The managed services provider (MSP) sector is expected to reach $256.5 billion by 2021, up from $166.7 billion in 2017 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5%. Demand for MSPs is expected to grow at an almost exponential rate, particularly among SMBs. The reason for this is that managed services providers offer an array of different services, all designed to improve the development and function of business applications, data storage, and cybersecurity, among others. Through all this change, you need to make sure that your MSP is giving you what you pay for.
In an ever more technological and digitally dependent business environment, companies must choose the IT Service Provider that will best work for them. This means that it should be able to maintain smooth operations, innovate new functions, and provide the right services needed for your organization to get its job done effectively and without interruption.
What is an IT Services Provider and How Do You Benefit?
Before you can make sure that your IT Service Provider is providing you with everything you need, you must first know what IT Service Providers are and what benefits they offer. For starters, managed IT services exist to enhance or replace an internal IT department, which will help you free up resources by using a third-party contractor.
In many cases, these services will be provided via the cloud, which will give you much-needed flexibility. This flexibility means it can either be operated independently or in conjunction with on-premises computing services.
For an entrepreneur, it's often difficult to admit that there's a skills gap within your organization. But the truth is you may need to bring someone with expertise to help take your company to the next level. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why you should.
Filling Organizational Gaps
Since every company is composed of different people with different talents, the gaps an IT Services Provider will be able to fill will depend on each organization. It's always a good idea to assess your current employees and take note of any gaps in your talent pool.
Like your own company, IT Service Providers will also tend to focus on just a few areas of expertise. A reputable IT Service Provider will always work to understand what gaps in your organization will need to be filled, and they will recommend a solution or refer you to someone who can. You may, for instance, have a competent and experienced IT staff that's perfectly able to manage your day-to-day tasks.
But as your organization grows, you may not be able to hire for specialized areas quickly enough. Whether you need to get a new CRM off the ground or do a full security overhaul before launching a new service, an IT Service Provider will definitely come in handy.
Whenever You're Overwhelmed
If your organization is growing in its sales, marketing, and support staff, the IT department is often overlooked and overwhelmed. When the IT staff is doing its job, and everything is running smoothly, it's easy for management to overlook the exact impact that company growth can have on IT. When scaling your company, partnering with an IT Service Provider will be of great benefit.
This is most true when your organization offers seasonal products or services that put additional strain on the IT department at certain times of the year. By augmenting your staff with an IT Service Provider , you can give them a breather and allow them to keep everything running as it should without any unexpected issues coming up during times of growth or high demand. Your IT Service Provider partner may be able to help you better prepare for these times.
Staying On Top of Technology
Another major benefit of partnering with an IT Service Provider is always being on top of the latest trends in technology. Even the best and brightest IT professionals can't keep up with every new piece of tech or advancement. Together with an IT Service Provider , you will have someone who can react to most changing trends and technologies on the market.
While the entries here are not exhaustive, they do show the versatility that IT Service Providers can bring to an organization. That said, if you're currently working with a managed services provider, it's important to evaluate their services and make sure that they're providing you with everything you're paying for.
Below are several questions to ask yourself and make sure that this is the case.
Is My IT Service Provider Looking After My Best Interest?
For you to get the most out of your relationship with your IT Service Provider they must take several preventive steps to provide a comprehensive IT service. One way of knowing if this is the case is their pricing model. If your IT Service Provider is operating on a break-and-fix pricing model, they're not likely to be doing everything in their power to prevent issues from occurring.
A mutually agreed monthly fee, on the other hand, will be far more effective in incentivizing your IT Service Provider to fix issues once and for all. After all, if they fix the problem right the first time, it will be less likely that you'll be calling them repeatedly, making both of your businesses more productive overall.
Overages are also a sign of a somewhat similar symptom. If they're charging you extra on a regular basis, they may not be doing the most to ensure that issues will not arise again in the future. Some of these companies may only be doing quick fixes so that you call on them regularly. A truly professional IT Service Provider will try to get to the root of the problem, fixing it once and for all. Not only will this work better for all parties involved, but it will also strengthen their long-term relationship.
Does My IT Service Provider Delivering All the Services I Need?
As we said previously, every managed services provider will have to specialize in several industries and areas of expertise. This will help them be more focused and provide better quality services as a result. Nevertheless, there are a few key elements that you should expect.
- Centralized Services and Platform Management - This will include all the most up-to-date tools available to run your desktop effectively. Whether it's antivirus, anti-spyware/malware, or anything else that you may require, your IT Service Provider should have you covered.No matter what platform you choose to use as your solution, your provider will have to be able to optimize it for maximum capability and seamless operability.
