As your business operations evolve and expand, you’ll likely reach a critical point in your company’s growth where the tasks required will outnumber the staff you have available. Deciding to outsource work might be a difficult decision, partly because of budgeting and partly because onboarding new parties to your business’ processes is daunting—especially if you’re already stretched too thin. But as CEOs recently interviewed by McKinsey pointed out, “If you don’t [prioritize], you’ll sit in your office all day, read lots of reports, and end up being completely confused.”
In such situations, many CEOs choose to work with a managed service provider (MSP). Particularly for IT services, a managed provider can be a highly sensible solution.
What is a managed service provider?
A managed service provider, or MSP, is a company that remotely handles a specific set of processes for another company. At the center of this working relationship is the contract set between the two companies, which tends to be very strictly enforced to map out exactly what services the MSP will provide.
Why should my business hire a managed service provider?
Hiring an MSP translates into having a specialized agency handling your networks and users, in a way that not only aligns with your company’s processes but also optimizes security, efficiency, and industry best practices. As part of this, there are four key benefits to hiring an MSP as opposed to hiring employees to manage these tasks:
A managed service provider can do a better quality job. An MSP is dedicated to handling the processes it offers. It carries out its specialized offerings repeatedly and consistently for its clients. Its people are well-trained, highly skilled, and experienced at delivering the specific services outlined in its contracts because those tasks are at the core of its operation. An MSP has to invest in the best tools and processes in order to remain competitive, and so it is intrinsically driven to streamline its efforts in order to protect its bottom line. With such a strong focus and so many reasons to push for excellence, an MSP can sustainably deliver its services, stay on top of industry trends, and build sharp solutions that anticipate any potential issues and get ahead of them, all as part of its ongoing services—without requiring any additional input or cost from you.
A managed service provider guarantees their work. If an employee’s work is inadequate—so, for example, if your IT person fails to deliver a secure solution and your network is compromised—your main form of recourse is to fire them. That doesn’t bring you closer to completing the work you need, and it doesn’t account for any of the resources you lost as a result; any next steps you take will involve spending more in order to address the problem, and then to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. Given IT’s security implications, it’s also critical that whoever is handling it for you minimizes risks and addresses vulnerabilities long before anything can go wrong. As CEO of McAfee Chris Young reminds us: “… From the earliest stages of product design, to selecting vendor partners to writing job descriptions — security needs to be top of mind for every critical decision, every new process, every rule.”In some industries such as health, legal, and finance, there are additional considerations such as confidentiality and government regulations for which your business is ultimately liable. Not only are managed service providers up-to-date on emerging threats and the latest regulation, but they guarantee their services. This delivers higher quality results to you and also protects your investment—and your business—when purchasing their services.
A managed service provide can save your business money. The typical MSP pricing structure involves an upfront fee and then an ongoing monthly retainer for recurring tasks. Here’s what you don’t have to pay for: recruiting and onboarding costs to hire dedicated personnel; technology and tools for these new employees; training and continuing education to make sure they stay up-to-date on industry developments; overtime costs that result from these employees having to juggle their regular duties with troubleshooting; and more. It’s not just money that you’re saving. Your team already doesn’t have the time to address the concerns for which you’re trying to hire or outsource; don’t replace one problem (managing IT) with another (managing those who manage your IT).
A managed service provider is always there. What happens if the employee you hired calls in sick, or if your internal IT team finds itself short-staffed for any measure of time? Something will have to get dropped as your people scramble to fill the gaps and keep critical processes going. Contrast this situation with having an MSP, which is built to accommodate fluctuations of internal team availability. The staffing at MSPs is built to overlap capabilities, and both internal documentation and communications protocols are constructed for maximum flexibility and accountability. This keeps your IT processes flowing, uninterrupted.
This is a high-level survey of ways in which MSPs commonly help businesses. Your specific industry, niche, and offering will likely benefit in additional ways that are not addressed here, and that are also affected by the specific options you choose from your MSP.