What Are Managed IT Services, Really?

These days, every business needs some level of IT support. Even a custom cabinet maker toiling away in their garage has to have at least an email address, a website, and a way to track orders.

For small to mid-sized businesses, finding the right level of IT support can be especially challenging, since the company’s needs may not justify building out a full-scale IT operation internally.

After looking at the different levels of IT support needed, many companies choose to partner with a managed services provider (or MSP). Unfortunately, not every company calling itself an MSP provides all the services required to merit the name.

What makes for a real MSP? And what makes them different from an IT shop? 

While true MSPs come in a wide variety of flavors, there are a number of specific traits that separate them from smaller providers – seven of them, in fact. These are:

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1. A Comprehensive IT Service Portfolio

True MSPs don’t merely address a company’s immediate IT concerns. They offer a full suite of services aimed at optimizing a clients’ IT infrastructure and helping them achieve their business goals.

These services can include everything from IT budgeting and hardware replacement to remote and on-site support, network monitoring, IT procurement, IT security, and more.

2. Specialists in Every Role

Unlike generic IT shops, an MSP has a team of specialists proficient in every component of IT. That means network engineers, cybersecurity experts, solutions architects, help desk specialists, and so on.  

Small IT shops tend to have a few good people wearing many hats, while a true MSP has an enterprise-grade IT specialist in each area of its business.

3. A Proactive Approach

Being reactive is the bare minimum of IT support. When something breaks, they fix it. The problem is, when something goes wrong, it usually leads to downtime – and downtime leads to lost opportunities and lost revenue.

MSPs, in contrast, take a proactive approach to IT management by continuously monitoring networks and hardware, performing preventive maintenance, and identifying potential issues before they escalate.

4. A Fixed-Fee Subscription Model

One of the defining features of a true MSP is its subscription-based pricing model [Link: IT Budgeting post once published]. Rather than bill clients for every service request or hour spent on a problem, MSPs offer fixed-fee arrangements typically centered around a specific number of users and locations.

This predictable pricing structure not only provides clarity and transparency for a company, it aligns the best interests of the MSP with those of its clients – in other words, a partnership where mutual success looks like a minimum number of IT issues while your team achieves maximum productivity.

5. Scalability and Flexibility

A small IT shop claiming to be an MSP often struggles to scale its operations or adapt to evolving client needs. This is due to a lack of resources and expertise, a one-two punch that usually leads to poor performance as a client scales.

True MSPs, meanwhile, are equipped to accommodate growth and change course quickly, whether that means expanding an IT infrastructure, integrating new technologies, or adjusting service levels as the needs of the client change.

6. A Commitment to the Customer Experience

Beyond having technical proficiency, MSPs prioritize the overall experience of their customers. From responsible support and clear communication to strategic guidance, long-term IT planning, and proactive recommendations, MSPs go above and beyond to build long-term relationships with clients.

7. Expertise in Security and Regulatory Compliance

Cybersecurity is no joke, and keeping up with regulatory changes is a big challenge for any business.

True MSPs not only implement robust security measures by following industry best practices but they also help clients navigate the complicated knot of rules and regulations so they can ensure their operations stay out of trouble with the powers that be.

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The Benefits of Finding the Right Partner

While even a small IT shop or wanna-be MSP can manage to keep the lights on for their clients, companies that partner with true business-focused MSPs find themselves in a much better position.

Why? Because a small to mid-sized business that outsources its IT to a true MSP is able to:

  • Improve efficiency and productivity, since they are able to focus on their core business activities without being burdened by tech
  • Lower costs by depending on the predictability of the MSP fixed-fee subscription model, allowing them to allocate their IT budget more effectively
  • Access specialists whenever they need them to tackle whatever problem or issue arises
  • Enjoy peace of mind from knowing there are robust security measures in place and proactive threat detection happening to keep bad actors at bay
  • Rely upon a partner that can help them build an IT roadmap that meets their current needs and the needs they’ll have in the future

Real IT Support Requires Trust

For small to mid-sized companies especially, IT services are too important to place in the hands of providers that overpromise and underdeliver. 

If you’re currently looking for an IT partner or are thinking of elevating the level of IT support you receive, make sure to find an MSP that has the specialized roles, a full suite of services, and a commitment to your success that you need to keep your business thriving.

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Kevin is the Founder and CEO of Dynamic Computing. He’s both a visionary leader and an expert hands on practitioner with years of experience in all things IT. Dynamic Computing makes technology work for top-performing small to mid-sized organizations in the Seattle area. We offer managed IT services, IT consulting and transformations for companies from a few to a few hundred employees. Kevin founded Dynamic Computing in the year 2000 while in attending the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. As a fourth generation small business owner and entrepreneur, Kevin knew that small to mid-sized companies needed a better solution to help guide and support their use of technology. So he set out to build a company that would look closer to truly understand our clients' businesses and partner with them to guide and support them on their path. Over the past few years, we've focused our energy on growth, change and improvement, scaling our operations and improving our processes with every step. We've managed to triple the size of our team and revenues while consistently ranking among the best in class for industry performance. Kevin was recognized as a 40 under 40 honoree by the Puget Sound Business Journal in 2018 and as Washington State's Mr. Future Business Leader by FBLA in 1998. So what’s next? Well, we're building the premier managed IT services company in the Pacific Northwest and we won’t stop until we get there. We hope you’ll join us on our journey.