Would working with a managed service provider benefit your business?
A lot of businesses are now choosing to outsource their IT support needs to Managed Service Providers. Just because you run a business does not automatically mean you are – or need to be, an expert in IT, but your whole business will often live or die by the IT infrastructure in place.
When it works, then that’s great, but what about when it doesn’t? Well you can spend the time and money recruiting, training and managing a full in-house IT department for when things go wrong.
Or could you rely on your own IT knowledge to get you through? Or what about using non-IT staff to fix IT problems as they occur?
These are all options available to businesses but here we will look at whether or not outsourcing your IT requirements to a third party would benefit your business.
The Importance of IT to your Business
When looking at whether or not Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are right for your business it is important to know exactly how important IT actually is to your business – you could be more reliant on it that you actually realise.
From simple tasks like sending to emails to the control of machinery and payment processing almost all businesses are heavily reliant on IT. It could mean you having to turn away customer enquiries or even customer payments – and so it absolutely vital that IT support is there when you need it to minimise any losses any downtime may cause
The question that you need to ask yourself as a business is whether IT should be handled in-house or whether to employ the services of an MSP. It is an important choice that you need to get right, because getting wrong can be very costly – but if you are not an IT expert yourself, how do you know what is best?
Should you build an In-house team?
Your business cannot function without IT but why hand it over to an MSO if you could build an in-house IT team to take care of it? Of course, there are pro’s and con’s to both outsourcing and building an in-house team and it is vital you get it right first time – but what factors should you take into account when deciding?
Recruiting good IT staff is potentially a lot harder than recruiting the staff for the core of your business. You are likely to be an expert in the field in which your business operates, and so you can easily identify and recruit the best people for your team – but that doesn’t make you an IT expert.
When recruiting you need to be able identify potential staff members with the right level of expertise for your business – a difficult task when you don’t necessarily have the necessary expertise yourself to make that decision.
It is not only the question of experience that is a problem when recruiting – it is also a very resource intensive process, not just in terms of money but also time, both of which are at a premium when starting a business and need to be directed towards the core business as much as possible.
If you choose to work with an MSP rather than recruit an in-house team then you cut out this process completely and can direct more of your resources into the business itself and the MSP will make sure that the right team is available for your business straight away
Training and Accreditation
It is not only the recruitment of an in-house team that is expensive, IT teams have their own specific training and accreditation needs as well.
Any changes that need to be made to the business – and subsequently to the IT network could mean new qualifications are needed which can not only cost you a lot financially but also in lost time when members of your team are away gaining the qualifications needed, and so are not available to do the job you employ them to do
Once they are qualified – at the expense of your company – then staff retention becomes an issue. You have invested large amounts of time and money in each member of the team, and with their new qualifications are suddenly more attractive to competitors who would like them in their IT team, and so if you lose a member of staff the whole expensive process starts again.
With an MSP all of this sort of thing is taken care of themselves – all you know is that someone will be there who is qualified to do the job as part of the agreement you have with your MSP, which is what we will come on to next
Level of Service
When you employ the services of an MSP, the relationship between them and your company is based on a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which is a formal document that lays out the services that will be provided to you by them and the cost of the services to the business. An MSP will almost always tailor the service to your business as there is rarely an ‘off the shelf’ package available to suit your business.
The importance of an SLA cannot be understated – it is your guarantee from your MSP that you will be looked after to a certain level. With an in-house team there are no guarantees – it is all on you, and the team you have put together, which is why many business owners prefer the peace of mind that the SLA gives them.
With an MSP there are no sick days, no staffing issues and by using specialist software and monitoring tools they can often make maintain your IT network 24 hours a day
Predictable IT costs
Most businesses – especially new start-ups – are running on a tight budget and cashflow is very important to them. The SLA doesn’t only allow you to know exactly what level of service your company will get, but it also allows you to know what your IT costs are going to be going forward month on month.
If the idea of having all your IT costs packaged into one predictable monthly payment is appealing, then an MSP would probably suit your business – it could save you from having nasty surprises in the future which as a start up you can ill afford