A managed service provider, or MSP, is a third-party that delivers an essential business function. Usually this refers specifically to IT functions. MSPs work under a subscription model, rather than a per-hour or per-call rate charged by on-demand or break/fix vendors. With on demand service providers, response to issues as they arise can cause unpredictable costs and outages. By contrast, an MSP is a business partner that proactively manages and assumes responsibility for an agreed upon set of services.
You have a gut feeling that something isn’t right about the way you’ve been approaching IT in your business. You’re not sure exactly what to do, but you’re afraid of what might happen if you continue the current path.
Maybe you have one or two internal IT employees. You’re worried about what would happen if your network crashes overnight or while they’re on vacation. Maybe you contract with a freelancer or company to come to your business and install or troubleshoot equipment as needed. They do the work you ask, but you’re not sure if there are better hardware and software options available.
If these are the things keeping you up at night, outsourcing your IT department might be the right solution for you. Managed IT is just one of the four main ways businesses approach IT support, but it is the only comprehensive outsourced IT option that will address your concerns.
With managed IT services, an IT company takes on complete oversight of your network and support of your devices and end users. Managed IT services include both strategic and tactical services. You get the benefits of an IT strategy with a team of professionals handling the monitoring and maintenance of your network along with the day-to-day end user support.
You signed a contract with an IT support company and are relieved to have the weight of technology troubles lifted from your shoulders.
Not so fast.
You may be in for a bumpy ride.
We’ve heard all kinds of stories about why businesses are unhappy with their IT support vendor. Sometimes trouble creeps up over time as the service or the perception of service goes downhill. Other times the relationship is rocky from the start.
We’re not too proud to admit that we’ve had customers leave us in search of greener pastures. We’ve also acquired new customers leaving other providers with which they became unhappy.
Sometimes you need to leave your IT support provider (yes, even if it's us) when you outgrow one another or determine that your priorities and values are no longer aligned (or maybe they never were). Other times you can turn the relationship around with a little communication.
There are four different ways most businesses acquire IT support.
- Hire an internal IT person
- Hire an on-demand IT vendor or freelancer when you need help
- Pre-purchase blocks of IT support hours
- Partner with a Managed Service Provider (MSP)
Each approach to IT support has its pros and cons, and within each approach are various pricing models.
Welcome to the third and final installment of our three-part series demonstrating the types of services you should expect from a quality outsourced IT vendor.
Now, we’re featuring the third element of service provided by an outsourced IT vendor, project management and implementation.
Part III: Project Team
Projects are pre-planned, scheduled activities, like new device installation, software migration, cabling, etc. This role might be filled by the same team that handles your day-to-day support. However, when you’re evaluating an IT partner, it is important for you to understand how they maintain the capacity to respond to daily requests while meeting their pre-scheduled project commitments.
In Part I of this series we outlined the Service Team component of an outsourced IT vendor. The Service Team tends to see the most day-to-day activities from customers since they handle incoming help desk calls and emails. They resolve issues remotely or on-site at the customers’ locations. Plus, they proactively monitor and maintain customer networks to address as many potential issues as possible before end-users ever notice a problem.
As you evaluate the benefits of working with an outsourced IT vendor, you’ll want a good understanding of the process for requesting assistance and their guaranteed response and resolution times. Additionally, you’ll want to understand what proactive steps the team takes to resolve issues before they impact business processes and productivity.
But it doesn’t stop there - the Service Team is just one component of the relationship you’ll have with a quality IT vendor.
You've reached the point where you know your business needs some more sophisticated IT support than your current model can provide. You've evaluated the options, and are considering working with an outsourced IT vendor or managed service provider.
An outsourced IT vendor can handle a lot of different functions for your business, but you're struggling to evaluate the return on the potentially significant investment you're about to make in their services.
Gone are the days of Nick Burns Your Company’s Computer Guy showing up at your desk shouting, “MOVE,” so that he can sit in your chair to solve whatever computer issue is keeping you from your work.
Most businesses launch their operations on a shoestring budget and manage the business on readily available technology.
If your business starts in your home, as many do, you probably already have a basic computer, internet connection, and phone service. All you need to do is register a domain name for your website and email, set up a basic website through a web hosting provider and platform, and select an email hosting provider.
Eventually, you start to grow and bring on your first few employees. With employees comes more computers and the need to share information and applications. Great employees expect to have the tools and resources to do their jobs well, and you need to spend your time growing the business not dealing with day-to-day technology challenges.
You may have a friend or colleague help you with your IT needs, but you’re starting to think you need a bit more support than one person can provide. This is usually around the time when a business starts to think about obtaining some sort of professional IT support.There are a few ways you can go at this point.
Many organizations, especially those experiencing growth, find themselves at a crossroads where they must decide to expand their own internal IT department, or perhaps hire their first full-time IT staff member. Small and medium-sized businesses typically have a ‘technical’ employee or two who perform the daily duties of managing the organization’s equipment with varied results. These ‘involuntary IT managers’ often perform duties that go well beyond the scope of their actual job description. As a result, neither the job they were hired for nor those extra responsibilities are performed adequately due to time, budget, and/or knowledge setbacks of those individuals being pulled in multiple directions.