- Network Administration - You IT Service Provider will need to provide you with all the necessary server updates, documentation, as well as all proactive and reactive measures needed to keep your network and servers running without a hitch. They need to be able to take care of all administrative issues if need be so that you can focus your efforts on running your business.
- Cloud Services and Infrastructure Management - A managed service provider should also be able to support you with a comprehensive cloud service strategy, allowing you to migrate your services, applications, and data when needed. Also, an IT Service Provider should make it easy for you to scale your organization, ensuring that your infrastructure will be the right size and be able to support your needs.
- Managed Disaster Recovery - In the event of a disaster, be it natural or otherwise, you will want to make sure that your applications and data will be safe and secure. You'll also want to make sure that everything will be functional. Your IT Service Provider will provide you with services and backups that will minimize any downtime and ensure full operational continuity without the risk of lost revenue or customers.
- Help Desk and Functional Support - At their core, IT Service Provider provide companies with foundations services that ensure work needs will be addressed at a moment's notice. Effective help desk assistance and service level agreement (SLA) compliance are incremental for all managed service providers. With an IT Service Provider providing such functional support, your overall costs will be reduced, and the quality of that support will improve.
- Technical Consultancy - They will also be able to put a strategy in place to help you move forward and be in sync with your technology, allowing you to get the most out of your investment. Your IT Service Provider should always look to make your company more efficient and innovative.
Do We Have an SLA in Place?
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between you and your service provider, detailing all the expectations and obligations of your relationship. To get the most out of your collaboration, you will need to have an SLA in place. Since this document will act as a blueprint for your service provider, it will also protect your organization's assets and reputation.
The SLA will ensure that you are on the same page in terms of standards and services. Likewise, if the service provider fails to meet its obligations, there can be serious repercussions for your organization. The SLA should include the consequences if the performance standards and obligations are not met. Any monetary penalties should assist your organization if any losses were incurred.
Also, as your business evolves, you will have to make sure that your IT Service Provider will be able to evolve and scale alongside you. If you are not happy with the services they are providing, you need to make sure that you are not locked into a long-term contract. Make sure that your IT Service Provider offers month-to-month contracts with guaranteed SLAs.
Do They Respond Quickly and Effectively?
There are many IT Service Providers out there that simply don't have the manpower to respond quickly to every request. In some cases, they don't even have enough people on the job as needed to resolve the issues effectively. Another way to determine whether you're dealing with a qualified provider is to see whether your provider has a team of skilled professionals. Be sure they rely on any one individual to get the job done every single time.
A larger workforce means that they have a more diverse skill set that can handle a larger pool of potential issues. Likewise, it means that they can serve you around the clock.
Does My IT Service Provider Deliver Quality Expertise?
Even though all IT Service Providers will claim to be experts, some will provide you with more expertise than others. One way of determining this is to see how many of your provider's team members are at your disposal, meaning whether you have full team support or just one member trying to solve all of your problems. With full team support, you'll also have access to redundancy. This means that if your dedicated expert is out sick, there is somebody else to step in.
Other factors may influence the quality of their services as well. For starters, you should ask how current is your IT Service Provider staff's IT skills. Do they have updated cloud and security tech knowledge? Their location is important as well. Whether they are local, national, or overseas can affect your security and compliance. If they are not local, it will be increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to make onsite visits if needed.
Does My IT Service Provider Keep Me Secure and In Compliance?
IT security should be at the top of every business owner’s list of priorities. Regardless of whether you're working with an IT Service Provider to outsource help desk or more advanced cloud or security work, you must understand their security practices and policies. If they're overseas, are they still in compliance with all of your local regulations?
Being in compliance means that you have taken the necessary measures to ensure that you comply with all regulations that regard your industry, location, and other similar factors. Without the right measures in place, hacks and data breaches will result in financial or data loss, both having serious consequences for your company and its reputation. Your IT Service Provider should be able to help you with this.
Look for an IT Service Provider who specializes in IT security and compliance, putting it at the top of their list of priorities. Partnering with the right managed services provider will bring you plenty of benefits such as lowering costs, enhancing your internal team's abilities, and driving more business value, among others.
But to make the most of it, you will need to ensure that your IT Service Provider is giving you what you're paying for. Do your due diligence and choose the best managed services provider that suits your needs and minimizes your risks.
July 28, 2019
Using Microsoft Teams for Voice
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The first thing that comes to mind when we talk […]LEARN MORE