In a crowded industry marketplace, efficiency reigns as one of the last frontiers of competitive success. A company that keeps its momentum is a company that laps its rivals, and that means that unexpected issues and tech problems need to be minimized or eliminated. One way that modern companies are overcoming obstacles is through the use of managed information technology (IT) services: contracted teams that provide a full service experience for everything from hardware to software to proactive monitoring and everyday operations.
These service providers can be used both instead of as well as in conjunction with an in-house IT department, offering businesses maximum flexibility that works with their demands as well as their budget. Not all managed IT services are created equally, however, and businesses of all sizes need to match their solution to their unique set of needs and business goals. If you are wondering “What is the purpose of IT service continuity management?”, your solution may be different than someone who needs the question “What are cloud managed services?” answered.
What Are The Types Of IT Services?
So what is managed IT services, in a nutshell? As noted, managed service providers for IT can assume part or all of the role required to service IT-related needs. When used in a support position, a physical (typically already in place) IT team will take care of day-to-day needs in an office setting, with the managed service provider (MSP) team offering supplemental assistance. In this scenario the IT team might respond to a computer in the office not turning on correctly, while the MSP team may handle remote monitoring of the network to fend off malware, or troubleshooting programs accessed from the cloud to boost cloud computing. This proactive approach to the cybersecurity aspect of technical support such as network monitoring is important to discuss in a service level agreement.
Drilling down further, you’ll discover a variety of sub-specializations within the MSP sphere, with most falling into five main offerings: procurement, data center needs, voice and video collaboration, wireless/mobility services, and data security. Here’s a closer look at the specialty services managed IT solutions can provide your business or organization:
- IT Procurement services secure the hardware a business needs, minimizing disruptions and “mismatches” between an office’s technology pieces. In this capacity, a managed service provider would source, price, and facilitate purchasing of computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other digital devices. As a part of their responsibilities, this niche service would also ensure that a company stays “ahead of the curve” by upgrading their tech hardware in a timely fashion – not when it’s already become unusably slow or outdated.
- Data Center Needs help strengthen, support, and in some cases, entirely rebuild the network a company is built on, with an emphasis on security and efficiency. From shared office drives to the central databases for all digital files, legal paperwork, and more, managed services can help keep a business’ data well-structured and protected.
- Voice and Video Collaboration assistance keeps employees and management connected, whether they’re across the office or across the globe. A vital element in the modern “work-from-home” employment culture, managed service providers help companies leverage browser-based, proprietary, and hybrid video and voice conferencing systems to help employees, managers, clients, contractors, or even a business owner stay reliably visible, audible, and in touch. This is one of the many benefits of managed IT services!
- Wireless and Mobility Services are a must for any company that operates beyond the doors of its office. Whether it’s agents out in the field or a chat with a supplier across the country, managed services keep internal networks of digital devices like smartphones working smoothly and seamlessly. In this niche, managed services would also assist with proprietary devices, such as modified tablets used on job sites to record work, create invoices, or take payments.
- Data Security is arguably one of the most important roles filled by a full-service or support-based managed service provider. In this capacity, a MSP team would monitor a company network for problematic events – e.g., viruses, malware, ransomware, or prohibited file contents – and stop anything harmful from impacting the system. They may also follow up on automatically or manually-triggered reports of malicious hardware usage, theft, and more.
What Is Included In Managed IT Services?
Versatility is a large part of the enduring popularity of managed services as an IT solution for businesses. With most premium managed IT service providers offering several different tiers of pricing and services, companies can select the package that best fits their needs and budget. When deciding what that may look like for your company, consider asking yourself questions like these:
- Do we need support for our existing IT team, or do we want to replace them entirely?
- How comfortable are we with our current usage of cloud based services? Are we looking to increase how many we use, or how much we use them?
- Would we like, or do we need, assistance finding appropriate hardware, such as computers or laptops?
- Is our business mobile and/or remote in nature? Do we or will we use company smartphones?
- If our company grows or changes suddenly, can we count on our current IT approach to adapt?
Once you’ve determined the current state of your business operations and needs to support your business goals, you’re ready to start discussing your situation with a provider, and getting quotes.
Budgeting For Managed IT Services
When considering your business budget for managed IT solution providers, remember that taking the managed approach can prevent a lot of wasteful expenses. A business can save on typical employee costs because a managed services provider does not require employee benefits like health coverage and sick pay. Additionally, because employees work remotely and in the cloud, they don’t need dedicated offices to complete their professional services. This is a common reason for why companies outsource.
MSPs may also have strategic business partnerships that will allow you to save ongoing budget dollars through the sourcing and purchase of discounted hardware during upgrades. This upgrade cost is not often factored in during comparisons between in-house and contractual IT approaches, but it makes a significant difference.
While it’s natural for any bottom line-minded business to scrutinize vendors carefully, ultimately the usefulness and affordability of managed IT services inevitably settle any lingering concerns. In a volatile business climate that changes like the wind, the consistency of paying the same amount each month for IT services can be a huge break for a company planning to grow.