43% of all cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses. By 2021, the global cost of online crime is expected to reach $6 trillion.
That’s a lot to consider, especially since cybersecurity is only one part of what a managed service provider (MSP) does for your company. But if you want to protect your business and your profits, hiring managed IT services is a wise investment.
Not all businesses understand how vital MSP is to their business or how to choose the right one for their needs. That’s why we’ve developed this guide.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about managed services.
What a managed service provider does
What is a managed service provider? MSPs are companies that remotely manage their customer’s IT (information technology) infrastructure and/or end-user systems.
Most are provided under a subscription model and are there to proactively circumvent potential future problems. Both parties enter a service level agreement and the support is delivered through the internet.
Why companies use managed service providers
Not every company can afford to hire in-house full-time IT professionals. Other companies require additional capabilities or want to shift that type of routine operational work away from their staff to free them up for more value-added, strategic work.
Every day technology grows more complex. Most companies don’t have the resources to help their in-house staff contend with it all. A good MSP company can provide a steady level of additional support to meet today’s challenging requirements.
Also, you’re receiving support 24/7 with an MSP, something that isn’t as likely if you hire your own IT personnel. Companies today can’t afford to be without 24/7 support and monitoring.
What to consider when hiring a managed services company
When looking for managed IT services, you need to take your time to find the company that can provide you with the services you need at a price you can afford.
Experienced in your industry
Find a company who has actual experience working in your industry. If your an accountant, find one who works with accounting firms rather than a managed service provider that focuses primarily on supporting the restaurant industry.
They’ll know what potential problems lie ahead and can anticipate your needs.
Look for an MSP company who has been around for a while. You want to make sure they’ll last as long as your company does. Otherwise, if they go under, you’re on the hook to find another company to immediate pick up the slack.
You can ask for financial statements or search for press releases to verify their history.
Avoid MSPs that charge by the hour. Look for those who charge flat fees for specific services. Make sure you fully understand their billing structure before signing a contract.
That way, you will always know the effect on your accounts payable and there won’t be any unpleasant surprises to your bottom line.
Make sure your managed service provider offers a contract which includes a list of services that covers the entire scope of your specific needs. That should include phones, tablets, computers, cloud computing, and payment systems.
If they can’t handle everything, find a company that can.
Make sure your MSP is properly insured and the company has a current policy in place. That way, you’ll get paid if they make any mistakes.
Otherwise, you may be on the hook if they make a costly mistake.
Find out what their typical course of action is when troubleshooting specific problems for a client. Your focus needs to be on finding a company who reacts quickly when a problem arises.
You don’t want to find out weeks after the fact that you’ve been hacked. It’s also a good idea to ask if they’re willing to provide in-house service if and when necessary.
Ask if they handle all their work in-house or if they outsource. Companies that outsource may mean you have to wait longer for services to be provided.
You also have no idea who they’ve hired and you may not have direct access to speak to that person, especially if they’re located outside of the country.
If they do their work in-house, make sure they have enough personnel on staff to handle your needs and can respond quickly to fix any and all problems. Make sure you know exactly who is handling your account. Find a company that offers you a dedicated team of professionals whom you can contact directly.
Ability to innovate
A good managed services company makes sure they’re on top of the latest technology and offer the best services based that technology. That will help ensure your company remains functional, relevant, and contemporary.
Cybersecurity is a huge and growing threat. If you choose a company that isn’t interested in focusing on the latest technology, there’s a good chance your company will become a victim.
Flexibility and scalability
Most companies experience ebbs and flows. You want to find an MSP that offers more than cookie-cutter solutions. And you need to make sure that as your requirements change, your MSP company lets you scale up or down as needed.
Make sure they offer a variety of business applications, telephony options, and data plans. You should also have the flexibility to decide which hardware you have installed in your office.
Accept nothing less than 100% visibility into your IT environment through a web-based customer portal complete with a centralized management dashboard. This will allow you to know immediately what’s being done to your IT infrastructure, along with what has been done and what still needs to be completed.
You should also be able to view your IT environment as a whole while having the ability to see individual components. Look for a company that allows you to run reports so you can use them for long-term IT planning.
Look for a company offering support and monitoring for data, voice, and security on a 24/7/365 basis. Most of this will be done remotely but the MSP should also offer prompt on-site servicing if something can’t be diagnosed or fixed from a distance.
Read up on the latest technology trends
While your managed service provider should be up on the latest technology trends, it will help you to do the same. Knowing the latest trends will keep you and all your devices safe.
You’ll also know about the latest trends to help you increase productivity and have a little fun. Keep coming back here to learn about the latest news in technology today.