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What is a Managed Service Provider

What is a Managed Service Provider: Navigating the World of Outsourced IT Service

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, the seamless operation of enterprises heavily relies on robust and efficient IT infrastructure. However, managing the complexities of technology systems can often overwhelm organizations, irrespective of their size or industry. In response to this challenge, IT service providers emerge as indispensable allies, offering specialized expertise and comprehensive support to navigate the intricate realm of information technology.

Delving Deeper into IT Service Providers

At its essence, an IT service provider serves as an external partner, delivering a diverse array of technical services tailored to the distinct needs of businesses. Acting as the dedicated IT department for companies, these providers undertake a spectrum of tasks, ranging from routine troubleshooting to strategic technology planning and implementation.

Imagine a scenario where a rapidly expanding company urgently needs to onboard new employees while ensuring seamless integration into existing systems. Here, an IT service provider steps in, orchestrating the process by setting up workstations, configuring software, and ensuring that new hires have immediate access to essential tools and resources from day one.

Beyond the realm of day-to-day operations, IT service providers assume a pivotal role in fortifying businesses against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats and data breaches. With sophisticated cybersecurity risks looming large, organizations rely on these experts to fortify their defenses, implement robust security protocols, monitor network activity, and respond swiftly to potential threats, safeguarding critical assets and maintaining operational integrity.

A Comprehensive Exploration of Managed Services

Central to the arsenal of IT service provision are managed services, offering businesses a comprehensive solution for their diverse IT needs. From round-the-clock helpdesk support to proactive network monitoring and maintenance, managed services alleviate the burden of technology management, enabling organizations to focus on core objectives and strategic initiatives.

Envision a scenario where a company encounters a data loss incident due to hardware failure. With a managed services provider (MSP) in place, the organization benefits from robust backup and disaster recovery solutions, minimizing downtime and preserving vital data assets, thus ensuring continuity of operations and mitigating potential financial losses.

Moreover, managed services extend beyond reactive support to encompass proactive maintenance and optimization of IT infrastructure. Through meticulous system audits, performance monitoring, and timely software updates, MSPs ensure that businesses operate at peak efficiency, while preemptively addressing potential disruptions and vulnerabilities, thereby enhancing productivity and resilience.

Unveiling the Paradigm of Co-Managed IT Services

In recent years, the paradigm of co-managed IT services has gained considerable traction, reflecting a shift towards collaborative partnerships between MSPs and internal IT teams. Unlike traditional managed services, where the provider assumes full responsibility for IT operations, co-managed services foster a symbiotic relationship, enabling organizations to augment their internal IT capabilities with external expertise and resources, while retaining autonomy and control over their IT infrastructure and strategic initiatives.

Imagine a scenario where a company maintains an in-house IT department, entrusted with day-to-day support and maintenance tasks. However, as the organization embarks on ambitious projects such as cloud migrations or cybersecurity assessments, the internal team grapples with limitations in bandwidth and specialized skills. Here, a co-managed IT approach emerges as an ideal solution, enabling the internal team to collaborate with external specialists on a project-by-project basis, leveraging their expertise and resources to achieve strategic objectives and overcome technical challenges.

Distinguishing Between MSPs and Co-Managed IT Providers

While both managed services and co-managed IT services offer invaluable support for businesses, they embody distinct paradigms and operational models. In a traditional managed services arrangement, the provider assumes full responsibility for IT operations, offering a turnkey solution for businesses seeking comprehensive support and oversight.

Conversely, co-managed IT services empower organizations to maintain control and autonomy over their IT infrastructure, while leveraging external expertise and resources to augment internal capabilities and achieve strategic objectives. By fostering collaborative partnerships between MSPs and internal IT teams, co-managed services enable organizations to strike a balance between autonomy and external support, thereby maximizing operational efficiency and agility.

Navigating the Selection Process

Selecting the right IT service provider is a critical decision that can profoundly impact the long-term success and resilience of your business. When evaluating potential partners, consider a myriad of factors, including:

  • Expertise and Specialization: Seek providers with a proven track record in your industry and proficiency in the technologies relevant to your business.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Assess the provider’s ability to scale their services in tandem with your business growth and evolving IT needs.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Prioritize providers that emphasize open communication and foster collaborative relationships with clients, ensuring alignment with strategic objectives and operational requirements.

In conclusion, the realm of IT service providers offers businesses a myriad of opportunities to streamline operations, fortify cybersecurity defenses, and drive innovation. Whether opting for managed services, co-managed IT solutions, or a hybrid approach, organizations can leverage external expertise and resources to navigate the complexities of modern technology with confidence, agility, and clarity, thereby unlocking new realms of possibility and driving sustainable growth and success in the digital age.

Managed IT Services FAQs

What is an IT service provider?

An IT service provider is a third-party IT company that serves businesses and acts as their IT department. They can assist your business IT tasks such as:

  • On-boarding new employees and setting up their technology
  • Managing IT security and network security
  • Providing IT helpdesk support
  • Managing your cloud solutions
  • Assisting in IT projects and migrations
  • And more

Depending on your internal IT resources, a managed service provider can also work with your IT team to help build bandwidth and fill IT gaps (this is called co-managed IT.) The scope at which an IT service provider assists a business is based on the service level agreement you choose. IT providers often offer multiple options based on the needs of each business.

