For most organizations, IT is ‘plumbing’ – you know you need it, and it needs to work, but you’d rather not have to roll up your sleeves to work out how to flush your caches or fix that data leak! A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a technology consultant who take away the headache of managing IT systems and computer issues, so you can focus on growing your business.
In our experience, be they manufacturers in Waukesha or architects in Milwaukee, CEOs and business owners have plenty of things to think about, and IT issues don’t need to be added to the list.
But what, exactly, can a computer management company do to free up your time?
Here are four ways they can reduce your tech headaches, streamline business processing and help your business thrive.
1. Network security and data protection
Data protection is one of the biggest areas of concern for businesses owners. Businesses work hard for every new client acquisition. Losing customers because of poor data protection or a breach of security is difficult to bear. In some cases, it is impossible to recover from these issues.
A Managed Service Provider does what your IT department would do – implements and monitors your computer systems’ anti-virus protection, distributes patches for software upgrades and configures firewalls to let what’s good in, and keep what’s bad, out.
The manufacturing firm we mentioned earlier may not need elaborate services beyond maintaining the reliability of their email system, and secure processing of orders via online portals. On the flip side, legislation may demand that a Racine accountant needs more robust systems in place to ensure that client personal and private financial data is safe from hackers.
2. Disaster Recovery (DR)
Ransomware, virus issues, and computer hacking get all the headlines, but your computer systems are most likely to fall victim to hardware failure if you’re using aging systems that are no longer supported by the manufacturers. Just like everyone else, data backups are the last thing on business owners’ minds, until they lose data.
Network support and systems management takes the job out of the busy business owner’s hands and makes sure things are updated and properly backing up your data.
Should systems go down, the managed service provider is best prepared for recovery – even for files not backed up yet. Solutions exist that can often recover files in many cases.
3. Cloud management
If your business isn’t using cloud services already, no doubt, the world, and its dog will certainly be telling you it should. Your managed services provider can help you identify the need for cloud solutions, implement those solutions in a coordinated way and monitor them to keep systems running smooth.
You don’t need to move everything to the cloud. However, most businesses should consider data backup and storage at the very least. Cloud storage is a smart, cost-effective solution for businesses with growing data needs.
4. Hardware management
If your business doesn’t have a compelling need to be in the cloud, you may appreciate hardware support. Support services focused on hardware management often foresee an issue before it becomes a business-crippling problem.
An MSP can conduct both on-site and off-site maintenance of PCs, server administration, and monitoring network infrastructure. With proper planning, as systems approach critical performance thresholds, hardware can be replaced, data migrated and networks optimized BEFORE they impact your day to day operations.
Whatever your business is, a managed service provider should look at your business and recommend a solution that fits how you work and what you want to spend.
Types of Managed Service Provider
There are three types of computer-managed services, each type offering a higher level of service and function than the previous. Managed service providers (MSPs) customize these options as needed by clients.
Pure Play MSPs
A Pure Play MSP offers the bare basics of network support. This usually involves remotely monitoring infrastructure performance and advising on existing issues. They rarely take an active role in any other aspects of your business IT. If you need them to look after network security and storage that may move you to the next tier of service.
If you’re testing the waters with computer service providers, start with one that offers a monitoring service but can deliver more once they win your trust.
With a staffing-legacy MSP, the provider has increased levels of responsibility to the client. Services go beyond just monitoring, to fixing systems if problems occur. Software and security upgrades are done automatically at scheduled timeframes, so system downtime is kept to a minimum, and maintenance happens at the least busy business periods.
This is an outsourced IT department ready to run your network. The high-level MSP will design, implement and monitor entire network systems. This type of MSP helps shape your technology landscape, recommending and deploying hardware, storage, security, applications and so on. These management firms work with both large or small businesses.
Deciding on service and a service provider
It’s a critical business decision to outsource and get a managed services provider. Aside from the budget, you’ll want to look at what the return on the investment would be. That simply means, if, for every $100 you spend on your managed services, you save three hours of time, how much does that translate into revenue earnings.
After all, the goal of any outsourced business resource is to allow you to grow your business. Getting a system audit and a proposal for services lets you implement your outsourced management needs over time as you see a bigger return.
Don’t be sold on something you don’t need until you need it. Of course, if you are using a desktop computer that is from 2005, it’s time to retire it to a museum and upgrade to something that doesn’t run on steam and works with a wireless network 🙂
Taking time to understand what resources are available and how they can help, will allow you to plan for growth without having to get your hands dirty with your digital plumbing.
Feel free to reach out to us at Source One Technology. We’ll be happy to review your current infrastructure and services and to suggest a program that helps you get the most out of your investment in technology and keeps you focused on growing your business. We provide managed services to schools, businesses and nonprofits across Southern Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, and Racine counties.