MANAGED IT SERVICE | 5.5 MIN READ
Some companies may be hesitant to sign with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) when they could just hire in-house IT instead. As an MSP, we know the ways in which some MSP's taint our industry's reputation. Keep reading to learn 4 common misconceptions about Managed Service Providers as well as tips on how to ensure that you sign with the right one.
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In-House IT Is Better
The benefits of in-house IT can leave some companies wondering why they should even consider outsourcing their IT to a Managed Service Provider. While in-house IT has its perks, outsourcing your IT to an MSP can end up being a cheaper yet still secure option.
When you hire an in-house IT department, the costs quickly add up. Each employee you hire costs a full-time salary plus benefits. Additionally, those employees will all require vacation time, which means that when they go on vacation, the burden of protecting your network weighs more heavily on fewer employees.
For the price of one full-time in-house IT employee, you can pay for an entire MSP package that gives you a range of services and an entire team of IT experts dedicated to your account.
Those concerned that outsourcing IT isn't secure need not worry. MSP's can implement a variety of tactics to keep your data secure and your company compliant with data privacy regulations.
Consistent network monitoring, frequent data backups, and regularly scheduled upgrades ensure that your network evolves to stays up-to-date and that data loss is mitigated.
MSP's Don't Work With In-House IT
If your business is set on having some form of in-house IT, you may not see the need to sign with an MSP. After all, why would you need additional external support when you already have an in-house team to monitor and protect your network?
However, the right MSP will be willing to work with your in-house IT to reduce their work burden and increase productivity.
When your in-house IT is constantly bombarded with fielding low-level support requests such as account access issues and troubleshooting assistance, they have less time for business-critical tasks like diligently monitoring your network for cyber threats.
While less diligent network monitoring can decrease productivity within your in-house team, it can also put your network's safety at risk.
Partially outsourcing your network protection frees your in-house IT up for business-critical tasks and keeps your network constantly monitored. This is because an MSP can act as a basic help desk that employees can call into for low-level support.
For companies overwhelmed at the thought of handling a cyber attack themselves, an MSP can assist in thwarting attacks and restoring your network. Consider what part of your in-house's role you could outsource to an MSP, and see how your company would benefit.
MSP's Nickel-and-Dime You
When you decide to outsource your IT to a Managed Service Provider, you may worry that they're going to sneak in a bunch of extra hidden fees. While there are varying pricing models within the MSP industry, one in particular, known as the a la carte model, can lead to many extra fees down the road.
A la carte models let the customer build a managed services package that fits their budget and needs. While on the surface, this plan sounds great as it allows businesses the flexibility to only pay for services of their choosing, it can lead to problems down the road.
For instance, a simple a la carte plan could only include 9-5 network monitoring, email filtering and basic antivirus/anti-malware. This means that an emergency that falls outside normal business hours and requires immediate attention could be billed at a high cost.
On the other hand, if you pick an all-inclusive pricing model, you get all of an MSP's services at a flat monthly rate, which removes the opportunity for many small additional costs down the road.
All the parts in your network are interconnected like a chain. It only takes one unprotected link to break the whole chain, so be wary of packages where you're only paying for certain services.
MSP's Have Poor Customer Service
When you outsource your IT, you may worry that, especially in the event of a crisis, your MSP will have slower response times since they aren't physically located in your office.
However, sometimes an MSP can actually be better equipped to promptly address issues than in-house IT.
In-house staff are constantly bogged down with low-level issues like computer troubleshooting, which means that when a real crisis emerges, they may have too much on their plate or too little staff to swiftly address an emergency.
Additionally, in-house IT logs off at the end of the work day, whereas with an MSP, you can pay for 24/7 support.
An MSP employs a team of staff dedicated to your network. In some cases, they break their team down into tiers so that severe issues can be appropriately elevated to an adequately trained staff member.
Whether an employee has an emergency or non-emergency issue, MSP's use support ticketing systems to ensure that no matter how severe the issue is, an employee can easily submit a support request that will be promptly answered.
To concretely promise and deliver on their quality of customer service, a Managed Service Provider will usually spell out the terms in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLA's are usually included as a section within a contract with an MSP.
They spell out the parameters of their customer service, such as minimum response times for support requests, timeframes in which help desks are open, and how requests that fall outside of business hours will be handled. If you pay for 24/7 support, the terms of this should be specified too.
How to Pick the Right Managed Service Provider
While there are some common misconceptions out there surrounding Managed Service Providers, the truth is that they are a great investment in your business' future and overall well-being. If you decide to shop around for an MSP, keep in mind the following points.
The thought of being charged for every little thing is a source of frustration for many companies. However, by finding the right MSP pricing model, you can avoid this pitfall.
Each MSP has their own way of billing customers. Pricing models can range anywhere from simple break-fix pricing to a la carte to all-inclusive.
To avoid MSP's that will up-charge you frequently, consider all-inclusive pricing models. They're the best at eliminating hidden extra fees and simplifying budgeting by billing in flat and steady rates.
Fast and Reliable Customer Support
Fast and reliable customer support should be the cornerstone of any MSP's philosophy. When searching for the right MSP to sign with, make this a key priority.
Whether you have some simple troubleshooting issues or are experiencing a severe issue like a cyber attack, your MSP should have a simple and efficient customer support system that ensures that help requests are promptly responded to and accurately elevated to the appropriate personnel, depending on the issue's severity.
Customer support typically comes in one of two packages: 9-5 Monday through Friday support, or 24/7 support. If you choose 24/7 support, ensure that your MSP has quick response times outside of business hours, or else you're paying for a service that isn't fully delivering on promises.
Additionally, make sure to ask what level of remote support is available. While having a technician physically visit your company's building can be useful in certain situations, many IT issues can be solved remotely. Remote support also minimizes network downtime by fixing issues without you having to wait for a technician to drive to your office.
Customer support with an MSP usually takes one of two forms: a help desk or a Network Operations Center (NOC). If you want the most efficient and thorough customer support, consider a NOC.
While a help desk can be beneficial for solving issues over the phone, this level of service isn't as tailored as a Network Operations Center, which employs a tiered team of IT professionals from your MSP to assist your business by phone, email, or in person.
By segmenting a NOC into tiers, with a higher tier corresponding to a more urgent issue, tiered centers ensure that crisis situations are dealt with efficiently and swiftly.
Regular Upgrades and Future Planning
While your hardware and software might be brand new when your MSP first installs them, eventually they will become outdated, which can put your network at risk. Ensure that your services contract allows for hardware upgrades as well as automatic software updates as they become available.
Letting your MSP handle software upgrades also takes the burden of remembering to install these updates off of employees, which saves you time. Be wary of MSP's that aren't vigilant about automatically updating your software as new versions emerge.
Along with automatically updating software and installing new hardware, your managed service provider should also proactively monitor your cyber security infrastructure for security flaws and patch any that arise.
Is your business planning on expanding or moving locations? Even if you aren't, imagine the planning that goes into an expansion or move. While you would probably consider factors such as the cost of these situations, you might not consider how to plan for your network to grow or move with you.
When shopping for an MSP, see if they have the ability to strategize and implement, from an IT perspective, a major business development like a move or growth.
At SOS, we fully understand why some common misconceptions surrounding MSP's exist. As an MSP, we value transparency, which is why we hope this article fully addresses our audience's questions and concerns.
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Posted by Erica Kastner
Erica Kastner is a lead Marketing Specialist at Standard Office Systems as well as a University of Georgia graduate. She aims to use her passion for problem-solving to help businesses understand how to better leverage their network infrastructure.