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Managing IT is difficult, especially for newer and smaller businesses. You usually manage everything from sales to product development to accounting when starting out. And even if you have a small team around you, you as a business owner may still find yourself working as a generalist, making sure that every t is crossed and i is dotted. And given the time, knowledge, and resources that IT requires, you may leave it on the back burner. Alternatively, you may hire a generalist IT professional and expect them to handle everything, stepping in only when an IT function directly affects a revenue-driving activity you have your hands in.
But IT is often no simpler for older and larger businesses. Often business executives are similarly disengaged from key strategic IT decisions unless there’s a revenue opportunity or a crisis. And often IT departments are not organized optimally. Everybody works as a generalist, so employees aren’t given the time, space, and resources they need to improve productivity, mitigate risk, and drive revenue. And when everyone works as a generalist, you’ll often find that tasks aren’t properly prioritized and delegated. Seventy percent of your staff may be working to fix a downtime issue that could have been avoided if someone had been trained and tasked to perform regular maintenance and updates.
You can benefit from working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) regardless of your business or industry size. An MSP is a local business that works with yours to provide standard IT services ranging from helpdesk management to cybersecurity protection. In fact, given the importance of cybersecurity and the prevalence of cyberattacks, some MSPs solely offer cybersecurity services and are known as Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs). Generally, the level of expertise MSSPs bring to the table few in-house IT departments can match.
When working with an MSP, the keyword is “with.” Many IT professionals are wary of MSPs as they’re afraid that their employer using one means that they may soon be out of a job. However, MSPs often work alongside an IT department, assuming the most time-consuming and routine tasks, such as managing your helpdesk, so that in-house staff has the time to engage in revenue-driving and other higher-level activities.
Moreover, because they work with multiple clients, they have a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to solving technical problems and business problems with IT solutions. Working with an MSP, you’ll often find that a seemingly straightforward application or workflow reconfiguration can save you time and money. Or you may learn that a popular application is precisely the wrong solution for your business. These insights come from working with clients across industries and sectors.
In some cases, MSPs provide services in specialized areas that in-house staff does not have and does not have time to develop. Cybersecurity is a perfect example. Cybercriminals work 24/7 to breach corporate networks. But if you’re relying on a generalist on staff to keep up-to-date with the threat environment, investigate all incidents, and ensure your business’s cybersecurity plan is being followed across departments when 60 to 70 percent of their day is consumed with other duties, you’re in trouble.
MSPs can save businesses from having to hire multiple specialists at premium rates. And while MSPs don’t work for free, it’s less expensive to hire a first-rate MSSP than a team of the best in-house cybersecurity professionals on the market.
Many MSPs employ a follow-the-sun schedule. That means they have teams working in different time zones, allowing them to provide you with 24/7 coverage and support. Working with an MSP may help you offer round-the-clock support to your business. No longer will you need to authorize overtime to your team when a network outage means that second-shift and third-shift work grinds to a halt. Instead, you can contact your MSP contact, inform them of the issue, and have it taken care of as quickly as possible.
MSPs can also help business leaders and IT professionals discover new solutions and capabilities they had not considered. In-house professionals often see new ideas through the prism of organizational constraints. They discard ideas they have or solutions they’ve read about, believing they could never work where they work for several reasons. But MSPs leverage their outsider’s perspective to identify and implement new and creative solutions to longstanding and emerging client challenges.
MSPs can also help achieve cost savings that help them implement solutions they never thought possible. Drawing on extensive supplier networks, many MSPs help businesses obtain hardware and software resources at rates below market, making solutions that once seemed prohibitively expensive now affordable and feasible.
Not only can MSPs and MSSPs help you protect your business from cyberattacks. A reputable provider can also help you safeguard your business against technological, natural, and manmade disasters. A system malfunction resulting in data loss can be catastrophic, primarily if your business does not have properly functioning backups and a data recovery plan. A business without offsite or cloud backups could also fire, construction accident, or another similar calamity could also cripple your operation.
MSPs can help you develop and implement the correct business continuity and backup and disaster recovery plans for your business. When a crisis occurs, the longer you’re down, the more revenue you use. Getting your operations up seamlessly and rapidly can mean the difference between staying in business and closing up shop.
MSPs are a formidable value-add for businesses of all sizes across industries. They help in-house IT staff save the time they need to perform critical revenue-driving and cybersecurity work while expanding the scope of internal support they provide. They can help business leaders avoid bidding wars for coveted specialized talent and high prices for enterprise applications. And they can help a business scale in ways in-house staff hasn’t considered possible or haven’t yet thought of.