How Managed IT Services Benefit Small Businesses
If you happen to be a company manager, you undoubtedly receive many phone calls each day from determined salesmen who are out to convince you that they have the next great technology trend available-for-sale, and your company just can’t do without it. If you’re like most managers, you don’t pay a lot of attention to such calls, even though some of them might actually have merit.
Those that deal with managed services generally do have something worthwhile to offer, because managed services are something that can benefit almost all small to medium-size businesses, as well as corporate giants. There’s a lot to be said for having some company function outsourced to a third party which is theoretically expert at that function, because it can provide a number of benefits for your company.
Advantages Provided by Outsourcing
As mentioned above, managed services will generally focus on a single function that the third-party vendor can do extraordinarily well, and they can offer service to you at a cost below what you would ordinarily have to pay yourself. For instance, a Help Desk function might call for two or three people to manage all incoming calls at your small business, and you’d have to set them up with all the proper equipment, as well as a dedicated room or office to work in.
A managed services provider would almost certainly be able to provide that same function for you at a much lower cost than you would be paying for the three employees, the equipment, and the dedicated office. Once you get past the startup phase and things start running smoothly, you’ll have the same predictable cost each month for services, instead of wildly fluctuating costs.
How an IT Managed Service Provider Would Work
Remote monitoring and management tools are used by most managed service providers in order to maintain a watchful eye on system performance, as well as the overall health of your IT infrastructure. The mission control center for a managed service provider is normally in operation 24 hours a day, and any problems with servers or other devices, as well as software, can quickly be responded to.
Also, at the mission control center, regular maintenance is routinely being carried out, including system backup and disaster recovery processes, application of security patches, the installation of malware and virus protection software, and automated tasks such as deletion of temporary files.
Another big part of the MSP services to your company will be a help desk function, which responds to both your employees and customers of your company, to resolve any issues which happen to come up. With all the services being made available on a routine basis, the costs to your business of having IT services provided, will almost always be far less than it would be to manage them with in-house personnel.
Alternative Methods of IT Management
If you were to manage your own IT services in-house, it would almost certainly cost you a great deal more than it would to have the function outsourced. Many small businesses which might have perhaps 20 or 30 employees, feel that a single person can manage all their IT services. This one individual would have to be responsible for maintaining all desktops and laptops in the company, for providing server support and infrastructure support, and for accommodating all users of the helpdesk as well as management.
If you do have a single person working to support your entire IT function, this person would undoubtedly be overworked in a short period of time, and prone to making errors or having oversights that could cost your company. You’d also have to think about what would happen if this single person goes on vacation, or is sick for an extended period of time.
Of course, you would have the option of hiring another person or perhaps even two more people to offload and share some of the responsibilities, but now your salary requirements will triple to three times what they originally were with a single individual.
The On-demand Support Model
As an alternative to having knowledgeable and skilled in-house personnel, some smaller businesses have chosen to keep a moderately skilled person on hand for desktop and laptop support, and for running routine IT functions.
When there’s a major issue with some hardware or software breaking down, they have an on-demand support center which they call to receive more technical support. The problem with this model is that the technical support people you call aren’t really very familiar with your system, and are often unable to walk you through specific repairs that will be necessary when you have some kind of breakdown.
Beyond that, many such on-call support people can’t immediately respond to your issue, so you’re left waiting there with a system outage, hoping that a support person will free up and help resolve your issue. The basic problem with this kind of model is that it’s reactive not proactive, and in far too many cases, it simply does not justify the high cost of technical support.
Managed Service Providers are a Clear Winner
For the vast majority of small to mid-sizes businesses, a managed service provider is the absolute best financial choice you can make for managing IT services. This is the only service model which is proactive in nature and is constantly monitoring your network infrastructure for breakdowns, or for security breaches. Better than any kind of in-house arrangement you might have, or any kind of on-demand technical support, a managed service provider will save you money, and give you the best service for your IT function.