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Is a Managed Service Provider a Good Fit for Your Business?

Featured Best Practice on Information Technology

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This presentation is a collection of PowerPoint diagrams and templates used to convey 30 different IT-related frameworks, models, standards and methodologies. (Please note that these are diagrams and charts that are to be used in your own business or classroom presentations. These are not [read more]

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An increasing number of businesses are looking to outsource their IT support needs to managed service providers – dedicated IT support services who specialise in providing tech support for businesses who can’t – or don’t want to – manage their IT in-house.

Like most business decisions, there’s no right or wrong answer in terms of whether a managed service provider is going to be ideal for your business – but there are a few questions that could lead you toward the right answer for you.

Here, we’ve listed a handful of IT considerations businesses have, and provided a few details about how a managed service provider could help you tackle the issue at hand – and how they might compare to the in-house IT team alternative…

Can you find the right staff?

Finding the right core staff for your business is often difficult – and that’s with the experience you already have in your chosen sector.

Recruitment becomes a double-problem when you’re looking to take on specialists that lie outside your realm of experience – and, for most people, IT is firmly out of their comfort zone. What should you be looking for from network engineers? Does an IT manager need the same skills as other managers? What kind of experience should your candidates be displaying? How much should you be paying for an in-house team?

The questions are endless – and you stand to make mistakes before you get it right. If you want a short-cut to a team that will deliver exactly what you’re looking for, a managed service provider is a great alternative to rolling up your sleeves and trying to recruit a team. A managed provider has an experienced team already in place – and they’ve been put there by someone who knows exactly what’s needed to deliver an outstanding service for your business.

How do you know you’re getting the right service for you?

Of course, taking on a contractor or third party company to deliver a service for you always represents something of a risk – but with an IT network provider, that’s enormously reduced – and it’s all down to the way they agree their services.

Your business requirements are unlike any other company’s – so there’s no off-the-shelf package or price that’s going to immediately meet your needs. Instead, working with a managed service provider will involve sitting down and talking about exactly what you do – and what you need to support those processes and systems.

When you have a mutual understanding – your service provider will commit to the support they can provide by putting together an ‘SLA’ – or ‘Service Level Agreement’. This document will, essentially, be a contract that outlines what they’ll do for you – and what you’ll pay in return.

If you’ve got systems that just can’t fail – or sites that must be connected at all times; this is the place you’ll outline exactly what you expect. These are just examples – and a good managed service provider will help you work out what you needs are – but when they’re committed to an agreement – that’s exactly what you’ll get, meaning you can rest easy knowing your IT systems are fully looked after.

Can you predict your IT costs?

The service level agreement we’ve just covered doesn’t just cover what you’ll get from the managed service provider – it outlines they cost they’ll expect from you – and this is both important and reassuring for businesses.

When you’ve got an in-house team, there’s every chance you’re going to come up against problems that require some outside support. Inevitably, outside support comes with a price tag – so your in-house team are somewhat limited by their current level of experience – and your budget is far from protected.

With a managed service provider, you’ve got a team who have made a commitment to keep your systems running in the way you need them to. If that means they need to commit extra resources or seek outside help, that’s their issue to deal with – and won’t impact your monthly payment.

As you’re already undoubtedly aware, a predictable cashflow is vital when you’re running a small to medium sized business – so this kind of predictable cost is a big feather in the cap of the managed service providers.

Do you handle IT issues proactively – or reactively?

The increasing popularity of managed service providers owes a lot to huge steps forward in cloud-computing and an increased business interest in software-defined wide area networks (SD WAN).

Both of these technological developments allow managed service providers to configure, monitor, maintain and manage your network remotely; often predicting issues and making changes before they’re needed.

This represents a significant benefit for managed service providers when compared to in-house teams. Quite simply, an in-house team is unlikely to be able watch your IT network around the clock – at least, without significant staffing spend on your behalf. A managed service provider, however, is going to be able to keep virtual hands on your network around the clock – and that can prevent issues before they happen.

If you’d prefer your Monday morning to involve an email from your service provider telling you about an issue they’ve helped you avoid – instead of an email from IT saying your systems are down, the finding a managed network provider who’s got the means to stay one step ahead of problems could be an enormous investment in your company.

What’s right for you?

As we stated at the very beginning – there’s no right or wrong answer as to whether a managed service provider is going to be right for your company. Some companies prefer to keep IT in-house – and that’s fine – although it is almost always the more costly option.

If you’re not sure about whether a managed provider could meet your needs – or you’d simply like to get an idea of price to hold up next to recruitment projections, then seeking some recommendations is a good next step. Look for a provider who deals with companies of your size – and, possibly, companies in your sector. Most service providers will be delighted to meet with you entirely free of charge – and discuss whether or not your companies would be a be a good working fit moving forward…

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The key drivers of Information Technology (IT) or Management Information Systems (MIS) value are an organization's IT mindset and its ability to execute. Today’s best practices show that IT value can be maximized when enterprise IT investments are aligned with business goals and IT execution is [read more]

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About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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