Kelser's IT Service Offerings & Why Each One Matters
Looking to enhance your IT posture? You might be considering working with a managed services provider (MSP).
If you find the process of comparing managed services providers (MSPs) confusing, you are not alone.
Each MSP seems to offer different services and calls them different things.
While one offers unlimited help or service desk calls, another one charges for calls above and beyond a certain number. One may offer additional fee-based project work in addition to MSP features, another one doesn’t.
It can definitely get confusing!
I’m writing this article to help you make sense of it all.
I work at Kelser Corporation, a managed services provider (MSP). I explain the iT service industry to people like you every day. But before you assume I’m here to sell you something, let me explain: I’m not here to sell you managed services. In fact, at Kelser, we know that managed IT services aren't right for everyone.
Some large organizations have the staff they need to handle their own network care and maintenance. Smaller organizations might not need or be able to afford the services of an MSP.
We get it!
If you’re considering working with an MSP or another IT provider to optimize your IT infrastructure, this article will explain all of the critical elements that we include in our MSP stack. Using the Kelser stack as an example, I'll outline all of the services any IT provider should offer and explain why.
Whether you ultimately decided to work with Kelser, another IT provider, or on your own, this article will provide you with an understanding of the key elements you need to protect and optimize your IT infrastructure.
What Is An MSP?
Before we get into the specific elements of a comprehensive MSP plan (offered by Kelser or another service provider), it’s important to know what an MSP does.
An MSP is an extension of your organization that supports your IT infrastructure.
Whether your business is small or large, many IT departments rely on external support, whether from a break/fix provider, an MSP, or another outsourced IT provider.
With an MSP, you pay a monthly fee and get the services of a forward-looking team of IT experts without the cost burden of having them on staff.
Your MSP team looks out for the best interest of your infrastructure not only for today but with an eye toward the future to eliminate surprises and ensure that your IT network is ready to support your business in the years to come.
When it comes to managed services, the goal is to ensure that your IT infrastructure is secure, efficient, and available while minimizing the risk of downtime.
What “Must-Haves” Does Kelser Include In Its Managed IT Services Bundle?
Every MSP puts together a process and bundle (or “stack” or “package”) of best-practice software offerings to efficiently meet the needs of their customers.
While the specific solutions and software are important, it’s even more critical that an MSP provides each item to ensure the safety and optimal performance of your IT infrastructure.
In this article, I’ll focus on the services Kelser provides, but any MSP should offer a similar comprehensive service plan to its customers.
No matter which specific tools an MSP uses, all managed IT bundles should include:
1. Proactive Approach
When you hire someone to look after your IT infrastructure, you are investing in keeping your network safe and available. You want an MSP partner that follows the latest advances in IT and proactively implements improvements to your network.
It’s not enough for an MSP to fix things when they break. In today’s fast-paced economy, no business can afford downtime.
Kelser partners with your organization and works with you to anticipate and plan for your IT needs, delivering success for your business. Regular reviews, site visits, and technology tweaks are part of Kelser’s formula for minimizing downtime and ensuring that your equipment operates optimally at all times.
2. Cybersecurity Oversight
Cybercrime is growing and the security landscape changes very quickly. As new threats emerge, it’s important to have good quality cybersecurity experts looking after your IT environment.
Kelser has a talented, knowledgeable cybersecurity staff that develops layers of security support systems to keep your IT running safely and efficiently.
3. Strategic Advising
Every MSP should provide access to IT experts that can provide your organization with strategic technology advice.
At a minimum, an MSP should offer chief information officer (CIO) level support. The advantage is that customers benefit from the broad industry knowledge that a CIO offers without absorbing the full cost burden of adding this person to their organization’s full-time staff.
At Kelser, we have technical experts on staff who act as virtual vCIOs for our customers. vCIOs bring a strategic approach to your IT infrastructure. They provide advice about how IT tools and investments can best support your short- and long-term goals and objectives.
Kelser also offers technical alignment managers and service delivery managers to provide exceptional support and service to customers. People in these roles serve as experts on your infrastructure and resource facilitators, respectively. These experts ensure that issues are resolved quickly and precisely the first time.
4. End-User Support
Make sure the MSP or other IT service provider offers robust support for your users. Many MSPs outsource their support function, which can lead to gaps in service due to time-zone restrictions, and communication issues.
