28 May What Are Managed Service Providers and How Should You Choose One for Your Business?
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are for technical support and systems administration for businesses who do not have technology management in their core competencies. MSPs typically offer fixed-fee service solutions to manage infrastructure and provide technical support. The service is generally more cost effective than traditional technology departments or consulting services.
For small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs), technology headaches are a leading cause of unpredictable expenses and lost business. If a network fails at a critical moment in a business, there may be no backups and staff might lose hours trying to recreate valuable documents. These sorts of stories are all too common in companies that aren’t big enough to have dedicated technology departments.
For many years, there were only two solutions to this problem: bring in expensive consultants on a case-by-case basis to handle tech needs or hire a “computer guy,” a single individual who had to keep up with all the various technology demands, even when they might be outside his or her areas of expertise.
Consultants were expensive and lacked institutional memory–a different person might come out each time, rediscovering simple solutions over and over at great expense. The computer guy doesn’t come cheap, either, with the increased demand for technology talent.
Today, another excellent option exists for most businesses: hiring a managed service provider (MSP) to take care of their computer needs.
MSPs are an outgrowth of computer consultancies that grew up to fill the niche in the SMB market for professional technical help. By forging a more lasting partnership with your business, the MSP can keep tighter and more proactive tabs on your technology processes than other consultants while still leveraging economies of scale to provide the service at a lower cost than on-site staff.
An MSP will keep many different types of specialist technicians on staff, affording a deeper bench to address technology problems than most separate technology departments. They adopt standardized monitoring and management platforms for their clients, ensuring that they track many technical processes that are off the radar for less sophisticated daily users. MSP’s often offer automated backup and antivirus solutions and ensure that those services are always operating properly in the background.
Selecting the right MSP can be difficult for SMBs without much technical expertise. The best MSPs tend to be mid-sized themselves; large service providers lose the personal touch, while small ones may not have the expertise or number of employees to keep up with demand.
It’s important to find an MSP that offers services for a fixed-fee, usually on a per-computer basis. This fee should cover all regular maintenance, technical support, and monitoring services. This not only makes your technology costs predictable; it aligns the MSP’s incentives with your own. They will operate at a higher profit by ensuring that you have fewer problems to take up their time. This is opposite to the traditional consulting model, which generates more profits for consultants based on the longer it takes to solve your problems.
Finally, look for an MSP that is responsive to your requirements. Do not concede strategic technology decision making to an outside entity–your business must determine what technology processes are appropriate to its need.
An MSP can dramatically cut your technology support costs, but make sure you are choosing the right provider for your business. Learn more about managed services here.