Every business is different, from the number of employees on staff and devices in use to the long-term goals and aspirations of the owners. That’s why a managed service provider can’t simply advertise a flat fee on their website. It’s not one size fits all. And things always change.
You’ve likely heard the term “managed service provider” or “MSP” before. Maybe you’re currently working with an IT firm and have heard MSP floated as an alternative. Perhaps you’re searching for IT and technology support or maybe you use an MSP now but frankly have no idea exactly what they do for you. So, you’ve asked yourself, “what does a managed service provider or MSP actually do?” This is a question we get every day, from our friends, relatives, and even potential clients. Here’s the answer they usually expect – it’s complicated. Here’s the truth – it doesn’t have to be.
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Technology is central to your business. You may not associate your business with having an “IT” department or “IT” needs but your technology would disagree. The desktops, laptops, mobile devices, machines on the line, network modem, router, switch, and more all need to be kept running so your business can keep running. I'd bet this scenario isn't unfamiliar: you or one of your employees is typing away at a spreadsheet or invoice when suddenly the screen freezes up. No input received from the mouse or keyboard. You perform or hear that familiar sound of someone doing the mouse slam equivalent of hitting the side of an old TV set. Finally, the screen goes blank and the system goes offline for the foreseeable future.
You’ve probably seen or heard the term “managed service provider” or “MSP” in conversations or articles. “Isn’t that just a techie way of saying IT firm or IT consultant?”, you may have asked yourself. I hate to say it, but the short answer is “kind of”. Some companies will use the terms, “managed service provider”, “MSP”, “IT firm”, and “IT consultant” interchangeably. I get that it can be confusing especially because each of those terms has a different set of expectations that comes along with them.
As businesses continue to struggle with the economic fallout of COVID-19, many leaders are looking for ways to reduce costs, including technology. When implemented strategically, technology is a business enabler—an investment, not an expense. However, it’s always good to eliminate inefficiencies or redundancies in the IT department whenever possible. I recently had the chance to contribute to a TechRepublic article called “CIOs: 8 ways to trim IT budgets”. My tip, which focuses on telecom costs, is number 6. Below is more detail on how companies can potentially find savings in the IT budget.
As I’ve been working remotely for the past several weeks, I started thinking about all the different software that’s replaced our typical office interactions. The conference room has been replaced by video conferencing software like Zoom. Popping over the cubicle wall to talk has now become instant messaging like Slack. Email and phone are basically the same – especially if you have a soft phone or VoIP capability. File sharing and collaboration is also, depending on what you had setup previously, mostly the same with software like Dropbox or your traditional file servers accessed through a VPN. But what all this software doesn’t replace is the platform to have all these interactions happen and interact with one another. Previously that was the office itself.
Over time, you’ve noticed some of the classic signs that you need extra help with your organization’s IT function: You’re struggling to hire someone with the skills or expertise you require for a particular job. As employees fight to resolve the most critical IT problems, your routine low-level maintenance activities are falling by the wayside. There’s limited bandwidth to work on long-term strategic projects that can bring more value to your business.
The MetroHartford Alliance’s “Pulse of the Region” radio show recently dedicated an episode to the IT collaboration between Kelser Corporation and Hoffman Auto Group. The conversation is a great example of a premier Connecticut company taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity and technology infrastructure through a partnership with Kelser.