Successfully operating a small and medium sized business in any Canadian city is challenging because of the many competing demands and challenges business face every day. Teams are small, lean and often pushed to the limit to get the job done in less time and hit all milestones and goals. Today, every small and medium sized business uses technology to plan, execute and deliver value to customers. As a result, business leaders are increasingly choosing to outsource their day-to-day IT management responsibilities to a third party company as a strategic way to improve operations. This practice is known as managed services and is provided by an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP).
There are 5 key benefits for SMBs to choose an IT Managed Services model including:
1. Strategic CTO guidance and planning
A managed services provider (MSP) is a long-term trusted partner, who can offer ongoing and reliable technical expertise that drives business goals. An MSP, along with a dedicated point person acts like your own chief technical officer (CTO) and is always on call without the added expense of hiring an in-house employee. Strategic guidance related to evaluating hardware and software upgrades, new purchases and security concerns are available to senior level management to measure against business goals, milestones and return on investment.
2. Proactively Monitor and Measure System Performance
Most businesses do not catch IT problems before they happen if they don’t have dedicated staff to manage and monitor problems. Most in-house IT support staff react to IT problems by ‘putting out fires’ rather than proactively managing and thinking about long-term goals. When reacting to an IT issue, most organizations inadequately respond to a system overload, crash or disruption to the business because they lack the expertise. Another reason to monitor and manage IT systems for a business is against threats from malware and viruses.
According to Business Matters, a small and medium enterprise publication:
“In the second half of 2016, malware downloads and access to phishing web pages were blocked on over 22 percent of enterprise computers. Almost every fifth machine at least once faced the risk of infection or credential compromise via the Internet.”
The results of not proactively installing security patches and monitoring utilization levels of critical applications can lead to downtime, lost employee productivity, frustration and turnover, lost sales, security breaches, data loss and even business closure.
3. Faster Reliable Response Times
Many businesses need 24-7 support but this is expensive with in-house employees. When in-house staff leave for the day, after hours support by an MSP leads to quick and easy diagnosis and resolution of an issue instead of worrying when an overworked IT employee getting to it. With an MSP, businesses don’t have to get bogged down and have peace of mind. Since they MSP offer predictable pricing, resources can be allocated elsewhere.
Its true that employees make mistakes using technology. One of the reasons is that internal IT staff doesn’t have the time or the skills themselves to train employees about best practices to ensure safe and secure use of technology. While most mistakes can be resolved quickly, some mistakes lead to bigger problems that require deeper expertise such as a data breach cyber attack. For example, a Wall Street Journal article reports that about 30 percent of data breaches in 2015 were caused by employee error, according to a survey published in December 2015 by the Association of Corporate Counsel. An MSP is better equipped at regularly training and quickly troubleshooting against employees errors if this is part of a company’s strategic IT security goals.
4. Predictable Streamlined Costs
In-house IT personnel constantly “fight fires” and have limited time to focus on strategic and innovative projects. Companies sometimes hire expensive IT contractors that result in over extending IT budges. A managed services agreement supports bundling of essential IT services that supports cost certainty and economical monthly costs. The predictable and cost effective budget helps businesses understand and forecast IT costs accurately. This allows them to reallocate resources to other areas like customer service, sales and marketing to retain customers or acquire new ones.
5. Automated Upgrade Path
Many companies in cities experience analysis paralysis or simply forget to update or upgrade software or hardware. This makes their systems vulnerable to being hacked because security holes exist for software and hardware that is not up-to-date.
Most businesses don’t have an automated method for software updates and upgrades across the organization. The financial and reputation cost to a business can be very high if customer information is stolen. Some businesses have been forced to sell at lower valuations and even shutdown. Upgrades and updates are typically included in managed services agreements, to ensure a smooth transition and peace of mind for all employees.
The main point to ask regarding outsourcing of some or all of your IT needs is will your business get better results focusing on it does best, such that IT enables that outcome.