As critical as IT is to every business today, hiring a managed IT service provider is the best way to keep your IT operations running smoothly and consistently. Knowing where to begin can be hard.
A wide-ranging marketplace of managed IT service providers is out there. There are national outfits that offer low-cost, limited-service models (with many services outsourced abroad), regional MSPs with locally staffed white-glove operations that would delight even your CEO on a bad day, and even specialized MSPs that focus on specific industries or areas like compliance or security.
Focus on selecting the option that will serve your strategic business objectives. Low-cost options generally apply a one-size-fits-all model to diverse businesses, reducing what should be a strategic asset to an off-the-rack system. They leave you unable to adapt, pivot, or seize key opportunities.
Start by Thinking About IT as a Partnership
You’ll want an IT partnership that is truly tailored to your business, workflows, structures, and goals. The right provider will know your business (and often your software platforms) and will be experienced in helping companies grow to your target size. They'll adapt quickly and even lead as you respond to a rapidly evolving environment.
Seek out a provider that understands the big picture as much as the nitty-gritty. Their executive insights and strategic vision will go a long way toward formulating the best solutions for your business while keeping strategic objectives and ROI in focus.
Choose a Provider With Comprehensive IT Management Services
Not every managed IT service provider or solution is the same. You want one that can take tech completely off your plate so you can focus on the strategies and systems that drive your business forward.
The best providers serve as valuable partners in the success of your business. Their job is to provide comprehensive systems, reporting, and functionality that will seamlessly sync your tech with your long-term objectives.
Here’s what you’ll get from the right provider:
An entire team for about the same cost as hiring internally. Hiring a single IT person is inefficient for most business needs. You’ll find yourself profoundly under supported when a crisis hits. Managed service providers offer access to a trusted team that can scale up and down with your business' needs.
True experts in each role. Rather than asking a single generalist to be good at everything, partnering with an IT management company gives you specialists in every area. That means you have professionals in place to handle every scenario – from security to data recovery to communications systems and beyond.
A guide through compliance requirements. Many companies have strong compliance needs like HIPAA and PCI. IT security professionals are equipped to help you meet compliance standards at every step.
Stronger security. When you’re working with sensitive legal, financial, or medical information, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance. IT management services providers ensure that you’ve got the security protocols in place to keep you covered.
A commitment to zero downtime. Providers should be proactively monitoring critical IT assets to stay ahead of potential problems, so disruption doesn’t become a distraction for your business.
Understanding the Process
When evaluating IT managed service providers, pay close attention to their process. Is it structured and flexible? Both are critical. You want a provider that offers a comprehensive solution but also has the expertise to tailor it to your needs at every step of your development journey.
There are three basic stages:
- Assessment. This is where they learn your business. They conduct a full review of your existing IT systems, software, and security. In this process, they connect with your executive team and gain insight into your unique business objectives and values to ensure that your IT systems align with your strategic ends.
- Strategy. Managed service providers should start with a plan. With your organizational objectives in mind, they make sure that your IT systems, software, and security facilitate productivity and profitability at every step.
- Execution. While you move your business forward, providers proactively take care of your IT assets, staying ahead of issues, helping you scale for the future, and planning budgets that align with your business goals.
Monitoring Is a Full-Time Job
One key to managing IT is preventing downtime. That requires more than a check-in every now and then. It requires active IT management.
Managed service providers deploy specialized software that scans all of your network devices, observes your systems and software logs, and identifies issues before they create major problems. A sustainable system benefits your business at every turn and helps you thrive.
Good monitoring procedures also involve building routines and scheduling reporting and review procedures for all alerts, as well as creating alarms for urgent issues. It’s tough for small IT teams to get this right and almost impossible for a department of one to succeed at this. Server and network monitoring requires sophisticated IT management solutions that stay one step ahead of disruption.
Treat Your Data Like Gold
Your business runs on data. Email, presentations, financial records, contracts, designs – they’re only as safe as the data backup and recovery system you have in place. If your solution still involves swapping tapes or USB hard drives, you should be concerned.
IT managed service providers help your business implement modern backup solutions that include these core components:
Image-based backups. Image-based backups take snapshots of your system one or more times per day. Those images can be used to restore the entire system or an individual file in the case of loss or a disaster.
Local data. Local backups allow you to retrieve and restore your data quickly in the event of an IT system hack or a catastrophic outage.
Offsite cloud-based storage. Cloud-based backups protect your business from physical disasters such as fires, floods, or earthquakes.
Cloud-to-cloud backup. Cloud-to-cloud backups protect your Google Workspace or Office 365 data in the event of hacking and/or accidental deletion.
Get IT Done
Your IT systems should be a strategic asset in your operations arsenal, and you need professionals who you can trust to keep them sharp.
An experienced managed IT service provider can provide end-to-end technology support customized to your business. From budgeting to upgrades to backup and recovery, an IT service partner can help you minimize downtime, maximize technology investments, and empower your teams to focus on what they do best.