computer-1550275So what, exactly, does “Managed Services” mean? What is a “Managed Services Provider”?

 A quick search on the ol’ Google for “Managed Services,” and you’ll promptly find an entry on Wikipedia that explains it thusly (that may be the first time I’ve ever typed the word “thusly.” Today is a good day!):

Managed services are the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities and functions as a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. 

Further down the Wikipedia page, you can see all you need to know about what a Managed Services Provider does:

A managed services provider (MSP) is most often an information technology (IT) services provider that manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to its clients either proactively or as the MSP (not the client) determines that services are needed. 

That’s it. This blog is over. Move along. If there’s any website out there that’s more factual than Wikipedia, I’d like to know what it is! Okay…okay…I know you can see that there is a lot more writing below this, so you know that I’m just pulling your leg. The blog is not over. Those two little paragraphs from Wikipedia don’t really give you all you need to know about Managed Services and Managed Services Providers. Luckily for you, I’m here to elaborate. You can thank me later.

Right out of the gate, Wikipedia does provide some good info. Using a Managed Services Provider (or “MSP,” for those in the know, and since you are now one of “those in the know,” moving forward, I’ll use “MSP”) absolutely can (and usually does) improve operations and cut expenses.

Ask me “How? “ Oh, “How?” you ask? Let me explain, with the help of Tech II’s CEO, Dan Bardin.

Increased Uptime. Because we’re constantly monitoring a client’s network assets, we’re able to minimize downtime. Any MSP provider worth its weight (I’m not sure what they weigh, but I couldn’t think of a better idiom, so work with me here!) should have an RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool. We do. It’s called iCe III, and it’s pretty handy. Dan explains that as an early adopter, and this area’s first MSP focused on small to medium-sized business, Tech II is on their third RMM engine (engine = core software package). He adds that by investing in a high-quality RMM, Tech II is able to automate many functions that would otherwise require the time and focused attention of a technician. He goes on to say, “As a testament to our maturity and rank, we were recently awarded MSP Partner Elite Status by Solar Winds N-able (https://www.tech-ii.com/3340-2/). This prestigious status is only awarded to the top 5% of Solar Winds MSP partners nationwide.” This one tool allows us to not only constantly monitor your network and all of its assets, but it enables us to remotely address critical events as soon as they arise, ensuring that issues are promptly dealt with, and virtually eliminating the expense of having to send a technician out every time something comes up. Many times, we can see trends within our data and reports that allow us to step in and stop a problem from occurring in the first place. When we do that, you think of us as heroes, and put our pictures up in your cubicle and stuff like that. Frankly, it can get a bit creepy, but we completely understand it, and ultimately, we’re okay with the adulation. Often, in most environments, businesses just accept the reactive mode, “Oops, it’s broken. Time to get to work on fixing it. Hope all goes well!” and skip the proactive approach entirely, Of course, proactive maintenance is a far better way to manage your technology, and, no surprise, is the approach we use here at Tech II. The importance of your MSP discovering that your backups aren’t working correctly, and making the necessary changes to preserve the integrity of your data, prior to experiencing a server crash, can’t be overstated. If, in the event of a disaster, you have the confidence that your MSP will you get you online with minimal downtime, and they come through in that exact fashion, chances are you made a good decision when you selected them. Dan points out, “Mature providers are built to deal with these types of scenarios, and do so week after week. With over 30 years in the business, Tech II has been on point for similar events many times, and our team is able to handle them quickly and efficiently, typically with very little productivity-affecting downtime.”

Improved Performance. Another great benefit of using an MSP is that generally, you will find your systems run better, you work faster, your staff is happier…it’s a win-win (win) situation. Since we’re always monitoring your systems, we always know when there is a systems resource that is not performing where it needs to be. With this knowledge, we’re able to recommend and implement the necessary changes to enhance the performance of the device in question. Whether it’s adding more RAM to a computer, increasing the size of a hard drive, updating 3rd party software, or recommending a new server, systems affecting issues are discovered and dealt with quickly. Without an MSP monitoring your systems, these issues would continue to plague your system, and in some cases, could lead to a crash or downtime of some sort. Nobody wants that!

A Full Team of Experts. When you partner with an MSP, whether it’s to complement your internal IT staff, or to be your sole source of IT management, you get a team of experts on your side, not just an IT person or two. The knowledge base typically present at a respectable MSP is fairly unattainable for a small to medium-sized business. Can you imagine how much it would cost in payroll alone (not to mention software, hardware, ongoing education, etc.) to employ a team of technicians, engineers, and project managers that could handle virtually any and every IT scenario? Well, when you have an MSP on your side, you don’t have to imagine, because you get that team, without the associated cost. Can’t beat that. Of course along those same lines, having a team of experts on your side also allows you and your staff to concentrate on your business, without having to worry about trying to figure out how to install the new printer, or why the secretary’s computer is running so slowly. Far too often, we see people trying to pull double duty. Their title is “Accounts Payable” but they’re also sort of the IT guy, so they get pulled into every little issue relating to the computers or the network, often spending hours researching the issue, because their knowledge in the field is limited. No thanks!

During our recent question-and-answer session, Dan pointed out that understanding the benefits of an MSP is really the stepping-off point for the decision maker, adding, “Once you’ve had that ‘Aha!’ moment, where you not only realize that an MSP is the right fit for your business, but also, understand MSP selection can’t be solely based on whomever has the most aggressive pricing, you need to take the very important next step, which is to make sure that the MSP you are considering is going to meet your business needs.” Adding that “Not all MSPs are created equal.” Dan feels so strongly about a company’s need to vet prospective MSPs, that he recently crafted an internal white paper to address this very issue. After badgering him for a bit, I was able to convince him that we should make a few changes, where applicable, and release the document for everyone’s benefit. It’s that important. So after some editing for the masses, we were able to put together a very comprehensive guide on the subject. The way I see it, whether you’re going to use Tech II or not, or for that matter, whether we’re even in the conversation or not, as an area leader in the industry, it’s our job to put this type of informative guide out there. Dan points out, “Unlike many other professional services, including accounting or law, our industry doesn’t require particular compliance or certifications, in part, because there are just too many. It’s up to the individual to decide what is most appropriate for their particular business or industry. That’s exactly why we decided to share our White Paper (Successfully choosing an IT/MSP Service Provider) – To help with the challenging and often daunting task of selecting an MSP.” To download the document, please visit our resource library. You will need to create an account and login. Don’t sweat it, there’s no charge to create an account, and it only takes a couple of seconds. I promise.

Okay, I’ve gone on long enough. There is certainly more to say on this topic, but let’s face it, you barely made it this far, so I’m going to let you off the hook. Of course, if you would like to discuss this further, and who wouldn’t, or if you would like to find out more about what Tech II has to offer or how we can simplify your technology, you can give us a call or shoot us an email, or just start by visiting our website.

 

  • author Dan BardinPublished on January 22nd, 2016

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