Does your business use technology (that’s a rhetorical question)? Who monitors the technology, the network, and the users? Do you have redundancies in place? Who is responsible for ‘fixing’ technology in your business? Many businesses, of all sizes, are turning to Managed Service Providers to free up personnel and provide a better IT infrastructure at a lower cost. Here are some things to consider when determining if a Managed Services Provider (MSP) is right for your business.
Jack of all Trades, Master of None
If you are relying on an internal person or limited staff for IT support, you may be putting your business at risk. After all, today’s IT infrastructure is global. The software your business utilizes, the data you store in the cloud, technical support teams, and even hackers are working around the clock, in all parts of the world. These dynamics require technical expertise and support well beyond what one person or a small team can humanly provide. A Managed Service Provider allows you to tap into a much wider array of resources, knowledge and expertise, often at a lower cost. MSPs also typically invest in ongoing training for their team, are in touch with the latest threats, and can be an invaluable resource for capital expenditures.
What do Managed Services Providers Do?
The short answer is that MSPs run all of the technology behind your business. MSPs typically provide a wide array of services and expertise including, but certainly not limited to:
- IT Infrastructure & Network Monitoring
- Cloud Integration
- Software & Hardware Acquisition, Implementation & Licensing
- End User Support such as Help Desk, Email & Technical Support
- Backup & Recovery Systems
- Endpoint Security
- VOIP, MFD Integration, & More!
In addition, MSPs offer expertise in multiple technologies and solutions, and are continuously training on new technologies. This allows an MSP to be a great resource when considering new technologies for your business too!
Going Beyond Daily Operations
While it’s critical to provide support to existing technology for your business’ daily operations, there are many decisions about new technology that must be considered from a bigger picture perspective. The truth is, not all technology results in more productivity. One platform may not seamlessly integrate with another. A set of data from one system may need to be uploaded or analyzed before it is integrated into another system. And most importantly, who owns the data – you or the software provider? These are important questions that require a holistic approach to technology.
For example, let’s say that your company is evaluating a new CRM for your sales team. There is a significant pain point with your current systems and your sales leadership have gone through the initial demo and are advocating the purchase of this software. The vendor says that integration and training will be ‘easy.’ However, the CRM must integrate with existing operations and back-office systems. Some companies fix one problem with new technology while creating five more problems, within their organization. An MSP can be invaluable when making these kinds of decisions, but it’s important to have the right MSP partner. Conscious Networks advocates a more holistic approach to technology which may include more in-depth analysis and questions like:
- How easily does the data integrate and will those systems update each other in real time?
- What is the System of Ownership and Source of Truth for all data within your organization?
- Which set of data (operations or sales) will be most up-to-date or accurate?
- Once your salespeople input their data, who owns it and how is it protected? What are the terms of the ULA?
- What other solutions may provide the same benefits to the sales team, but better integration with your other systems?
- What are the short and long-term costs?
- How is your data protected by the software provider? (In other words, if their systems get hacked, what are the repercussions and impacts of having your data ‘out there’?)
- How often are updates made, how are they rolled out, and and what training is provided to users?
This type of analysis and holistic approach ensures that you are making informed decisions about technology that will enhance your productivity and workflows, while supporting company growth initiatives.
Not All MSPs Are The Same
When choosing an MSP, you should methodically proceed by evaluating the MSP’s capabilities and areas of expertise along with security protocols. After all, their employees will be interacting with your employees potentially your network. The MSP’s technical expertise and knowledge will be critical to your long term growth and capital expenditures. And, most importantly, what happens when a crisis occurs – because in today’s cyber-driven world, every business is at risk. You’ll want to evaluate your MSP’s capabilities by exploring:
- What is their disaster recovery plan, redundancy strategies and historical uptimes stats?
- How does the MSP update or maintain their infrastructure?
- What are their fee structures and how do the costs change as your business grows?
- All-encompassing or a la carte?
- Limitations on number of times you can call the help desk, or the number of devices covered, with signification escalations beyond those limitations? Note: Many larger MSPs have low fees for a small number of services, but the fees escalate dramatically as usage, data storage, or other infrastructure services grow over time.
- What kind of reporting, communication and oversight is provided? How often?
- How does the MSP support your growth initiatives?
- Is the help desk U.S. based or located in a different time zone or with ESL support teams? What are the hours?
- What happens to your data if you leave the MSP?
- Who will be your primary point of contact? How many team members will support your account?
If you are considering whether a Managed Service Provider is the right decision for your business, schedule a consultation with Conscious Networks. We have provided a conscious approach to technology for over 20 years.