What is a Managed Service Provider?

What does your IT department look like? Is it a computer room full of server racks and cabling? Maybe your network is run from a server that shares an office with one IT employee. If you're just starting out, your company's IT is probably a small operation.

With more people working remotely and consumers increasing their online shopping, your network's reliability becomes a critical part of your business plan. You can no longer wait until a device fails before you replace it.

Any downtime is costly. Depending on the industry and business size, a minute of downtime can cost $5,600.00. When asked, 80% of executives said an hour of downtime cost them about $100,000.

If your infrastructure isn't where it should, consider talking to a managed service provider (MSP). They can get your business on a path to greater resilience for the future.

What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

Managed Service Providers (or MSPs) are businesses that offer third-party support and service of computer technology related to network, application, infrastructure, and security. These services can be provided on-site, remote from the MSP's facility, or through the cloud. The services vary based on the MSP and the service agreement.

What is a Managed Service Agreement?

A service agreement defines the relationship between the MSP and its clients. It stipulates the service model being used. MSPs can help companies build a network from the ground up. They provide monitoring and maintenance for an existing network, or they can manage an entire network. Many MSPs offer customized plans for organizations with specific needs.

In general, a managed service agreement defines the scope of work, identifies what services will be performed, and clarifies expectations. It is designed to give all parties a clear understanding of the relationship. No one likes surprises, especially when they impact operations.

What Does an MSP Do?

MSPs perform many functions. Some Managed Service Providers offer a full range of services such as:

  • Setting up and maintaining networks and infrastructure.
  • Providing cybersecurity services.
  • Delivering support services such as troubleshooting.
  • Managing wireless and mobile devices.
  • Assisting in communication services such as VOIP.
  • Managing software and cloud configurations.
  • Onboarding of employees.

Not every MSP provides all the above services. That's why it's crucial that you work with a provider who has the services you need.

What Makes a Good Managed Service Partner?

A good MSP is not just a provider but a partner. They care about the successful operation of your mission-critical technology. A good MSP knows that their success depends on your success. If an MSP is not interested in learning about your business, they aren't going to be able to make decisions that support your business objectives. With the right MSP, organizations can improve operations, create contingency plans, and avoid downtime.

Improve Operations

MSPs can increase operation efficiencies by minimizing downtime. Careful monitoring of network devices means scheduling downtime for maintenance and repairs after hours. Service agreements with set monthly fees can help manage cash flow, avoiding the need for external funding and added debt.

As companies move towards digital transformation, they need someone with the expertise to help incorporate technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence. With the right partner, your business can be positioned for the next level of performance.

Assist in Planning

Good managed services providers assist in mapping your network. With that baseline, they can help plot your technology needs into the future. Having a plan in place ensures a successful scaling without interruption. You want a company that knows how to grow with you. Someone that stays informed on the latest technologies, so you're never behind the curve.

Disaster recovery should be part of any business planning. A good MSP will provide you with the best options for protecting your business in case of a catastrophic event. That may include a natural disaster, a cyberattack, or a power outage. It's important to have a plan in place before you need it.

Proactive Monitoring

You want a partner that proactively monitors your network. Watching your infrastructure enables an MSP to note potential weaknesses and address them before they cause problems. As part of their monitoring, providers should identify mission-critical devices and essential digital assets to ensure that they are secure and operational.

Customer Service

When looking for an MSP, make sure that their service hours meet your needs. Remember, you may only work eight to five, but your equipment needs to work even when you don't. That's why, it's essential that a provider operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Availability is not the only support requirement. Responsiveness is equally important. When you have a problem, you want a fast response. Make sure you review your service agreement for details on operating hours and response times.

Why an MSP?

The best MSPs are more than vendors; they are partners. They are committed to the success of your organization. Whether you need assistance building infrastructures or guidance on the latest technologies, MSPs have the expertise to deliver the right solutions. Don't confuse other services such as SaaS with MSPs.

SaaS is not a Managed Service

Software as a Service (SaaS) providers are not MSPs. SaaS companies maintain software on their servers that you access through the internet. Instead of having an application reside locally, the software resides on a SaaS server. As a business, you are not responsible for the software or its updates; however, you pay a subscription fee for using the service.

Choosing an MSP

When evaluating an MSP, consider the types of service agreements or plans that are available. Do you need to outsource your IT needs? Do you need help setting up a robust infrastructure for sustained growth? Maybe, you only need periodic checkups. Whatever the need, an MSP is a cost-effective way to manage your IT.

Figuring out all your bases to cover pertaining to your organization’s IT is not an easy process to navigate, especially in times like these— and that’s why Electric is here to support your organization.

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