Is managed services right for you?

You’re looking to roll out a big data initiative—or build a more flexible network to support new applications and services, and future expansion. Trouble is, you don’t have the appropriate technical expertise or IT resources in house to pull it off, and hiring and training new staff takes time and money.

Or maybe your IT systems have just become too unwieldy to manage internally. With multiple offices and increasing user demands, your IT staff always seems to be putting out fires and can’t focus on strategic business initiatives. And, with technology evolving so quickly, they don’t have the time and resources to keep critical software and hardware up-to-date.

If any of these scenarios sounds familiar, it may be time for you to consider a managed service provider (MSP).

MSPs offer an essential alternative for IT today.

In CompTIA’s Fourth Annual Trends in Managed Services study published last year, more than two-thirds of the companies surveyed said they use an MSP for ongoing management of one or more IT functions, particularly email hosting, custom relationship management (CRM) applications, storage, backup and recovery, and network monitoring.

Despite their growing popularity, there’s still some confusion about what managed service providers actually do. By definition, an MSP is a company that manages, usually remotely, a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. The MSP assumes ongoing responsibility for monitoring and managing the customer’s IT systems and resolving any technical problems that arise. This approach is an alternative to the traditional on-demand “break/fix” model (which literally means waiting until the server, desktops or other critical networking devices break down and then scrambling to fix them and billing customers only for work that’s done).

While managed services were first intended for Fortune 500 companies and their huge networks, the MSP concept has become increasingly popular with small and medium-sized companies, particularly as a way to supplement a skeletal IT staff and acquire additional technical expertise. Rarely do companies get rid of their IT staffs when they engage an MSP. Especially in larger companies, signing on with a managed service provider frees up the existing IT staff to focus on higher-level strategic projects, like custom app development projects and cloud initiatives.

In the past, cost savings were seen as the primary benefit of MSPs, but that is changing.  In the CompTIA study, respondents were asked to cite their reasons for hiring an MSP. Factors like efficiency and reliability of IT operations, and enhanced security and compliance, proved to be more important than saving money. 60 percent of the survey respondents who consider their technology usage as advanced said they rely on an MSP for physical security services, and 63 percent of the same group said they use an MSP for application monitoring.

MSPs don’t cost more than traditional break-fix services.

In most cases, managed service providers end up costing less, especially when you consider the negative impact of downtime. By discovering and fixing IT issues and keeping them from negatively impacting a business, an MSP can end up saving your organization millions of dollars. Services like proactive network monitoring, patch management and desktop optimization, performed regularly, ensure that your network keeps running smoothly—and your employees and customers have unfettered access to the IT resources they need.

In addition, with most MSPs pricing their services on a flat-rate monthly basis (with different packages priced at different levels), you know in advance what you’re spending as a fixed cost of doing business.

When is a company too small for an MSP?

A recent Computer Economics study actually determined that organizations with fewer than 300 employees stand to benefit the most from IT-managed services and outsourcing their IT support.

Most small businesses eventually reach a point where supporting their IT in-house is no longer a viable option. These companies may be too big for a single IT person, but not large enough to hire a team—and they need a solution somewhere in between. That’s when an MSP can fill the critical gap.

So how do you know if you’re ready to hire an MSP? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know immediately when your data backup fails to run?
  • Do you know which equipment on your network may need replacing in the next six months? Do you know which PCs are running out of memory, affecting user performance?
  • Do you know if your server and desktops have the latest antivirus updates installed and functioning correctly—and if the latest security patches have been installed on your network?
  • Do you know who the heaviest Internet users are in your organization and whether they access inappropriate websites? Do you know whether they’re downloading large files that can slow down your network?
  • Do you feel confident that your network is sufficiently protected from security vulnerabilities?
  • Are you getting the network performance you need for your critical business applications? What about to fuel your business growth?
  • Do you have confidence in your IT staff to give you the right advice on technology issues?

If you answered “no” to any or all of the above, it may be time to take the next step. Contact Next Dimensions and ask about our managed service offerings. Find out how we can help ease your mind.