Staying on top of your technology needs is crucial to running your business, but it can be a complex and time consuming undertaking. Purchasing new equipment, updating your software, addressing security concerns — taking on the full responsibility of managing all these tasks without in-depth knowledge or broad technical experience is a real challenge for many small businesses.
Partnering with a managed service provider for outsourced IT support can help you sort out which IT projects are best suited to your business operations. An MSP can also guide you to the IT solutions needed to optimize your equipment and processes.
What Are Managed IT Services?
Managed IT services include all the maintenance, updates and support related to operating your technology. This includes maintaining equipment such as PCs, servers and routers; updating software applications; installing security patches; and resolving support tickets. Essentially, outsourced IT support and services encompass the continual care of your entire infrastructure from hardware to key applications and everything in between.
What Are IT Projects?
IT projects typically are one-off changes or upgrades to your technology hardware. For example, purchasing, delivering and installing new PCs throughout the office is an IT project. Changing over to a new business phone system is another IT project. Unlike the ongoing outsourced IT support that comes with managed IT services, IT projects usually are implemented as needed, typically once a year or every few years.
How Do Managed IT Services and IT Projects Fit Together?
Although IT projects occur separately from regular maintenance and monitoring, they are an integral part of your overall IT solution. Because IT projects come with extra costs to both set up and remain successful, it’s crucial to create a long-term plan to implement and deploy them effectively.
When deciding what changes to make to your IT systems and solutions, an experienced provider of managed IT services can help you evaluate whether a project is a good fit to help you make the most of your network systems. Those changes will often be dictated by the type of business you run, your environment and how you operate. An MSP can help you decide which IT tools you need to support your business goals.
Why You Should Work With an MSP on Your IT Projects
Enlisting outsourced IT support provides many benefits, including much-needed knowledge and experience to supplement that of your IT team. Building a relationship with an MSP means that someone who is already familiar with your systems can offer a broad range of relevant services to help you make the most of them. Once they know how your business works, they can configure your network systems based on your needs and goals.
Working with an MSP also provides insight when budgeting, not only for outsourced IT support but also for IT projects. In fact, more transparent budgeting and planning is a benefit of managed IT services. Outsourced IT support usually is an ongoing monthly or quarterly expense you can easily incorporate into your budget, while projects are typically larger expenditures that require greater planning. MSPs can assist with planning, scheduling and budgeting these so you’re not hit with major costs out of the blue.
An experienced MSP will hold a periodic strategic business review with you at least once a year. This review will evaluate your equipment to determine when it should be upgraded or replaced, examine software applications and warranties and analyze other network components to help pinpoint when upgrades will be necessary. As a result, your provider can help you create a long-term plan to accomplish these tasks with minimal downtime — as well as pay for them without leaving a big dent in your budget.
What to Look Out for When Scouting MSPs
When shopping around for outsourced IT support, dig into the details of the organization you are considering: What are their products and services; where are their clients; do they work with any third-party organizations? Make sure they offer the services and have the experience necessary to handle your entire network. Some MSPs excel at handling one segment of the network, such as servers, switches or firewalls, but they can’t service the entire network sufficiently.
Also, ask how they typically operate with clients. Do they focus on building partnerships for the long term, or do they prefer a consultative approach that’s primarily hands off?
Communication can make or break an MSP partnership. Will you have a constant line of communication with their team? Do you have to track down an account manager to discuss invoices, but talk with an IT manager about project questions? Or does the MSP offer one point of contact for you, who will then designate the ticket to the appropriate associate to resolve it? For more food for thought and ideas for evaluating a new MSP, consider our list of the top 10 questions you should ask a potential IT consultant.
At CoreTech, we value our customers and put their business goals and needs at the forefront of every recommendation we make. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation.