When businesses seek help with their technology, many consider simply reaching out to a generic IT company or specialist. But there’s a wide range of available IT services that can provide a more tailored fit for your business, and managed IT services are one of them.
You may or may not have heard of the term “Managed Service Providers” or MSPs, which are professional companies who offer managed IT services. We’ve put together a definitive guide to managed IT services—including what MSPs do, why the managed services model was developed, and what the benefits to using an MSP are—to help you learn more.
History of Managed Services
Prior to outsourced managed IT services, small and medium-sized businesses often faced expensive technology issues because they didn’t have the enterprise-level solutions large businesses had access to. For example, an Internet outage could cause an SMB to lose an entire day’s worth of productivity because they didn’t have a team to quickly restore their network.
The effects of such great IT disruptions caused negative ripples across departments and companies as a whole, leading to major financial stress. SMBs and other smaller organizations needed a better solution to properly manage their technology.
The Problems with Break/Fix IT
With these costly technology issues facing SMBs, the break/fix technology method came into play. Small businesses’ main priority was to continue developing their products and services, not manage their own technology, so break/fix was the solution. That meant that when something broke, they called a technician to fix it instead of putting someone in charge of continual system monitoring and maintenance.
However, SMBs quickly realized the shortcomings of the break/fix model when problems would recur and eventually lead to even greater technology issues that would cause extended periods of downtime. There was no strategy behind break/fix IT solutions. Businesses decided they needed dedicated management experts to oversee their technology infrastructures in a way that would fit their unique companies, the same way large enterprises did.
Cost Issues with Dedicated In-House Teams
While a dedicated IT team and strategy sounded like a great solution, though, it was not a cheap one. Hiring in-house experts proved to be a huge expense—one that not many small businesses could justify. Frustratingly, on the one hand, having a whole IT team would be too expensive, while suffering even a single outage could cost a small business its entire IT budget. Either way, IT was getting too costly to manage effectively.
Managed IT Services Provide an Affordable Solution for SMBs
With gaps still present in the way SMBs managed their technology, IT providers recognized a need they could fill by bundling services and offering them at an affordable monthly rate, and the Managed Service Provider model was born.
IT professionals knew that small and medium-sized businesses were struggling to manage their IT both strategically and at an affordable cost. The MSP model solved both of those issues. It was designed to allow experienced IT professionals to service several businesses, charging them each a flat-rate monthly fee of less than the cost of one salaried employee.
For that flat rate, companies could get a range of IT services depending on their needs. Businesses could pay an MSP to monitor their networks and offer outage fixes or even develop an entire infrastructure. Service Level Agreements accompanied the model, meaning MSPs would be held responsible for fulfilling the services agreed upon within a certain timeframe, helping maintain quality control and avoid costly downtime.
Other services such as cybersecurity, helpdesk, and backup and disaster recovery were later added as regular MSP services. With these customized enterprise-level services, the MSP model allowed businesses of all sizes—not just large organizations—to effectively manage their IT without the expensive price tag.
The Strategy Behind Managed IT Services
With MSPs becoming commonplace, businesses of all sizes and industries could gain control of their files, network, email, and databases. Servers became universal, and most businesses had a sustainable IT infrastructure to manage their technology more efficiently.
Additionally, managed IT services didn’t just revolve around servicing a company’s current technology—they were also designed to help businesses strategize long-term technology solutions. This worked for the MSP model, as providers wanted to build strong relationships with clients and keep them contracted for years, as opposed to break/fix providers who simply responded to individual service calls.
This strategic approach also became critical for SMBs who foresaw scaling and other infrastructure changes in their future. Having a strategy to drive their IT decisions allowed SMBs to map out plans to keep up with the digital curve and compete with even larger businesses for years to come.
The Modern Managed Service Provider
In the past decade, business technology needs have continued to expound beyond what most companies thought possible. Cloud and SaaS solutions have opened up greater possibilities for small businesses to store files in a cost-effective, secure way. Compliance needs have expanded as hacking attempts have increased, meaning businesses have begun to rely on their MSPs to achieve cybersecurity and meet industry governance requirements.
As technology continues to grow, MSPs are preparing their models to service the modern business, including offering solutions such as Microsoft 365 and other automated software. Now, it’s more important than ever for small and medium-sized businesses to make wise decisions regarding their managed IT services so they can position their company for positive technology scalability in the future.
The Managed IT Services Model and Its Benefits
It’s not just companies of the past that had gaps in their IT services—even businesses today with ineffective technology solutions find themselves looking for more robust IT support services.
Fortunately, as mentioned, the MSP model was designed to be an affordable way for businesses large and small to gain access to enterprise-level technology solutions. Some of the primary benefits of managed IT services include the following:
Greater Technology Expertise
MSP companies hire a broad range of IT experts—such as network engineers, web developers, and systems analysts—to ensure several types of technology issues within businesses can be properly serviced. This means companies benefit from a greater scope of technology expertise without having to pay individual specialists.
