Managed IT Services – A great choice for Small Business

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Why should I consider an MSP partner for my business?

A Managed Services Provider (MSP) is a company that provides IT services and solutions to businesses.  They are generally designed to provide technical support for a company and deliver many other IT-related services to business clients. 

Many small businesses have elected to hire an MSP to handle their IT needs instead of trying to hire staff for those responsibilities.  Since technology now plays such a prominent role in most modern small businesses, it is critical to make sure that your IT strategy keeps up with current demands.

What does a Managed IT Services Provider do?

The concept of Managed Services evolved from traditional IT companies.  As soon as businesses began relying on computers to complete their day-to-day operations, there was a need for technical support.  Early on, this support was often provided on an as-needed basis.  A computer would break, and an IT technician would fix it.

IT companies began not only selling computer hardware and software, but also technical support for those systems.  This was usually provided on an hourly rate or sold as time blocks of technical support hours.  Over time this system became inefficient while leaving systems outdated and insecure.  Many businesses demanded a better solution.

What is the difference between Outsourced IT and Managed IT?

The term “managed” is what sets an MSP apart from traditional IT outsourcing companies.  Managed IT Services take a preventative approach to providing IT support.  Ongoing monitoring and management of IT systems is required to have a successful IT strategy.  Without the constant examination and updating of systems and software, a business network will quickly become insecure and outdated.

Outsourcing work that requires a special skillset is often a good choice for small businesses.

Outsourced IT can mean many things, but generally refers to a business hiring an outside company to fix IT problems or help with projects and other IT support needs.  Outsourcing IT work is still common, but more often it refers to circumstances where outside expertise is needed to take on specific work that in-house IT lacks the expertise or time to handle themselves.

Managed IT Services provide a complete solution to complex IT needs.

Computer systems are more complex than ever with complicated networks of IT systems working together.  They provide the resources needed to successfully run a business today.  Expertise in many areas of IT is needed to keep systems performing at a high level and empower a productive workforce.  This is one area where an MSP offers an advantage over in-house IT.  It is particularly true in small businesses that cannot afford to employ a diverse IT staff.

Because of this, most service offerings of a Managed Service Provider are designed to be an attractive alternative to a business staffing an IT department.  Plans usually include many components needed to maintain a secure and efficient computer network.  Security systems like firewalls, anti-virus software, backup and disaster recovery systems, among others are often included in a Managed Services plan.

What is included in a typical Managed IT Services plan?

Although Managed Service Providers have been around for many years, some people are still confused by what they offer.  Some MSPs that evolved from traditional IT companies have even struggled to adapt the concept.  They fall back into old habits of waiting for things to break rather than taking steps to prevent IT issues.

A comprehensive Managed IT Services plan will include several components including:

  • A suite of security and support tools
    • Remote Monitoring and Management Software
    • Anti-virus / Anti-Spyware
    • Email Filtering
    • Next-Generation Firewall (Security Appliance)
    • Endpoint Threat Detection and Response
    • Employee Security Awareness Training
  • User and network system support services
    • Server Support
    • Network Infrastructure Support
    • Computer and User Support (Help Desk)
    • Line-of-business software support assistance
  • Business Continuity tools and services
    • Back-up Management and Disaster Recovery Services
    • Remote user connection to the network
    • Network Documentation
    • Strategic IT Planning and Budgeting
    • Cloud-to-cloud back-up and recovery

Traditional IT companies offered many or all of these services but usually sold them individually.  An MSP bundles them all into a comprehensive plan under a flat-rate monthly fee.

What should I expect to pay for a Managed IT Services plan?

Several pieces are considered when pricing a Managed IT Services plan such as:

  • How many computers will be supported?
  • How many physical and virtual servers will be supported?
  • How many users are there that may require technical support?
  • How many locations will need support?
  • What specific security technology will be provided?
  • What equipment and licenses will be provided by the MSP under the plan?
    • Firewalls
    • Back-up appliances
    • WiFi Access Points
    • Surveillance Cameras
    • Others

Keep in mind that the MSP designs their plans to be attractive versus the cost of hiring staff and purchasing all the needed equipment and services needed.

Are Managed IT Services plans a good value?

A managed IT services plan should provide excellent value for your business.  If it is not an attractive alternative to employing IT staff and purchasing the other needed pieces, the MSP will not be successful.

Consider the cost of employing an IT Administrator in your business.  Depending on where your business is located, it is reasonable to expect to pay this person somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 per year.  This will be even more in metropolitan areas.

Once you add the cost to provide benefits for that staff, the realized expense of employing IT staff will be 20% to 30% higher than their base wage.  Add the cost of the equipment and software/service licenses you will need to determine the true cost of IT management and support.

Most Managed IT Services plans will cost about $100 to $200 per employee supported.  For instance, if your business has 50 staff members that rely on computers to do their job, a Managed Services agreement for your business will likely be in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 per month.

Compare that amount to the cost of staffing your own IT department, with the additional cost of benefits for that staff.  Also, add the cost of whatever equipment and services you will need to pay for each year.  This will give you a good comparison of the costs between both options.

Determine the true cost of having dedicated IT staff in your business.

If the costs are nearly the same between hiring an MSP or hiring our own IT staff, why would a business choose an MSP?

There are several advantages that an MSP offers a business over hiring an IT staff.

  1. No gaps in coverage during vacation / PTO days – An MSP provides services from a team of IT specialists.  This allows for time off for their staff while continuing to provide support for their clients.
  2. Collective knowledge and experience – An MSP will have a team of IT experts that bring a wide variety of IT experience and knowledge to the team.  This level of team expertise is nearly impossible to find in a single individual.
  3. Risk reduction – An MSP operates under a contract with specific terms and conditions.  The contract will have a term and should include guidelines for pricing during the term of the contract.  An MSP won’t be recruited away from your business for a pay increase or an attractive relocation like an individual IT person may be.
  4. A broad range of skilled services – An MSP provides skilled individuals to handle account management, strategic technology planning, billing, and other areas where an IT person may struggle.
  5. Standardization – An MSP has developed a comprehensive stack of proven IT security and support solutions.  Because they deploy the same set of solutions for many of their clients, they will be well-versed in supporting those solutions in your business.
  6. The incentive to perform at a high level – Referrals from current clients are an important factor in the growth of an MSP. If they want to grow their business, they must provide excellent value for their clients so they want to provide referrals.

Have additional questions about Managed IT Services?

RSPN works with a variety of clients in many different industries.  We provide our clients with a broad range of IT expertise and experience.  Our owners also are active with our clients and offer deep knowledge of how technology drives a successful business.

Contact us today at success@rspn.com to learn more about our services and determine how we could help your business thrive.

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