT operation or break/fix providers.
Common Managed IT Services
Here are some of the most common services offered by MSPs:
Many companies take advantage of the state-of-the-art technology provided by MSPs to secure and backup their data. IT backup services allow you to protect, retain, recover data as small as single files, or as large as entire databases. This layer of redundancy offers additional security and accessibility in case of a disaster.
Help Desk Solutions
Most firms that use Managed IT Services have little or no IT resources of their own. MSPs often offer help desk solutions as a way to give their companies access to an on-call IT expert who can help them troubleshoot their issues either remotely or on-site.
IT Support Services
IT support services is a combination of IT support and guidance. The MSP is responsible for proactively managing and fixing your devices while offering insight into how your system works and how it should work.
Managed Network Security
This service comprises using traditional or next-generation firewall systems to detect and prevent networks, eradicate viruses and spam, filter content, and analyze traffic.
This type of data storage architecture enables companies to store massive amounts of unstructured data such as media files, web content, documents, and backups. As businesses struggle to find ways to store large amounts of data, object storage can offer benefits like cost-effectiveness, scalability, and reliability.
System management involves complete monitoring of your servers, applications, and network. MSPs analyze the data and real-time metrics to proactively identify and solve issues before they cause downtime and impact your business.
Most small and medium companies don’t have the capacity to hire a dedicated Chief Information Officer. Fortunately, MSPs can provide one. A Virtual CIO is a service some MSPs offer that provides analysis, strategy, and a step-by-step plan for the firm’s technology.
Benefits of Managed Services
Low and Predictable Costs
Managed services do not only help companies cut down on IT costs, but it also makes expenses more predictable. Unlike an in-house team, which comes with many unexpected expenses that can quickly drain your budget, managed services costs are neatly packaged into a set amount paid on an annual or monthly basis. With managed services, you don’t have to worry about the maintenance, repair, or replacement of any IT equipment, as most MSPs provide these services as part of the contract. So a fix that might cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket is absorbed by the provider. This approach shields your budget from extreme fluctuation, improving the stability of your business overall. Small businesses benefit massively from managed services because the up-front cost to start is so much lower. When a business starts from scratch, the initial costs of hiring and training a team while paying for the servers and other equipment required can be financially overwhelming.
Scalability and Flexibility
Maintaining an on-premise IT team is a pricey undertaking; that’s why you often see understaffed teams, overworked, and unable to get everything done due to a lack of time and resources. These types of teams can’t function daily and are unsuitable for companies trying to expand. It costs thousands of dollars to train even one additional employee for your IT department, and there is never a guarantee that they’ll even stay with the company. An MSP eliminates the cost of training, and you’ll never have to worry about your IT specialist jumping ship. Scaling networks requires significant coordination, manpower, and new equipment. Thus it’s no surprise that the price tag associated with the process is huge, and it often takes an IT team’s focus off other crucial functions like cyber security. Managed services can help you scale up systems when you need to, without having to hire and train employees you won’t necessarily need later on. MSPs help your business stay flexible when it comes to resources and can accommodate rapid changes; an in-house team might not be able to respond to efficiently.
Server failure, computer malfunction, and electrical disruptions account for a significant chunk of downtime. These issues can be mitigated by implementing redundant equipment that allows systems to switch to a backup when there is a failure. Unintentional human error is another major cause of downtime, and there’s not much you can do to avoid it. Utilizing strong safeguards in critical systems is the best way to reduce the potential risk.
Cyber attacks can also disrupt your networks and data. Small businesses are particularly susceptible to cybercrime. In fact, 43% of attacks are targeted at small businesses. Also, more than half of small businesses that are attacked go out of business within six months, as they are least likely to have protections in place that would minimize downtime.
Mitigating the risk of downtime is a multi-faceted task that an in-house team may not have the bandwidth or experience to handle effectively. Managed services can reduce costs associated with downtime by preventing it from happening in the first place.
A Proactive Approach
Generally, when something breaks, we fix it. However, with servers and data, the cost of repairs can put a big dent in your company’s budget. And in many cases, the cost of a security breach can run into the millions of dollars. Instead of rushing to call in experts after a disaster has occurred, it’s smarter to take a preventive approach by partnering with a managed services provider. A primary function of MSPs is to monitor systems for problems and resolve issues before they transform into full-fledged catastrophes.