Access to the Latest IT Advancements
MSPs also often provide staff training to stay up to date with the latest developments in technology so they can offer more efficient solutions for your business. Because of this, they understand the most effective hardware and software solutions to implement in your unique infrastructure, including how to proactively monitor your systems to prevent threats and causes of downtime.
Affordable Technology Solutions
Even though MSPs stay up to date on the latest and greatest, they won’t just recommend a solution because it’s expensive. Because they are being paid a flat monthly rate, MSPs aren’t interested in upselling you on equipment you don’t need.
Instead, they are more motivated to provide solutions that will work long-term so that you see real, quantified results and continue to do business with them. They also typically have partnerships with hardware and software manufacturers and can provide much cheaper equipment rates than other IT providers.
Supplement Your Current IT Staff
With the MSP model, services such as backup and disaster recovery, remote monitoring, and cybersecurity solutions become a core aspect of businesses functioning properly in today’s always-on work environment.
That said, businesses can still maintain an in-house IT staff or specialist that acts as a liaison between the company’s leadership and their MSP. That way, companies can dedicate a professional who oversees project management for greater efficiency while still benefiting from outsourced IT expertise. Companies get to choose exactly what managed IT services they want in a way that makes the most sense for their business.
Solutions Offered with Managed IT Services
As managed IT services have become more and more common, different types of IT solutions have emerged and made it easier for small businesses to get high-level solutions best fit for their business.
Here are some of the main services offered by MSPs that have become critical for modern businesses:
Cybersecurity is one aspect of business IT that simply cannot be ignored in the modern technology landscape. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, has said, “Cyber crime is the greatest threat to every company in the world,” noting that data is “transforming every profession and industry.”
Businesses who are unprepared to defend against hackers and their advanced attempts to infiltrate company networks through ransomware and other attacks will likely suffer insurmountable losses. In fact, in recent years, ransomware has caused 22% of SMBs to immediately cease operations. With such a fate looming over virtually every unprotected company, cybersecurity is a must-have service provided by MSPs.
Compliance and Governance
Compliance with industry standards and regulations as they relate to consumer privacy and other security issues has become mandatory for most businesses. Organizations in the healthcare sector, for example, must follow HIPAA guidelines in order to avoid hefty non-compliance fees and the potentially devastating consequences of data theft.
MSPs assist businesses in becoming compliant in whatever industry they may be in. Whether you’re a law firm, a government organization, or an educational institution, MSPs are trained to specialize in compliance for various sectors to ensure you don’t get into legal trouble.
Virtually every modern company uses some form of cloud computing, whether it be using onsite or offsite servers. Cloud solutions are allowing businesses greater flexibility through remote access to documents as well as increased scalability as you can easily refine your storage needs. Additionally, cloud services have advanced in recent years to ensure maximum security of critical data and files.
MSPs can offer cloud solutions based on your storage and security needs as well as data backup solutions so that you always have accessible copies of your data.
Break/fix providers who offer one-time solutions for technology issues are quickly becoming a thing of the past. As businesses rely more heavily on their IT infrastructures to communicate with each other, customers, and their stakeholders, IT without a clear strategy just isn’t a viable option.
Modern MSPs work as consultants who meet frequently with business leaderships and their IT specialists to map out robust plans that address both current and future IT needs. They discuss scalability, new software rollouts, and other potential upgrades that will help your technology grow alongside your business. Strategy is a critical aspect of any company’s technology infrastructure to stay ahead of the digital curve.
Today’s businesses also need comprehensive communication solutions, especially as remote work has become the norm. Solutions such as VoIP phone services, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft 365 Business Voice have made it possible for businesses to maintain productivity without sacrificing security.
MSPs manage telecommunication services for your company and often offer them at a cheaper price than you get them from the provider themselves. They partner with telecommunication software companies to ensure they can properly integrate them into your existing systems at an affordable rate.
About SpireTech’s Managed IT Services
With decades of experience in offering IT services for businesses, SpireTech has become one of Portland’s most trusted MSPs. We have worked to develop long-standing partnerships with small and large businesses alike and pride ourselves on maintaining strong relationships with our customers so we can offer them the best solutions.
We offer managed IT services to businesses in a wide range of industries, including architecture, accounting, engineering, and law. We work with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations to ensure their data is kept secure and their infrastructure optimized. We are invested in our local community and are happy to serve the many businesses that contribute to the Portland area.
From helpdesk services to network management and cloud solutions, SpireTech is committed to offering top-rated IT support for businesses in Portland. To learn more about our managed IT services, sign up for a free virtual consultation today.