November 19, 2018
In an economic world where it’s nearly impossible to not be connected to technology, it’s important that someone is there to support your business’s tech needs. When it comes to managed service providers (MSPs) there are countless options out there. Some MSPs focus on a specific niche market with a narrow range of services, while others have in-house specialists for various software, 24/7 system monitoring, and data management. Others cover phone lines, security and IOT (think smart buildings), while others consider that someone else’s maintenance. Size matters too. A smaller MSP offers personable service, while a larger MSP might serve all of your needs, but lack that personal touch.
With so many options, finding the perfect fit for your MSP needs can feel like navigating your way through selecting a new health insurance policy – a total headache. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to select the perfect Managed Service Provider (MSP) for your business.
When it comes to tech, it’s best to let the experts handle it. As a business owner, you’ve got far too many fish to fry to be able to worry about everything. Perhaps you’re a growing company and funds are tight because you just purchased an accounting system, sales system and a few other tech bells and whistles to keep your business streamlined.
What happens when that tech fails you? Scrambling to find someone to solve the problem can cost you valuable downtime (and profit). A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is your go-to resource for all of your technology support needs. From startup to fatal errors, an MSP answers the call. Their services range depending on the firm, but MSPs cover everything from
When it comes to MSPs, there’s a wide variety of services available to you. Let’s break down the different types of MSPs and what they can (or can’t) offer you.
This single-person service provider mostly answers calls after there is a problem. Their job is to swoop in and be the hero that fixes the issue and sets the world right again. However, one person can’t possibly be at several places at once, so you’re often left waiting in a queue. The one-person-shop is ideal for those who use minimal technology with their business (think the solopreneur who just needs a laptop with Microsoft Office and a printer).
With three to 10-or-so employees, the boutique MSP has a little more people-power than our single shingle. Typically they have a bit more certification and expertise, meaning they’ll have more tech coverage.
With the boutique MSP, you get more coverage with a personal touch. Often times you’re dealing with the same people. Furthermore, boutique firms have more hands on deck, meaning quicker response times (and less downtime). This results in higher productivity rates and mitigates the risk of profit loss should some tech go haywire. Many of their packages are a bit pricier than the single shingle, but with more expertise as well as more availability, it’ll be worth the extra dollars.
Large firms typically have twenty or more employees and possibly multiple locations. At large firms, you’ll have experts to help serve more mission-critical needs. They are more expensive, but you can often expect coverage for more niche-based technology, broader tech services (ie everything from telephony and phone systems to architectural software), and are easily available. These firms typically have a streamlined way in which they take service requests, making it easier for your employees to get help fast.
These big businesses service specific regions like say, the American Southwest. This regional reach is helpful if you have a business that is spread out over a particular region or have multiple offices. Their processes ensure your help tickets and tech needs are met by the best-qualified person. Niche experts are quick on the draw to help with specific requests and can even contact software providers for you. The bigwig is responsive, but loses that personal touch, much the way a cable provider dispatches a service person to your house.
If your firm has 100 to 200 people, then you can justify one to two in-house IT specialists. However, you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket with this single point of success method. Sure, you can hire the exact expert you need, but what happens if that person is on vacation or sick? Furthermore, catastrophic events might be too much for a single point to handle and you’d have to contact the big guns anyway. It might be worth considering hiring an in-house manager to help be a bridge from your business to your MSP. Also, if you use a lot of specific, niche tech, then having a specialist for your most critical systems is a good idea too.
Step one in identifying your ideal MSP is understanding your firm size. If you own a medium to a large firm where nearly all of your employees use tech, then you might want to consider hiring a boutique or larger MSP. If you’re a small business with a handful of employees and simple technology, then a single shingle may be the way to go. Anytime you have multiple offices or remote workers, you’ll want to make sure your MSP can service everyone.
Beyond the number of people, you’ll also want to consider your range of technology. Are you a warehouse that designs, manufactures and distributes products? Do you need to communicate across several offices seamlessly? These concepts determine the capacity required for your MSP. The point is, your demographics matter, so think about who in your office uses your technology, what technology needs to communicate and how to best suit those needs.
You’re a busy manager or owner. Sure you may know what technology you have, but no one can possibly expect you to fully understand how that technology works together to serve your business, you’ve got people to deal with and business to win. Here and People Driven Solutions, we identify the best options for an MSP after assessing your IT needs. We ask targeted questions to identify your technology landscape. Each company is different and our goal is to determine which MSP will fit your needs, budget, and values.
Alternatively, we examine various MSPs to determine if:
This assessment guarantees that you find the perfect MSP for your IT needs. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to MSPs. Your individual technology landscape gives the blueprint for the right MSP for the job.
After you’ve analyzed your firm’s size and technology needs, the next course of action to determine what mission-critical technology do you rely on. For example, say you run a property management firm. You rely on software like Yardy every day to get stuff done. What happens if Yardy experiences a crash and you can’t take care of your customer’s needs? How much will that cost you per hour? Day? Even week?
That money that you’re now loosing, could have gone towards having an MSP in your back pocket. You may have only suffered minimal losses or none at all. By identifying the individual technology risks of your company you can start to select specific management service providers to keep you covered. Furthermore, a simple cost analysis comparing the cost of downtime to the cost of hiring an MSP will not only help you determine which type of MSP is right for you but also shows the benefits of having a helping hand when it matters most.
Say you run a design firm where all employees rely on niche-based software to be constantly running at optimal rates. If you have 15 employees they may all need immediate access to technical assistance when a software program has a bug or gets bogged down. Understanding how IT issues will flow in and out of your company is crucial in determining the right MSP for you.
Let’s take a design firm for example. Chances are 90 percent of a design firm’s employees are using their design software every day. Someone might need help fixing an ongoing error message, while another employee may be stuck trying to get a specific command to work for their project. Having a large MSP on your side gives your designers instant access to help. Alternatively, you can funnel inquires through a single source if you don’t see your employees needing on-demand help. This option allows you to hire a smaller MSP for your company’s requests.
Here’s a scenario to consider. You are onboarding a few new employees, all with similar start dates as you finally won that huge client. Before you bust out the confetti, who is going to set up your new employees computers, phones, and software? An MSP can provide those services for you, so you don’t have to interrupt your daily business tasks. Beyond the onboarding process, you now have more computers and more tech to take care of, but who is going to manage all of that?
Understanding your growth trends helps you determine when and who you should hire to handle your business’s growing tech needs. Maybe you don’t need an MSP at the moment, because it’s just you, but if you are going to hire employees, then you might want to consider getting an expert on call so you can focus on your business’s growth, not server issues.
People Driven Solutions works with you to identify the complex integration of tech into the daily life of your business. We ask these questions to help connect you with our extensive network of MSPs. Together, we want you to leverage technology to grow and give you the tools to get there.