How do you feel when the subject of IT comes up in a meeting?
Is it a topic that inspires excitement and conversations about what’s possible? Or, does it generally involve a cost or problem that your business could do without?
If it’s the former, you’re in the minority. In fact, when asked, around 80% of business decision makers considered internal IT issues to be something that stops their business driving forward.
So, what’s the answer?
For an increasing number of companies, packaging IT up and outsourcing it to an external managed service provider is the way to go – but what is it that’s taking so many people down this path?
Here, we’ll consider the merits of using a managed service provider (MSP) compared to keeping IT in-house.
A service that is shaped around you
Working with an MSP might feel like you’re handing control of your IT systems over to someone else – but in actual fact, the relationship between client and service provider is based entirely around your needs – and it’s formally outlined as such.
An important part of working together with an MSP is creating a service level agreement. That document will go into sufficient detail to make sure you get exactly what you want from your external IT team – including the level of support you’ll need, how you’ll access support, the kind of additional services included, the hours through which your support will run – and so on.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to IT – so you’re highly unlikely to find an MSP who just offers silver, gold and platinum style ‘packages’. Again, there’s a bit of a time investment involved with working out what’s needed – but since MSPs do this kind of thing frequently, they’ll be able to guide the way.
Having the right service level agreement in place means you’re paying for what you need – and nothing more – allowing you to channel your money where you need it the most, without cutting IT corners.
No big setup costs
Whether you’re a startup that feels an IT department is essential – or you’re a growing business who feels the time is right to dedicate more resources to keeping your internal IT running – there’s likely to be a big cost involved with getting that plan in action.
Before you’ve found your team, you’ll need to recruit it – and that process is likely to costs thousands (or even tens of thousands if you factor in the time invested by management). When you’ve got a team together, you need to consider training costs too – which are likely to be a constant drain on your budget.
Of course, there’s time involved with finding the right managed service provider – but significantly less than recruiting a team.
Given that a managed service provider will be growing their business by coming on board with you, you’ll find they’re likely to do everything possible to get in front of your decision makers – and you’re going to have plenty of them knocking on your door when you make it known you’re in the marketplace.
When you bring the right MSP onboard, you immediately unlock a huge amount of experience – and all it’s cost you is your first month’s fee…
IT doesn’t sleep
Although it’s something that will certainly be covered by the SLA we’ve already talked about – it’s worth considering quite how much money you’ll save using an MSP if you’re a company who needs IT systems to be working 24/7.
If your IT won’t sleep – then potential issues won’t sleep either – which, unfortunately for your wages budget, means you’re going to need a team who can, at the very least, monitor what’s happening with your system through the night.
An MSP is almost certainly fully geared up for this already. In fact, the chances are, they’re already working through the night for other companies – so you may find that it’s not something that massively impacts the cost associated with the level of service you require.
After you’ve talked to some MSPs, it’s worth considering how much their ‘through the night’ support adds, in terms of cost – before comparing that to the cost of having employees on-call or on-site.
Constant access to best practice
IT never stops evolving. What was cutting edge 5 years ago is now available to startups – probably for a bitesize monthly payment, so, in an ever-changing field – what happens when you bring an in-house team on-board?
The reality is that you often take them out of the game. While their experience doesn’t quite hit a standstill, it’s certainly going to be more focused on your systems and your area of IT.
While this isn’t necessarily something to be wildly afraid of, it certainly limits what your team can bring to the table further down the line. When you’re looking at bringing innovative tech onboard, who do you turn to? Your in-house team might have some theoretical knowledge – but there’s no replacement for getting hands on and making things work in the world of IT.
An MSP is working with a large number of clients, across a number of industries. When you need innovation or ‘out of the box’ ideas – you can guarantee that they’re going to be able to step up to the plate.
A proactive approach
Some of the best MSPs have the length and breadth of knowledge and systems required to have some foresight when it comes to your systems – and, in particular, what’s likely to go wrong with them.
It’s not fair to say that this something that’s only possible with an external team – as performance monitoring internally is likely to spot problems before they happen too – but from a cost point of view, you’re likely to get more ‘bang for your buck’ from an MSP.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you need someone sitting on top of your network to see what’s going on with it – an MSP who’s helped you to get up and running with an SD WAN system is going to be able to keep tabs on the overall performance of your network from anywhere in the world – and, just as easily, adjust some of the settings and moving parts to make sure everything is running at optimal levels all the time.
From your point of view, this means that you’re never walking in to your office to find that your systems are down – instead, you’re likely to be walking into your office to find an email that outlines a potential threat – and what’s been done to stop it happening.
When you consider how much downtime can cost a business – that’s a big feather in the cap of your MSP – and will almost certainly help you drive your business forward in the most optimal way…