Why IT Managed Services Are Important for Your Business
Businesses of every size in every industry use technology, but not every business is equipped to get the most out of that technology without the use of a managed services model.
Between daily security threats and constantly evolving technology, it can feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up without the help of a third party provider. It takes a fully staffed, highly trained in house team skilled in IT systems to keep on top of it all.
Enter managed IT service providers. As companies that specialize in Information Technology, they are generally the most experienced and cost-effective option when it comes to installing, maintaining, remote monitoring, and protecting your systems and data.
Even if you already have internal IT department or someone you call to fix your computers when they break, managed IT services are an especially smart investment for your business operations. Read on to learn why.
What Are Managed IT Services?
Before we look at why Managed IT is a good investment, let’s first take look at what Managed IT typically entails.
Managed IT Services are provided by a third-party IT company, also known as a Managed Service Provider (MSP). The IT company takes responsibility for some, or all, of a business’s information technology in exchange for a monthly fee.
Every agreement is unique, but some common examples of services include:
- Security Monitoring
- Server Maintenance
- Network Administration
- IT Help Desk Support
- Phone System Installation & Maintenance
- Cloud Account Management
- Data Backup & Recovery
It’s important to talk with managed service providers to make sure you both understand which services you need.
Benefits of Managed Services
Focus on Your Core Business
You know what your business does best. Your IT infrastructure is critical for supporting your mission, but it isn’t the mission itself. Businesses that use Managed IT Services can allocate more resources (time, attention, money) into the core function of the business rather than supporting technology. Consider this example:
Sarah is the Chief Operating Officer for ABC Healthcare. She has been tasked with identifying strategies to deliver more consistent service between providers. However, network connectivity issues have resulted in frequent unplanned downtime in ABC Healthcare’s clinics.
Because the IT department reports to Sarah, she has to focus on resolving the immediate downtime issues rather than the more strategically important task of standardizing services. A Managed IT Provider would be able to diagnose, resolve, and proactively monitor the network, thereby freeing Sarah up to focus on improving patient experiences.
Hackers using ransomware, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, and other malware are working 24/7 to infiltrate businesses large and small.
Breaches at large companies make the news, but according to the Department of Homeland Security, 50 – 70% of ransomware attacks are committed against small and medium sized businesses that never make it into the news. What’s more, roughly 60% of attacked small businesses fail within six months of an attack.
Managed IT services take two types of actions to protect your business. First, preventative actions reduce the likelihood that you will be attacked. This includes technologies like enterprise-grade firewalls, geo-fencing off risky countries and geographies, security monitoring services, and most importantly, education for your employees to recognize and stop attempted breaches.
Second, preparation actions reduce and contain the effects of a security breach. A best practice is to operate under an “assumed breach” mentality, meaning it’s not a matter of if a breach will occur, but when.
Managed IT services can help separate (segment) systems and networks so that breaches can be contained, then back up data for recovery, and create a response plan to ensure business continuity.
Supplement Your Current IT Staff
Managed IT services can be designed to work in conjunction with your current IT staff. This is called Co-managed IT, and it’s a cost-effective way to amplify the capabilities of your IT department. Let’s look at three common examples.
- You have an IT generalist – Your generalist is a technical whiz at day to day tasks. You can count on them to reliably fix any technical issues and keep your systems up to date, but they don’t have the certifications or skill set to handle higher level tasks like cloud migrations or strategic technology planning to give your business a competitive edge. Well managed IT services companies often have a large internal team with diverse expertise in proactive maintenance who can step in to be sure the job is done correctly. This frees your IT generalist to focus on what they’re best at.
- You have a strategic IT leader – The IT leader has the valuable knowledge and skills to handle high-level, high-value IT tasks, but they’re bogged down with routine help requests and maintenance. A managed IT services company can step in and handle lower-level IT tasks at a fraction of the cost of hiring an internal technician.
- You have an IT team – Medium-sized businesses often have multiple people in the IT function, but even with full teams, skill gaps often emerge. Managed service providers fill in those gaps by having robust teams with wide-ranging skill sets at a much lower cost compared to adding headcount. With a strong managed IT service provider, IT tasks are handled seamlessly by both teams. Firms that have an IT department sometimes contract with an MSP for “Top Gun” support, where the IT department triages support tickets and routes the really tough issues to the MSP. This is an example of how the MSP can be an extension of your own IT staff.
