It is a tricky area for small businesses; it’s often the backbone that keeps your company functioning – but it’s also a tremendous expense – and one that needs to be looked after by a person or team with a large skill set.
This large skill set and depth of experience is another significant drain on your budget – but one that can be reduced significantly by using a Managed Service Provider (MSP) – an external company whose IT skill and expertise you access on an ‘as required basis.
The question is, would an MSP be right for you? We’ve posted a series of questions that’ll help you decide…
Does IT form a mission-critical part of your business?
Suppose you cannot live without your IT systems. In that case, you’ll probably sleep more soundly, knowing that MSPs usually deliver a ‘service level agreement’ (SLA) alongside their commitment to working with you.
This is essentially a set of guarantees that reflect what they’ll do for you. No two SLAs are the same, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need – after all, it could be the difference between you delivering your service – or otherwise.
Does your business require agile scalability?
The word ‘agility’ is increasingly used in business circles and reflects the fact that you need to be quick on your feet to stand the best chances of winning or maintaining a business in a competitive marketplace.
However, for many in-house IT teams, agility and tech don’t go together – because additions and changes to networks take a lot of time, experience, and effort. This is no issue for a good MSP, as it’s what they do every day. As such, an MSP is likely to be capable of making changes to your systems much more promptly than an in-house team.
How difficult is it to recruit the best people?
Have you ever put a? If you do, it’s likely to be a large number, including decision-makers time, upfront financial cost, ongoing recruitment costs – and much more.
With an MSP, you immediately have access to people with the right skill set – and if they don’t, look for another MSP instead. A well-managed service provider will ensure they can deliver what you need, relying on you very little (if anything at all) from you. If recruiting IT, specialists aren’t your thing – an MSP will save you a lot of headaches.
Do you have wide-reaching best practices in the house?
For in-house IT teams, finding the time to establish best-practice processes usually comes second to getting the job done with tight resources and limited time.
For an MSP, this isn’t an issue – as their job revolves around already established best practices and constantly honing those to ensure the very best service is being delivered to clients. If your current IT setup feels like a constant game of hit-and-miss, then an MSP might be able to inject a new level of experience and professionalism.
Are fixed IT support costs helpful?
Each MSP will have a pricing structure to match a good SLA, and it’s usually very much a ‘you only pay for what you need setup. This is extremely helpful in budgeting and projecting costs for a small business, as financial surprises can cause serious problems.
If you’ve previously found that your IT costs are variable – whether because of moving staffing needs or assistance above and beyond what you can do- fixing your financials in the future with an MSP might be helpful.
Can you afford to keep in-house staff up to date with training?
As anywill tell you, the ongoing costs of keeping an IT team can be eye-watering high compared to other departments in your business.
A large part of the issue relates to training – it’s expensive, and it needs to be constantly kept track of and updated to ensure your IT systems keep you at the forefront of what you’re trying to deliver.
When you employ an MSP service, you’ve got access to a team whose company takes full responsibility for keeping them abreast of the latest accreditations, training, professional requirements, and industry knowledge. Sure, you could do it in the house – but the cost is likely to be large – and that’s before you arrange cover when your team needs to go on a week-long certification course…
Do you ever find yourself missing your IT team?
There are lots of reasons you could find yourself without your IT team, including:
- Maternity/paternity leave
- Compassionate leave
- Disciplinary issues
…and many more. If you cannot function without your IT systems, you’re leaving things with an incredible reckless chance if you operate for any period without the backup you’ll need if things go wrong.
A good MSP won’t leave! Even if their team needs to take leave, or they’re unwell – or even if they go the company entirely-someone else can step into their place and continue to deliver your SLA without any interruptions.
What’s right for you?
If the answer to these questions has been a ‘yes’ – then it’s well worth looking into using an MSP in a little more detail. It would help if you understood that no two MSPs deliver the same level of service – so putting some effort intofor you will pay dividends in the long run.
A little research on any search engine will help you to find the best MSP around. When you’ve figured out exactly what you want from a managed provider, and you found a good one that you are thinking of considering, you should also look to talk to some of the people they already work with –in the same way; you would seek references if you were bringing a new employee onboard. When you’ve found someone who ticks all your requirements and will fit neatly with your way of working, you’re likely to have found the most stress-relieving partnership you could hope for when you’re a decision-maker for a business!