Technology is a volatile, ever-changing field, and that has never been more true than today. The advent of cloud computing, SaaS and IaaS delivery models, and the ubiquity of mobile devices mean new challenges daily for IT. This holds true in organizations of every size, from small business to large enterprise.
At SMBs in particular, the flood of new technologies can seem more a curse than a blessing. The burden of training and management is often too much for an already resource-strapped department, taking valuable attention away from mission-critical functions. In these cases, managed IT services are the natural solution.
The IT department at a small or medium-sized business is typically a small team of experts—perhaps even a team of one. Its energy is best spent on developmental or strategic initiatives, and an overload of day-to-day operations can be detrimental, causing wasted time, lost productivity, and burnout.
Managed IT services are an ideal means to prevent these problems from occurring. By outsourcing common tasks and routine maintenance to an expert firm, internal IT can maintain a tight focus on high level concerns. Here are some specific areas where managed IT services can be of particular help.
Maintenance of desktops and servers, as well as both on-site and cloud-based software, are best handled by a dedicated managed IT service provider. This includes reboots, patches, and network performance monitoring, security, and more. Handling these tasks externally offers multiple advantages, including fixed or predictable cost of maintenance and allowing internal IT to give their full attention to strategic concerns.
Managed IT service providers (or MSPs) are organizations built from the ground up for this type of work. They are equipped for advanced remote monitoring, and can keep a steady finger on the pulse of the performance and availability of the network and critical devices. This type of constant monitoring requires technology and dedicated personnel that can be difficult to match by a smaller company’s internal staff.
A managed IT service provider can also function as the level 1 help desk for many small businesses. Routine support issues with desktop PCs or even servers can easily be handled by outsourced personnel.
Generally speaking, the MSP will have more personnel available to dedicate to support than the client’s internal IT department. 24/7 support, even of niche products requiring specialized knowledge, can become fixed costs within a standard service plan.
Even in smaller organizations, routine support can take up a great deal of time and energy. An external partner should offer greater reliability and scalability, able to dynamically allocate more or less staff to your support requirements as needed and without the direct supervision of internal IT.
Cloud and Hosting Services
Cloud-based software solutions exist for file-sharing, collaboration, communication, and a host of other applications and use cases. Cloud computing is of great benefit to organizations of any size, and there is little reason not to take advantage.
However, it can be difficult to parse the incredibly wide array of solutions on the market. Migrating to the cloud begins with selecting the right cloud software, and this process can be daunting.
In particular, SMBs often find themselves with a clear vision of what their cloud software should do, but lack the time, personnel and resources to execute that vision.
Today’s managed IT service providers are cloud computing specialists, and make it their business to stay on top of new and upcoming features for solutions from top vendors. They are expert in selecting the right platform to suit any need and budget.
Internal IT can collaborate with an outsourced provider by providing details of their needs. The provider can then source the right software to meet those needs, and begin the process of migration. The client can safely leave the details planning in the service provider’s hands, moving on to the next strategic concern until their attention is needed again.
Razor-sharp efficiency is of paramount importance to organizations of every size, but perhaps most of all in small business. There is no room in the budget or schedule for wasted time, effort, or resources. Any tasks that can be safely removed from the shoulders of internal IT gives them more freedom and power to execute projects that will truly grow the business. Managed IT services are one path to creating that freedom.