Team of Experts
It’s difficult to determine how good the IT team you hired is until they’re faced with a serious network issue. Some may show their worth. Others may not be able to resolve the problem in a time-effective manner or at all, costing your company money you can’t afford to waste. Even when your IT personnel is competent and comfortable with your systems, you may discover that they are not well-equipped to operate or maintain new equipment and systems as you add them. In most cases, even the well-trained employees don’t have the knowledge and experience of an MSP’s large team. A good MSP gives you access to a team of experts with precise skills you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This way, you can save costs on training an employee for a one-time project and hiring inefficient IT teams.
Narrowed Business Focus
Another crucial advantage of using managed services for IT systems is that it frees up your IT team to pursue other areas that are more vital to your business’s success. When most people think of IT professionals, they envision a group of nerds that perform menial repairs and asking whether you’ve turned it off and on again. While this is true in some companies, it’s clearly an ineffective use of IT resources. If your internal team is swamped with helping users fix basic issues or tackling equipment malfunctions, they don’t have the time or focus on working on projects that push your business forward. Redesigning workflows, upgrading equipment, and automating certain tasks are services provided by MSPs that can lift the pressure of daily processes off your team so they can focus on innovation.
Sifting through the hundreds of current data standards and regulations and figuring out which ones apply to your company can be exhausting and time-consuming. This is the reality of many in-house IT teams. They also have to ensure every one of those applicable rules is precisely followed, all while performing their day-to-day work. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are the most common standards businesses have to meet. Hefty fines and reputation damages are some of the consequences of violating these and other standards. With a managed services provider, you don’t have to worry about violating data security regulations as it part of their job to handle the complexities of compliance and auditing. They can also run reports and conduct audits that prove your organisation is meeting all requirements, saving your in-house team thousands of hours in the long run.
The ongoing relationship with an MSP holds several benefits. The MSP serves as a link between you and technology vendors. They also act as a single point of contact for your business and become familiar with your company over time. A trustworthy MSP is a valuable partner in helping your business grow, not just a service you call when something breaks, but as a partner who is invested in keeping your networks and systems healthy and delivering insights, you can use to help your bottom line.
It’s rare to find an in-house team that can provide this level of support. MSPs use remote monitoring technology to keep an eye on your systems day and night. They also get real-time alerts when any problem occurs, which allows them to resolve it before it has a significant impact on your business. Without continuous monitoring, it’s easy for a network issue to happen during off-hours. If a system goes down in the middle of the night, it may cause significant damage before anyone finds out.
Continuous equipment updates can be expensive, plus it can be tough to determine which ones are right for your business. There are only a handful of things more frustrating than investing in new network infrastructure only to find it doesn’t align with your needs — or your team doesn’t know how to operate it correctly. One of the primary benefits of using managed services is unlimited access to up-to-date technology. You’ll never have to worry about your systems being outdated or to make an investment that doesn’t pan out as the cost of system upgrades is rolled right into your MSP fee.
How To Choose The Right Managed Services Provider
Needless to say, you can only reap these benefits if you choose the right provider. Consider these factors when you’re deciding which MSP is right for your business:
Defined Service Level Agreements
Regardless of the size of your business, there should be an SLA that can accommodate it. A good MSP should provide flexible options to ensure compliance and timely response times. A clearly-defined service level agreement benefits all parties as it sets airtight expectations from the start.
Experience in Your Industry:
Partner with a managed services provider that knows your field. Staying abreast of regulatory requirements takes experience, and a track record of previous success is a good indicator that they have what it takes to effectively maintain your network.
Commitment to Growth
It makes no sense to employ managed services if they’re not focused on the future. Look for an innovative approach and a willingness to embrace new challenges and new technology.
Exceptional Customer Service
Make customer service non-negotiable when selecting an MSP. Remember, these are the people you’ll be talking to if something goes wrong, so honesty and friendliness can be a defining feature. The best services provider will have a dedicated team ready to anticipate your needs, going above and beyond every time.
As the use of technology in the workplace grows, the old way of doing things no longer serves company goals, and managing everything in-house simply isn’t feasible for many businesses. Leveraging managed services provides an effective way to support company devices, use cases, systems, and IT infrastructure while also ensuring data security. MSPs work with businesses to manage networks and enhance business functions to further a company’s strategic goals.