26 May Managed Service Providers: Benefits, Drawbacks, and How to Choose the Right One
In a tight IT labor market and with everything in general getting more expensive, it’s become increasingly common for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to look for technology solutions that allow them to operate more efficiently while managing costs more effectively.
One solution that remains popular is adopting the Managed Service Provider (MSP) model.
In fact, nearly 88% of companies surveyed in advance of London Tech Week said they use or are currently assessing using MSPs to support their internal IT teams.
U.S. based companies tend to lead the supplemental use of MSPs. These partnerships help them stay up to date with the latest technology while improving overall network performance.
To help you decide if a MSP is right for your organization, we’ll look at the nuances of the MSP model. First by examining the pros and cons, then by discussing the best ways to evaluate if an MSP is the right choice for supporting your business or supplementing your IT department.
What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?
A managed server provider is a company that remotely manages a client’s IT infrastructure. This can include monitoring of end-user systems. MSPs typically operate on a proactive basis and under a subscription model.
MSPs can cover a range of services such as network architecture, applications, infrastructure, and security protocols. This allows the MSP’s client to focus on their core business activities while the MSP handles their IT needs.
With a MSP handling day-to-day operations, internal IT departments can be deployed to handle larger, more complex issues.
Pros of the MSP Model
- You get the benefit of the MSPs expertise and experience.
MSPs can bring a wealth of knowledge and skill to the table. Their teams are experienced in a variety of IT environments and complex technologies. Closing this skill gap would be costly for the average SMB to accomplish in-house.
- The MSP shoulders most costs related to maintaining a modern, secure technology infrastructure.
Under the typical MSP model, you pay for what you need, when you need it. This allows for more predictable budgeting, lowered capital expenditures, and eliminates the expenses associated with hiring, onboarding, and maintaining full-time IT staff.
- Since MSPs have highly trained – and often round the clock staffing – they can provide proactive support.
Their technicians are constantly monitoring customer operations to identify and resolve issues before they cause downtime or loss of productivity. This can greatly enhance the reliability and efficiency of your IT systems.
- Working with an MSP allows you greater opportunity to scale operations without the direct overhead of expensive computing hardware purchases or need to hire highly skilled and in demand IT professionals.
As you reach business development benchmarks, an MSP can easily scale your IT services to meet your evolving needs. This flexibility combined with cost savings can prove invaluable in a rapidly changing business environment.
Cons of the MSP Model
- You may feel that working with an MSP represents a loss of control over your IT.
With an MSP handling your IT operations, some control over your infrastructure and systems is relinquished. This could potentially pose issues with specific operational procedures your business may need.
- Working with an MSP creates a certain level of dependence.
After integration of an MSP into your daily business operations, it can be difficult to transition away. Some complaints around MSPs suggest that users feel a certain degree of vendor lock-in.
- Working with the wrong MSP can delay communication and response time.
As with any service provider, not all MSPs are created equal. Some may not be equipped to provide the rapid response or clear communication your business requires. This can be particularly acute if they are in a different time zone from you or have a high client-to-technician ratio.
Evaluating if an MSP is Right for Your Organization
Choosing to work with an MSP is a strategic decision and should be carefully considered.
Here are some factors to evaluate:
- Be clear and understand your current needs. Begin with an assessment of your organization’s IT needs:
- What IT tasks are you currently handling in-house?
- Could these be better managed by an MSP?Also consider your future needs so you select an MSP who has the agility to scale with you.You want to “start with the end in mind” by choosing an MSP that will be able to grow and adapt with your business.
- Always double check their expertise.
Research the MSP to confirm they have experience and expertise relevant to your industry. This not only pertains to their technical capabilities, but also their understanding of regulatory compliance – like HIPAA – and any specific security or privacy challenges your particular industry may face.
- Review and be sure you truly understand their Service Level Agreement (SLA).
The SLA should clearly define – in plain language — what services the MSP will provide. It should include their responsibilities, uptime, and expected response times. Make sure it aligns with your business needs and expectations.
- When hiring, look for a partner, not just a provider.
An MSP should be seen as a strategic partner that is invested in the success of your business. Look for an MSP that values relationship building and will work closely with you to help your business thrive.
Incorporating an MSP into your business strategy can offer significant benefits, from cost savings to access to expert-level IT resources.
However, it’s important to weigh these benefits against the potential drawbacks and evaluate if the MSP model aligns with your business objectives.
By carefully considering your needs and thoroughly vetting potential providers, you can find an MSP that becomes an invaluable partner in your organization’s growth and success.
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