Key factors to help decide what’s best for your business
IT downtime can completely derail a small to medium-sized business (SMB).
Yet understandably, SMBs face obvious budget and time constraints that make it difficult to avoid downtime in the first place. Without a proactive and comprehensive IT approach, the result is frequent outages and business-breaking IT nightmares that crop up at the worst possible time.
On the other hand, external IT service providers deliver the technical expertise small businesses need at a much lower cost (and much faster) than in-house IT staff.
They can recommend, install, and manage technology according to business’ objectives and core competencies and ensure that critical data is safe – all with minimized downtime and maximised business continuity.
That’s why in the US, nearly 70% of small to medium-sized businesses work with an IT service provider for some or all of their IT needs.
There are many considerations for SMBs thinking about moving their IT to another company. In this guide, we’ve summed up the key factors to help you decide what’s best for your business.
Introducing The MSP – Your Outsourced IT Department on Steroids
What is an MSP?
An MSP, or managed service provider, is a professional IT services company to which SMBs outsource their IT needs.
MSPs are the guardians of business IT, delivering end-to-end, fully managed services and support across the entire application and IT infrastructure, from data backups to cybersecurity and from network maintenance to IT consulting.
MSPs mostly operate through remote monitoring services, which allows them to keep tabs on the health of their clients’ IT environments, change and update systems, and troubleshoot problems across any connected device company-wide.
And because small businesses outsource IT to ensure all their systems, operations and networks remain up and running, MSPs take a proactive approach.
Rather than waiting for something to break or shut down, MSPs ensure a customer’s IT can avoid most tech issues in the first place. This is huge because IT related downtime can have a devastating impact on revenue and reputation—especially for smaller businesses trying to grow.
Are MSPs a Popular Choice for Small Business?
A survey by the B2B research firm Clutch showed that 69% of SMBs use at least one external IT service provider, regardless of company size.
63% of respondents indicated they also have dedicated, in-house IT staff. However, this percentage was much lower among SMBs with 10 or fewer employees—only 31% of that group have in-house IT staff.
MSPs typically deliver services on a subscription basis; companies pay a fixed amount, usually monthly, for a specific set of IT services.
Some common examples include, but are not limited to:
- Infrastructure monitoring and management
- Data storage, backup, and disaster recovery
- Helpdesk support
- Strategic consulting and forecasting
- Vendor management
- Email management
- Remote work support
These are typically offered either as packaged services, or à la carte, depending on the needs of the SMB. They are also often priced at a fraction of the cost of a full time IT resource. MSPs work with a variety of technology vendors to deliver these services, as no two businesses are alike.
However, it’s not just about the specific technology offering. Rather, the expertise and experience of the MSP holds the most value for SMBs.
Five Reasons Why SMBs Outsource IT
Moving all or some IT tasks to an MSP allows businesses to focus on their core competencies instead of day-to-day IT management. This is especially important for SMBs since they are frequently stretched thin from a personnel and budget standpoint.
Obviously, the specific reasons depend on the unique needs of the organization. For example, the IT needs of a 20-person company with no in-house IT staff will be quite different from those of a 250-person SMB with a dedicated IT department.
But generally speaking, businesses adopt managed IT services to improve upon all or some aspect of their IT strategy or infrastructure. The business benefits of working with an MSP translate to improved employee productivity, minimized disruption and downtime, cost efficiency, and ultimately, business growth.
How this occurs will largely depend on the in-house IT expertise of a given business.
(1) Efficiency & Reliability
According to IT industry trade association CompTIA, the top reason SMBs adopt managed services today is to “improve efficiency/reliability of IT operations.”
But context is important. For a very small business, “improve efficiency/reliability of IT operations” might mean implementing and managing the IT infrastructure. At the other end of the spectrum, it might mean outsourcing some routine tasks so in-house staff can focus on higher-level technical challenges.
Whilst 31% of respondents said that they opted to work with a service provider to “free IT staff to work on strategic projects.” MSPs can provide different levels of support to meet the technology requirements of different businesses.
(2) Niche Expertise
Many businesses choose to work with IT providers because they have expertise in a specific area of IT. For example, 38% of respondents in CompTIA’s survey said that they adopted managed services for “enhanced security/compliance.”
This is likely due to the fact that a myriad of cybersecurity attacks are constantly in the news, but it highlights the fact that MSPs have deep technical knowledge and practical experience in specific disciplines of IT.
Also, the ongoing monitoring and software management MSPs provide is particularly important, because keeping software patched and up to date is essential to protect against security breaches.
(3) Save on Time, Risk & Complexity
Working with an IT provider allows businesses to offload tasks that are difficult and/or time-consuming. That’s one of the reasons that managed data protection services are so popular today.
Protecting company data through backup and restore has long been a pain point for companies of all sizes. MSPs can ensure the SMB’s company data is fully protected from malicious or inadvertent actions, reducing business risk by putting complex tasks in the hands of experts.
(4) Cost Efficiency
Depending on the company, cost savings may also be a factor— especially among smaller SMBs with straightforward IT needs. Monthly fees for managed services will vary depending on services delivered. But managed services are generally more cost-effective than hiring full-time, in-house IT staff for smaller businesses.
That said, cost-saving isn’t the primary driver for managed services adoption among larger companies. According to CompTIA, larger SMBs are more likely to contract with MSPs for strategic reasons. This may involve Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) and high-level consults that provide solutions on how IT can better support and engage corporate goals, business growth, mitigate risks, and roadmap accordingly.
(5) IT Strategy & Project Management
MSPs can also initiate new projects and implement new technologies quickly. They have the resources and flexibility to get projects off the ground which might take weeks or months in-house.
Implementing new technology within your existing environment, such as a business VPN, can be complicated, costly, and time-consuming for your staff. Because MSPs work with a wide variety of clients with different IT needs, they are equipped to take on complex IT projects. They also have vast experience troubleshooting the products they use—allowing them to resolve problems quickly and strategically.
The ongoing monitoring that MSPs deliver can help SMBs avoid IT issues, data loss and downtime. If you’ve never considered an IT managed service offering and are trying to manage your own IT, it’s worth being aware of this cost-effective way to have your IT burden lifted.
If you are working with an IT provider on a project basis, it is worth investigating whether they offer managed services as well. Or, if your current IT team is running ragged, perhaps you can offload some difficult IT tasks to those experts who focus on delivering business continuity and reduced downtime.
MSPs can help keep you focused, and keep you safe!
We’re Here to Help
iSite Computers is a South African MSP and managed IT services provider, serving as an outsourced IT department of experienced professionals for small to medium-sized businesses.
Since 2008, we have worked with business owners to maximise their business productivity, minimize disruption, save time and money, and ultimately grow their business.
With reduced IT concerns, you can rely on a stable and future-proof foundation for business success. Get started today with a free, no-obligation consult. Give us a call on 031 812 9650. Or book a free consultation and we’ll call you back.