Many people worry that using Managed Service Providers (MSPs) means cutting existing IT staff loose. After all, MSPs take over much of what IT team believe to be their core job functions–patching, technology purchase and implementation, information security, IT monitoring and management, and so on. Also, it seems logical to conclude that spending more money on an MSP means spending less money on internal IT personnel.
Here's the thing: patching, purchasing, implementing, and security shouldn't core IT functions. Security is a specialization – you need skills and training to do it right. Patching, on boarding, and implementation are time-consuming projects; often a waste of time for highly-trained personnel. You want to be keeping up with the latest ideas on the way that IT should be managed.
Today, outsourcing to a Managed Service Provider is commonplace, and the stigma has worn away, which is good news for the C-suite. Historically, the term outsourcing has been referred to as the "bogeyman of the '90s," synonymous with offshoring and, often, job cuts. This stigma was the cue for your trusted IT team to refresh their resume and distance themselves from your corporate initiatives. In most cases, that feeling of "replacement" is no longer. If anything, now we see IT teams embrace managed services giving them the ability for some added support, and the comfort level to tackle projects within their purview. CompTIA research indicates that “six in 10 customers describe their managed services engagement as a collaborative arrangement with their internal IT department.” Fundamentally, an outsourced IT model is a smart way for SMBs to expand their technical footprint and compete with larger enterprises for a fraction of the cost and responsibility.
Managed Services Providers offer a wide range of services to help small business owners with short and long term technology initiatives. MSPs tackle technology and services from underlying network security, management, and monitoring, to data center, disaster recovery, and backup, to routine patch management and threat vulnerability testing. Managed Services are structured through contracts called Service Level Agreement (SLA) and a consistent monthly fee that, in most cases, is far less expensive than hiring, training, and retaining an internal IT staff.
As SMB owners, you need to be able to focus on your business priorities which are a full-time job. To run your business effectively, you need to understand the skill sets your team has, capitalize on their capability, and augment for shortcomings. The most significant benefits we hear our clients affirm outside the apparent access to more considerable technical skills is the ability to reallocate budgets. Often CapEx dollars will convert to OpEx dollars for outsourced products (i.e., SaaS, NaaS, etc.) and services. IT team assignments will usually follow the transformation with new responsibilities. Contrary to popular belief, working with the right Managed Service Provider will mainly be a cost-savings initiative. In other words, when you spend money to work with a reputable MSP, studies show that you'll generate operational savings of up to 50 percent, and you’ll increase efficiency by up to 60 percent – all without laying off a single worker.
1. Depth of Knowledge:
MSPs often have first access to manufacturer training and have spent the up-front time to learn the implementation procedures. The extensive education is worth the investment for the MSP since they will be involved in projects for multiple customers over the lifespan of the product. The result is that your staff can be freed up from the numerous hours it would have required to complete the project. MSPs, already knowledgeable of the process, will be able to complete the tasks in a fraction of the time.
2. Technology Advancement:
Often, business leaders, we work with worry that the opportunity to reduce costs with new technologies is outweighed by the cost of procurement, training, and implementation. While we don't typically see this hypothesis measure up for the mid-market, in the small business space, this theory holds a bit more weight given the substantial financial impact technology has to the organization size. When your technology is disparate, going end-of-life, or merely hurting more than it's helping, its time to consider a MSP. MSPs understand how multiple systems can interact with one another, and can increase an organization's access to new technologies through your MSP agreements.
3. Prior Experience:
Their exposure allows them to be pre-emptive regarding common pitfalls and manufacturer bugs. Rather than having your company experience degraded performance following a cut-over because of a common issue, MSPs will have a higher probability of mitigating the risk during the planning phase because of prior engagements. This experience will shorten your project plan, free up your internal resources, and save you from potentially costly downtime. Fantastic! Dare we say; a win, win.
4. Advanced Capability and Training (Shadow IT):
Understandably, the techie (if the shoe fits) inside of you still yearns to understand the new technology which is now running your organization. You have the staff to handle your day-to-day operation, and now they need to know how to support the original product(s). The right MSP should include training with all major projects to ensure your staff has the required hands-on experience before project closeout. This knowledge transfer, also known as shadow IT, allows the MSP to pass on relevant information giving your staff the chance to pick the brains of experienced engineers.
5. Policy and Network Control:
The ability for businesses to enable employees, contractors, and 1099s to work remotely surely has its advantages on culture and overhead costs. But many SMBs shy away from these features because the technology delivery, policy controls, and network management are too daunting to manage. Your MSP should work with you to build and deploy your virtual machines and remote instances to ensure your data is protected and your colleagues have the same user experience as an in the office team member.
If you think it’s time to find a Managed Service Provider for your small or mid-market business, grab our guide: The Understated Value of a Managed Service Provider and arm yourself with the tools you need to select the right partner for your business needs today and as you scale into the future.