Keeping on top of your business’ IT needs is always a challenge. If you aren’t a systems expert, it’s often helpful to work with a managed IT service provider.
Managed IT services are outsourced providers that offer expert help with all types of business IT systems. Instead of needing to employ an in-house IT team, your service provider can deliver cost-effective solutions that support your business goals.
This article serves as our ultimate guide to managed IT services. We’ll discuss what they are, the benefits of managed IT services, and how to choose the right provider for your business.
What are Managed IT Services?
Managed IT services are IT services provided by a third-party agency for a fixed monthly rate. Professional managed IT services can take care of your day-to-day IT needs and strategy. Your service provider will offer things like proactive system maintenance, user support, asset management and IT strategy advice.
Working with an IT service provider can lighten your workload, improve productivity and profitability, and free up your time to focus on more important things.
Your monthly fee typically won’t cover things like the cost of hardware, significant IT projects and expenses such as cloud hosting. While those costs are additional, a managed IT provider will ensure you’re spending your money in the right places and help grow your business through technology.
What is Included with Managed IT Services?
Managed IT services are tailored to meet the needs of your business.
The support you receive depends on the size and type of business you run, the complexity of its systems and the Managed Service Provider (MSP) you’re working with.
Generally speaking, a managed IT service provides:
- IT helpdesk. On call help for reporting and fixing problems.
- System maintenance. Proactive maintenance support for monitoring systems and fixing issues to reduce downtime.
- Cyber security planning. Professional help with establishing and maintaining cyber security systems.
- Data backup planning. Help with setting up robust backup and disaster recovery systems.
- User management. Manage employees, guests, customers, suppliers and other users of your systems.
- Compliance management. Ensure your systems are always up to date and compliant.
- Proactive support. Let your provider lead the way with proactive support and IT strategy to help grow your business.
The Benefits of Using a Managed IT Service Provider
1. Centralised Systems and Software
Nothing beats the efficiency and simplicity of having your systems and software centrally managed.
A managed IT service can design holistic systems that include data monitoring, management, storage and security all in one package. There’s no shortage of software available to help businesses manage their IT services, but centralising your systems minimises the risk of failures and provides a seamless experience for users.
2. Consistent IT Expenses
Setting up and managing your own IT infrastructure is a major expense. What’s more, the ongoing costs can be unpredictable. Your need for system repairs, upgrades and maintenance will be highly variable, so it can be difficult to budget for in-house IT services.
By contrast, managed IT services charge a monthly retainer fee that stays the same. Even when your business experiences an issue that requires more attention than usual, your management expenses remain unchanged.
3. 24/7 Support
Work isn’t always 9 to 5, and problems with your systems won’t wait until your in-house IT staff are at their desks. With managed IT services, unexpected and out-of-hours problems are taken care of.
Whether your business works at odd hours or you’re pulling an all-nighter to finish a presentation, a managed IT service provider can provide support when you need it. In fact, with consistent checks and monitoring, a managed IT service would likely be able to repair problems before you’ve even noticed the issue.
4. Scalable to Grow With Your Business
Affording in-house IT services is a challenge in its own right, but scaling your IT team is also difficult.
Investing in managed IT services gives you access to IT support that’s easily scalable. As your business grows, you can simply talk to your service provider about increasing your coverage. That means you’ll get professional help without having to invest capital into hiring and training.
5. Improved Cyber Security Strategy
Security giant Norton estimates that there are about 2,200 cyber attacks per day. That means your sensitive data, intellectual property and client information is at risk.
System security is a major component of managed IT services. Your data will be safer than ever with security built into the heart of your IT systems. And this doesn’t just protect you from hackers and malicious attacks, it means you’ll always have secure backups in the event of a disaster.
6. Future-Proofed Systems
Technology is one of the world’s fastest moving industries. Managed IT service providers stay at the forefront of new systems, technologies and developments, ensuring they’re ahead of new changes and threats.
Part of your management retainer fee goes towards continuous learning, training and system upgrades. This allows your business to access emerging technologies without having to do your own research and development.
7. Access to Industry Experts
Managed service providers have access to some of the industry’s most experienced professionals.
Your MSP has the ability to attract expert candidates that you may not have the capacity to employ on your own. By paying for the service, you benefit from high levels of expertise without the financial risk of recruiting in-house teams.
How to Choose the Right Managed IT Provider
The ideal managed IT provider is one that understands your business. Since every company is a little different, you need to work with a provider that can help achieve your goals.
When you’re searching for a managed IT service provider, set up a meeting with their team and take some time to get to know who you’re working with. Most providers will pair you with a dedicated account manager. Your job is to work with the account manager to design a service package that supports your business’ needs.
