In today’s world, information technology (IT) is a critical component for all businesses, large and small. Most large companies have the revenue and budget to support the hiring of full-time IT staff members to take care of the day-to-day IT support and normal maintenance. Unfortunately, most smaller businesses don’t have this luxury. This leaves the day-to-day support of IT issues up in the air.
A lot of companies will lean on the staff member who is the most technical. Unfortunately, this person typically has a full-time position within the company doing something other than IT. When IT issues arise, they must stop doing their “other” job and take care of the IT issue – OR – ignore the IT issue.
Other companies will contract IT services with a brother-in-law, a friend-of-a-friend, etc. While this contractor has good intentions, they typically also have a full-time job and will have to do work in the evenings, on weekends or during their lunch break from their full-time job. This means that your end-user’s productivity suffers while waiting for a convenient time for the IT contractor to show up.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) provide a more proactive approach to managing the IT needs of a business versus a constantly reactive approach of fixing problems as they arise.
What is an MSP?
An MSP is a company that provides IT services to your company remotely via telephone and remote IT tools/utilities. Ideally, they will partner with your company and will work with your management team to understand your short and long-term business objectives so that they can help you make strategic IT decisions for your business that align with these objectives.
An MSP will typically deploy agents and utilities within your infrastructure that will allow them to remotely access your end-user desktops, servers, network equipment etc. These utilities also provide a monitoring capability so that your MSP can be alerted of any issues as they occur. This can dramatically increase their ability to fix the problem – sometimes even prior to your end-users noticing the issue.
An MSP can also provide your company with end-user IT support/helpdesk services. Giving your end-users the ability to contact the MSP helpdesk directly can improve your employees’ productivity by resolving IT issues more quickly and efficiently.
MSP’s have evolved beyond providing simple IT desktop support. Many MSPs provide other services such as security (anti-virus, spam, phishing protection services etc.), cloud computing, mobile device management, Office 365 Email, VOIP phone services and many more.
What is a FULL-SERVICE Managed Service Provider?
A full-service IT MSP is a company that provides the traditional remote MSP services in addition to providing all on-site IT services to maintain your IT infrastructure within the same monthly pricing structure. This is a new and unique service. While some traditional MSPs provide on-site services, they typically charge an hourly fee for these services which might also include other charges (trip charges, mileage etc.). When selecting an MSP, it is very important to understand how they are going to provide any on-site services and how they are going to charge for these services. In many cases the language for this is in the fine print of their agreement.
It is my belief that choosing a FULL-SERVICE MSP is typically in the best interest of most small/mid-sized businesses. This will create a more consistent, budget-friendly financial arrangement eliminating the “surprise” or unexpected invoices.
Would my company benefit from using an MSP?
If your company depends on technology to run its business, then having an MSP would provide a tremendous benefit. MSPs typically customize their services depending on the size of the company and scope if IT infrastructure that is being used. The advantage is a level of consistency for end-user and enterprise support for IT services. If done properly, your MSP becomes an extension of your staff and in many cases, they are thought of as an internal IT department. This frees up your employees from dealing with the frustrations of IT and allows them to focus on running the company’s day-to-day operations.
Using an MSP also allows your business to benefit from having all the necessary IT skills when they are needed. In other words, when you need a senior level network engineer to work on your network or firewall, an MSP would have that person on staff and would be able to provide the right skill for the service needed. When using a contractor or a single on-staff IT person you are limited to the skill sets that they have. Hiring a person with these skills doesn’t make financial sense as you might only need these higher-level skills once or twice a year.
It is important when choosing an MSP to understand all of the costs and how the MSP will bill/invoice you for their services. There are several different methods that are being used.
Brad Thomas is the President and COO for NvYA Technology in Oklahoma City, OK. NvYA Technology is a FULL-SERVICE IT Managed Service Provider. NvYA Technology’s monthly agreements include all on-site services required to maintain the environment. There are no hourly or trip charges.