Founder - Waterhouse Web
Created / Edited: 10.3.2021
We seek support whenever making critical business decisions, and digital ones shouldn't be any different. Why and how should you seek support from an IT managed service provider?
In today’s world, there are few things more important to businesses of all sizes than a well-maintained technology stack. Without careful attention and maintenance applied to the technology that supports operations, you have yourself a ticking time bomb – one that will blow up in your face.
Large companies tend to understand this, and they often will have large IT departments whose sole focus is maintaining the technical underpinnings of the business as a whole. But for some reason, small businesses think they can get away without professional services in this regard. They tend to delude themselves into thinking that they can get by without proper assistance, and this is a big mistake.
All small businesses should really be making use of a managed service provider.
A managed service provider refers to a company to which you outsource all of the technology maintenance, support, infrastructure and security services to. These companies have wide-ranging expertise in the space and provide comprehensive services both on-premises and virtually.
Depending on the contract, they can become an integral part of your operations, with service providers becoming part of the internal staff complement; or they can remain a separate entity that is called upon when needed, without being involved in the key strategic decision making of the company.
There are a number of important reasons why a small business can benefit from a managed service provider:
Security: Effective cyber security has never been more important, especially as more and more people are starting to work remotely. Without professional security services, you leave yourself open to tremendous risk across the board. A managed service provider can take care of all the security requirements of your company giving you the peace of mind to know that you are protected.
Professional Consultations: When a small business makes an important IT decision without doing their homework, it can have some rather drastic unexpected side-effects. Having a professional team that you can consult on these technical topics removes that risk and makes sure that your foundations are solid on which to scale up from. It’s much better to get things right from the start, then to try and fix errors later down the line.
Support: IT problems tend to attack you when you can least afford them and having quick and reliable tech support on hand can be a lifesaver. When everything is falling apart, you want someone to call.
Robust Systems: We don’t need to tell you how crucial it is for a small business to have their systems running reliably and consistently so as not to impede growth. A managed service provider is your continuous watchdog, keeping systems running smoothly and implementing important maintenance as and when required.
Focus on Core Competencies: Focus is everything in a small business and when you outsource your IT services in this way, you can deploy your resources more effectively towards the core competencies that are driving you forward in the marketplace. Focus on what you’re good at and outsource the rest.
Not necessarily. Depending on the type of business and the technology skills already within your staff, you can decide just how involved a managed service provider is. The idea is they come in to complement your existing processes, stretching and moulding to suit your individual needs.
By identifying exactly which IT components they are going to assist with, you can craft a contract that delivers only what you need and nothing more. This can shift over time as you grow, but the scope of involvement is always up to you as the business owner.
This will depend on the specific provider and your agreed upon working relationship, but typically they will render their services remotely for the most part. In the initial phase they might have to come into the office in person for initial implementations, but otherwise most support these days can be administered from off-campus. You call upon them when you need them.
When the provider intends to undertake key updates or changes that might affect business as usual, they will provide advanced notice so that you can plan around the interruptions and aren’t taken by surprise.
Building on that, clear communication is crucial. So, it’s a good idea to set up routine meetings to discuss the status of various IT projects, long-term strategic planning, and next action points so that everyone is on the same page.
Great! You’ve decided that a managed service provider might be a good idea for you.
Here are some next steps to kick off those conversations:
Spend some time reflecting on your business at the moment and identify those areas where you need help. What are your goals for the business? What bottlenecks are you seeing from a technology perspective? Where might a managed service provider add value? The clearer your brief, the smoother the whole process will be.
Now, go through those identified goals and prioritize them. Can you identify the 20% of effort that will create 80% of the results? Can you identify those small steps that will have the largest knock-on effects? Starting small and building momentum from there is the best way to get started.
Do your research and contact a few managed service providers. Explain your goals and needs as clearly as you can. Then spend some time comparing your options and finding the one that is right for you.
The moment you do this, your small business will change forever. You’ll wonder why you didn’t outsource your IT sooner. Trust us, your future self will thank you.