Focus on sharing your business’ goals with your account manager. Managed IT services are an indispensable tool for growing your business. The right provider will share your vision and play an active role in helping you craft scalable IT systems that save you money, improve efficiency and deliver greater profitability.
Managed Service Providers of Every Size
When choosing a managed service provider, one of the most important things to look at is the size of their team. MSPs may have a handful of staff, or they can have large networks of experts all over the world.
The size of the MSP has a big impact on the service you receive. If you want personalised service, a smaller provider may be the answer. But, if you operate a larger business, you’ll need a provider that has the manpower to keep up with your demands.
Small MSPs are often preferred by businesses with 1 to 15 employees. These providers typically operate with a staff size of 1 to 5, and they may work from home or in a small office space. This means they have low overheads and tend to offer more affordable services.
One of the unique characteristics of small MSPs is their high level of commitment. They maintain smaller client bases, and each client forms a significant part of their portfolio. This results in a highly personalised service where the client’s needs are prioritised.
However, it’s important to note that their service offerings may be limited due to a smaller team size. While the customer-first approach of small MSPs is commendable, their response time can sometimes be slower, especially if they operate as a one or two-person team.
Mid-size MSPs serve as a middle ground in the IT service landscape. These providers cater to small and medium businesses with 10 to 100 employees. They offer a balance between the abundant resources of large MSPs and the personalised touch of smaller ones.
One of the standout features of mid-size MSPs is their agility. They are able to adapt quickly to changes and swiftly resolve issues. Their commitment to personalised service and bespoke solutions sets them apart.
By maintaining fewer customers than large MSPs, they are able to devote more time and resources to understanding each client’s unique needs. This focus on customised solutions can significantly enhance the value they deliver, directly contributing to your business outcomes.
Another aspect of mid-size MSPs is their ability to form close relationships with clients. Smaller, more manageable client bases allows for an in-depth understanding of individual business needs. This leads to tailored solutions that align closely with a company’s objectives.
By providing services that are as unique as your business, mid-size MSPs can become a true extension of your team and contribute to your long-term goals.
Large MSPs serve corporations with a staff of over 100. These heavy hitters boast extensive client lists, comprehensive resources and wide-ranging expertise.
The substantial infrastructure of large MSPs, including extensive office spaces, multiple locations, and state-of-the-art tools, contribute to their higher cost structure.
These MSPs possess a comprehensive knowledge across different sectors, which empowers them to tackle almost any IT problem. However, their size and the volume of clients often leads to a less personalised service.
Large MSPs tend to provide generic solutions to accommodate a wide array of businesses. If you prefer a more customised approach, you may find their offerings limiting.
5 Questions To Ask Managed Service Providers
The right IT services can have a big impact on your business. In a world that’s driven by technology, IT can make or break your business growth and goals. Choosing the right service provider isn’t just about assessing the size of their team.
You need to know that the provider understands your business and has the capabilities to provide tailored solutions. Here are 5 questions you should be asking every MSP you interview:
1. Can you work with me to meet my unique needs?
MSP’s should customise their solutions according to the requirements of your company. The MSP should answer three fundamental questions:
- What are the challenges facing my business?
- How will you address these challenges?
- Why are you the best provider to resolve these challenges?
2. What security measures do you have in place?
Your MSP should insist on remotely monitoring your network 24/7/365 to keep critical security settings, virus definitions and patches up to date. A conscientious MSP knows that the security of their customers’ data is paramount.
3. What kind of redundancy should I expect?
Even the most robust platforms will experience problems from time to time, and a backup solution may be worthwhile. Talk with the provider to see what maintenance services are included in your package. Make sure you also find out what isn’t included to avoid billing issues later.
4. What kind of reporting and communication do you provide?
Your MSP should provide monthly status reports and quarterly business reviews. It should be able to establish a chain of communication, so you can get support immediately.
5. What kind of support do you provide?
Before contracting with an MSP, it is important to know the level of support provided. Here are some questions to ask:
- Are there formal escalation and ticketing procedures?
- Do you answer your phones during the day, and have emergency after hours support?
- Do they monitor the services on your behalf?
When choosing an MSP, doing your homework can really pay off. A reputable service provider will be happy to answer these, and any other questions you may have.
Grow Your Business with Managed IT Services from Surety IT!
Hitting your business goals means investing in IT systems that will support your growth, now and into the future. Taking advantage of the benefits of managed IT services means you will be equipped to take on new challenges and protect your brand from unnecessary risk.
If you are searching for a high quality managed IT service provider then get in touch with Surety IT! Surety IT provides a host of services for businesses across Australia.
Through our managed IT services, you’ll have access to decades of experience and tailored IT strategies that can prepare your business for everything that lies ahead.
Contact us today to book a consultation and to find out more about the benefits of managed IT services!