Ease of Budgeting
Some firms prefer to retain an MSP with a Time & Materials relationship. Under this type of plan, the MSP is only contacted when problems occur.
Unfortunately the MSP is often not contacted to periodically install patches to infrastructure devices and software suites. When problems occur, the MSP will usually apply multiple out of date patches in addition to the troubleshooting and configuration testing that must occur for resolution. This often results in large labor bills that were not budgeted for, as well as operational downtime that would have been minimized or eliminated under a Managed IT plan.
Managed Services vendor plans are generally billed monthly for a fixed amount, so you can easily budget for IT expenses as a part of the business processes. In a traditional break/fix model, you may go several months without paying much for your IT, but when critical systems fail, you’re suddenly stuck with a five-figure bill you didn’t budget for.
Under a Managed IT plan, monthly bills are consistent with a monthly fee for clearly defined services covered in the service level agreement (SLA). Some Managed IT Service providers charge a flat monthly rate, while others will charge based on the number of devices or number of employees your business has. In either case, it’s very easy to calculate monthly bills. Important to note is that managed service plans typically cover IT services.
Hardware costs, like new laptops for employees, will need to be budgeted for separately. Your Managed IT Provider can often help identify & budget for equipment upgrades, and in securing hardware at preferential pricing due to volume discounts with technology distributors.
LeeShanok authored several budget-related articles:
Better Service Than Break/Fix Services
Ever hear the expression, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Just as Managed Services are better for predictable budget planning, they also provide better service with faster response times. In the long run, Managed IT services save businesses money and time by proactively managing IT.
Break/Fix services are IT services done on request. When you need work done, you call an IT service provider and they perform the work, billing you for time any materials.
IT Managed Services take a much more complete view of your IT than a typical IT team or support services. Plans often include routine maintenance and proactive monitoring along with repairs.
Substantial Cost Savings
Hiring a Managed IT Services company allows you to fulfill the same IT needs at a significantly lower price than hiring additional personnel. By specializing in IT, managed services providers have personnel and technology that are more efficient than most in-house capabilities. With these cost savings, clients can often shift budget to activities that produce a greater ROI.
Consider this example – A&B Construction needs to improve their network infrastructure so their on-site supervisors can securely send daily reports back to the home office. They know they’ll need to hire a new IT person to oversee the network. At the same time, the company has been eyeing a new, more efficient piece of heavy equipment that would reduce job cycle times. If A&B Construction only has funds to support one, which do they choose? Hiring a Managed IT company would allow them to do both.
Outsourcing to an IT Managed Services Provider is less expensive than adding personnel, so the money A&B Construction saves can be used for the new equipment. More money is invested in profit-driving operational activities than in cost centers, but both objectives are achieved!
Peace of Mind
You know you’ve found the right IT managed services provider when the anxiety of system failures and data breaches disappears. A good IT services company gives you confidence in your technology, from day-to-day operations to long-term strategy.
For some, there’s a sense of relief in bringing managed services provider experts aboard that identify, solve, and prevent problems. When issues do arise, there’s comfort in knowing you have a trusted team with a plan to restore operations as quickly as possible. Not only does an MSP proactively manage your infrastructure, but will also help you plan for business continuity and disaster recovery should failures occur. This too brings peace of mind, as issues can be resolved in hours instead of days or weeks.
Ready to Explore Managed Service Providers for Your IT Needs?
You know why you need a managed services provider for your IT needs, so what’s the next step? Evaluate potential IT managed services providers with our Guide to evaluating IT Service providers. It includes questions to ask that will help you identify the managed services providers with the skills and capacity to properly support your business. LeeShanok Network Solutions has been providing managed services in IT to Arizona businesses for 25 years. We have a dedicated team and proven track record of delivering proactive monitoring, cloud computing, technology services, and strategic initiatives as your business grows. Enjoy these benefits and more by scheduling a complimentary consultation with us today to see if we’re a good fit for your business.