What are examples of what a managed services provider does?

IT providers or managed service providers can help your business with IT tasks such as:

  • On-boarding new employees and setting up their technology
  • Ransomware preparedness
  • Back-up continuity and disaster recovery planning
  • Managing IT security and network security
  • Providing IT helpdesk support
  • Managing your cloud solutions
  • Assisting in IT projects and migrations
  • Migrating your technology
  • Managing your hardware and other devices
  • And more

IT providers can also provide you with Co-Managed IT Services which allows them to team up with your internal IT team to help provide additional bandwidth and to help with specific projects that need special expertise.

What benefits come with using outsourced IT?

Working with an outsourced IT provider allows your business to do several things. Here are a few of the major benefits that come with working with an IT provider.

  • One, you do not have to hire internal IT support. Internal IT support can be very spendy and with the vastly changing technology landscape, many individual IT managers lack the broader experience to help an internal business with ALL their IT needs. Internal IT teams can also come at a large cost with the average IT manager salary starting at $142,687 per year according to Salary.com. An outsource IT provider works around a monthly or annual cost and often scales depending on the size of your business. This means that your IT support costs are predictable and scalable.
  • Two, an MSP can act as your internal IT team helping with all the technological needs you may have and provides you with expertise you need to make better technology decisions. With the support of an entire MSP team, your internal team is not limited to the expertise of one individual, but rather grows as your provider grows. These experts can help you fill out technology questionnaires, migrate your systems, provide consulting assistance when needed, and more.
  • Three, a managed service provider does more than simply fix broken technology. They also assist your leadership team in making IT purchasing decisions and building an IT roadmap designed to support a growing and scaling business.
How does managed IT provider pricing work?

When you start looking for IT support look for: scalable pricing models, flexible contracts (month-to-month,) deep technical experience, a sizeable support staff.

Managed IT providers can choose to price their services in diverse ways. We find that businesses will get more flexibility by finding a provider that bases their fees on the size of the organization. This means that you pay based on the number of users the IT provider is supporting. Beyond that pricing model, you can also look for providers that operate on month-to-month contracts. Not all providers are good fits for your business, and the last thing you want is to be locked into an annual contract with a provider you are not happy with. We have seen this happen and often the businesses are stuck paying for two providers – one they are unhappy with but obligated to, and one that they trust to support them – or sticking with a provider they are unhappy with until that contract expires.

How much should I pay for managed IT services?

It is tough to put a number on how much you should pay for IT support because the type of support you are looking for is such a large determining factor. Proper IT support is not always cheap and looking for the cheapest solution may leave you in a bad spot. When searching for IT support you should always consider the following:

  • How does the company price their services? Are you locked into a lengthy contract? Is the monthly/annual cost based on the size of your business? Be sure you seek flexibility when choosing a new provider. Not all providers are a good fit for your business and because of this you need to maintain the ability to terminate contracts without being locked into a fixed price. We have seen providers offer month-to-month contracts, annual contracts, and in some cases multi-year contracts. Lastly, look for providers that charge per user, so you pay for support based on how large your business is.
  • What services does your contract include? Some providers will surprise you with additional fees and costs for performing services outside of the contract. So, be sure you know what the contract includes and what it does not. Often times you can also adjust the service agreement by speaking with the provider and working on what a basic plan for your business will look like.
  • How large is their support staff and how deep is their technical experience? Not all IT providers are the same. Some providers may just be a single person who will fix your problems as they come up. Some providers hire a series of basic IT support staff but are unable to assist with more complex IT environments. When you are choosing a managed service provider, be sure you understand their expertise levels and the hierarchy of their IT staff. Look for providers with large teams to ensure they will always have the capacity to properly support your business.
What is the difference between an MSP and IT provider?

MSP stands for managed service provider and is a broad term that encompasses businesses that help other businesses with a specific type of service. It is often understood and commonly refers to an IT provider that is hired by a business to help manage their technology specifically. Meanwhile, an IT provider is just that, a provider of IT services. These terms are interchangeable and have similar meanings.

What should I look for in an IT managed service provider?

Managed IT providers can be found via a simple google search, but we recommend asking other business peers as well. Not all IT providers are the same and it can be hard to vet a good provider. While you are engaging in conversations, we also encourage you to ask for customer recommendations and referrals. This is helpful in learning more about how a particular provider supports their clients. If available, also request to see the IT provider’s CSAT (customer satisfaction) score and overall customer ratings.

Who should use a managed service provider?

An IT provider is a good option for professional IT support for many different business scenarios. A managed IT provider is a feasible solution for your business if:

  • You do not have an internal IT manager
  • You would prefer to have an IT team available to support your business without breaking the bank on hiring internally
  • You are a growing business with escalating technology needs
  • You are concerned about your network security and security posture
  • You were the victim of a security breach and are looking to increase your security protocols
  • You plan to scale your business quickly and need the technology expertise to support you
  • You do not feel you have the proper technology currently in place in your organization
  • You find yourself spending a lot of time and money on fixing IT problems within your business

If you are considering bringing in an IT provider to support your business, feel free to reach out to our team. We are happy to share information about our services and help you understand what you should expect to gain in your search.