Kelser offers local, responsive support to meet customer needs quickly and efficiently. We have the capacity to pull in experts on the first call, making it possible to resolve many customer issues during an initial service call.
No matter which IT support provider you select, be sure your users are covered and that there are no barriers to support.
5. Monitoring, Software Patching, Updating & Management
Kelser proactively monitors, patches, and updates your software, keeping your technology up-to-date, and leaving you free to focus on other elements of your business.
Any MSP should offer expertise for your IT infrastructure.
MSPs monitor, manage and remediate issues related to laptops, desktops, and mobile devices. At Kelser, this includes email, anti-virus, anti-malware, automated patching, and remote monitoring.
Issues may be raised by a customer call to the help (service) desk, but Kelser and other effective MSPs proactively seek out opportunities to address issues before customers are even aware that they exist.
Kelser monitors firewalls, switches, and access points to identify issues, apply patches, and keep your network running securely at peak performance.
Automated patching and remote monitoring/management (RMM) are key elements of your server infrastructure.
Kelser monitors, manages, and remediates issues related to physical (and virtual) servers, proactively responding to issues that arise through routine monitoring or via customer alerts.
These issues may include trouble with the operating system; remediation of server hardware failures and viruses; and management of anti-virus and anti-malware tools.
6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery
MSP partnerships allow business owners and IT professionals to rest easy knowing their systems are backed up regularly.
A solid backup and recovery platform is the best way to keep your information safe, preventing loss and downtime in the event of a cyber attack.
By accessing backup information, MSPs quickly restore business capability. Business continuity services range from local disk-based or cloud-based backup to disaster recovery.
Kelser regularly audits your backups to make sure that everything is working as it should. If a security event occurs, we can restore your business capability quickly.
What “Nice-To-Have” Items Does Kelser Include In Its IT Managed Services Bundle?
In addition to the “must-have” items, Kelser offers other items as part of its stack (which may or may not be offered by other MSPs) including:
Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training
According to published reports, 88-95 percent of breaches come from user errors. Regular cybersecurity awareness training for employees has a direct impact and can significantly reduce the likelihood of a breach.
Since cyber threats are constantly evolving, Kelser believes that regularly scheduled employee cybersecurity training provides a fresh approach to addressing current and emerging threats.
Kelser stays ahead of the latest tactics and provides ongoing cybersecurity training for your first line of defense: your employees.
Kelser also has a bench of experts on staff that can plan, manage and deliver project solutions for customers. While these services aren’t included in a monthly MSP fee, customers can benefit from having one-stop shopping for all of their IT needs.
In the same way that working with a local mechanic or dealership may provide a sense of security, it’s beneficial to have a relationship with an IT provider that you trust to have your best interests at heart and to do the job right the first time.
In the past decade, telephone services have become increasingly technical to the point where the responsibility now often lies with the IT organization. Kelser and some other MSPs offer assistance with new phone systems by providing options and demonstrations, thereby streamlining the process for customers.
How To Get The Right IT Managed Services Bundle For You
Kelser, like other MSPs, decides which specific solutions to offer in its bundle by staying abreast of the latest offerings and selecting those it sees as best practices. These individual elements form the backbone of its process to provide a reliable, safe, and efficient network for customers.
Some MSPs allow customers to select elements of their package as a la carte items.
At Kelser, each of the elements in our bundle works together to minimize customer risk and enable quick response in the event of an incident. We offer these elements as one comprehensive bundle to ensure our customers are protected to the fullest extent possible.
You may not need access to an MSP’s team of IT experts every day. But, just as you wouldn’t want your primary care physician removing your appendix, it’s great to have IT experts on your team when unexpected things crop up.
If you decide to work with an MSP, make sure your team approaches things proactively and offers cybersecurity, strategic advice, end-user support, monitoring/management, and business continuity/disaster recovery capability.
When evaluating potential MSP partners, keep in mind the services you need that we’ve outlined in this article and identify the extras that you’d like your MSP to provide. Whether those services include employee cybersecurity awareness training, project capability, or phone services. There are a lot of options, so make sure you ask the right questions.
The real variables with MSPs are the services they provide in their bundle, which tools they use to provide the services, and how much they charge.
Wondering how much it will cost your organization to leverage the extensive expertise available through an MSP? Read this article: How Much Does Managed IT Cost? What’s Included?
Or, if you’d like to know specifically how Kelser can help your organization, fill out this form and one of our knowledgeable experts will contact you.