As a business owner, the term ‘IT’ often inspires feelings of terror when it comes up for discussion.
Of course, IT itself isn’t scary – but when you’re thinking about starting or a growing a business, the price tag that comes attached to the networking infrastructure you’re likely to need can often be hair-raising.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can outsource your IT requirements – the most common of which involves employing the services of a managed service provider (MSP).
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits associated with MSPs – so you can get a feel for whether outsourcing some of your IT requirements to one would be a good fit for your organization.
A service that’s right for you
When you choose to work with an MSP, you’re going to get an IT support package that’s right for you.
Most MSPs can step in to help as much or as little as you wish. Are you a startup looking for ground-up network design, procurement, and installation service? No problem. Are you an established business with an in-house team that needs a little support? Again, no problem.
MSPs will base their service around an SLA – or Service Level Agreement. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your business IT needs, so making sure you sit down with your MSP to work out what this SLA looks like is an important part of the process.
The other great thing about an SLA is that it allows you to outline what the most important IT is for you. If you’ve got mission-critical systems that you can’t have down – even for a few minutes – then you can make sure your chosen provider formally acknowledges that.
No costly recruitment drives
Taking on an IT team is often very costly. That cost tends to begin with the actual recruitment process.
With an MSP, you sidestep this whole issue. You may very well have to have some high-level meetings between your decision-makers and the MSP – but you won’t have to go through the formal recruitment process.
If you don’t see an immediate benefit to this, then it’s worth considering some numbers. Studies show that a combination of agency fees, lost director time and background administration often costs a business in excess of $10,000 for a single recruitment drive. That’s the kind of saving that most organizations love to make…
No training and accreditation costs
As well as costly recruitment, IT teams come with a unique set of training and accreditation requirements.
Depending on the systems and hardware you use, your IT team will only be able to maintain them if they hold the right qualifications. Somewhat predictably, those qualifications are often time-intensive and costly – meaning there’s lost employee hours to go along with your training and development costs.
Using an MSP doesn’t negate the requirement for these qualifications – it simply passes it to the MSP to handle. Since your chosen MSP is going to offer you a monthly cost for their services based on the SLA you agree, you’ll find there’s nothing additional for you to pay – just a group of highly qualified people who’ll manage your IT.
24/7 service – when you need it
You might glance at the term ‘24/7’ and think it’s totally unnecessary for your business requirements – and if it is, that’s fine – but often, business IT requirements don’t sleep – so you’ll need a team that can attend to it around the clock too.
With an in-house team, this is an extremely costly measure to account for. A 24-hour staffing cycle requires a large team – but, with an MSP (who’s likely to be providing this staffing cover for other clients too) – 24/7 isn’t likely to bump your price up a great deal. If you can’t afford to drop the IT ball, then an MSP will make sure you’re always-on.
Ever-evolving best practice
There’s a significant difference between in-house IT specialists and MSPs – but few people consider it when they’re thinking about who to hire.
The reality is that when you employ an IT member of staff, you cut dead their broad range of working experience. Of course, that’s not to say that they won’t continue to learn with you – but their experience becomes more focused on just your systems.
This has its upsides – but when you’re growing, it’s extremely useful to have a wide range of experience, so you get the very best IT solution for your business – rather than what’s the ‘obvious’ or ‘easiest’ route to go down.
With IT, there’s tremendous value in being able to think ‘outside the box’ – and with hundreds of clients with a massive variety of systems, that’s exactly what an MSP will offer.
Support – before you know you need it
Although we’ve just talked about 24/7 support needs – not all companies require this level of hands-on support. Since an IT network doesn’t get shut-down on a Friday evening, just having some network monitoring systems in place is adequate to cover for your infrastructure.
If you’re starting out with an SD-WAN infrastructure, this kind of distance support is easily delivered – as network engineers will rarely need to roll up their sleeves and come to your site. The result? You’re far more likely to walk into your office on a Monday morning to find a “we had a problem but it’s fixed” email – rather than discovering your network is down and needs immediate attention.
A predictable IT outlay
We started this article talking about money – and the terror that snowballing IT costs can create when you’re reviewing company finances. It’s fair, therefore, to highlight exactly how MSPs remedy this common issue – and it comes back to the SLA.
Your SLA creates the price you’re going to pay your MSP. They’ll deliver the service you need – and you’ll pay the amount of money they charge – simple – but surprisingly uncommon in the world of IT. Think about an in-house team for a second – there’s a huge number of variables that can dictate an unexpected larger spend than you hoped for – including resignations, sickness, holidays, and so forth.
With an MSP, you get a predictable outlay and a stellar service in return. As any business owner knows, there’s a lot to be said for consistency of service and predictable costs. If these things sound enviable to you, it might be the right time to start considering getting in touch with the right MSP.