To ensure existing technology is fit for purpose and new technology is not deployed for the sake of it, businesses often explore managed IT services. In fact, this trend has accelerated at quite a pace: according to an industry report, 83% of UK SMEs use some form of managed IT service. These IT experts can – if deployed effectively – provide the strategic outlook that’s required to harness the power of technology and drive your business forward.
Managed IT Services
Managed IT Services allow businesses to delegate all or part of their IT function to an expert third-party – known as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) – that specialises in handling the day-to-day operation of IT systems and infrastructure, and executing digital transformation projects. They take the time to understand their client’s goals, before working proactively to improve their IT environment. By relieving them of the burden of managing daily IT operations, an MSP can also work in partnership with the client to leverage new technology that facilitates growth.
MSPs either provide a full IT department service for SMEs that have little or no internal technical capabilities (known as IT outsourcing), or support their existing experienced IT team in larger organisations (known as IT co-sourcing) becoming an extension of their business in the process. The extent of their responsibilities is agreed upon and defined in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and might include: email, service desk, Cybersecurity, networking, data storage, cloud integration, backup and restore, and patching.
Types of Managed IT Services
MSPs provide a wide range of managed IT services, which can be tailored to your business’s unique requirements and delivered using either an IT outsourcing or co-sourcing model. These include:
- 24/7 service desk: you realise how much your users rely on IT when it fails or becomes less efficient. MSPs provide round the clock access to IT specialists who can troubleshoot these issues remotely or on-site.
- End-user compute: your businesses must support its IT users and ensure they can access relevant applications, services, and data from any device, from anywhere, around the clock. An MSP can help you to implement an end-user strategy that liberates, empowers, secures, and leverages your people.
- Infrastructure management: infrastructure outages can be damaging to your business, both from a productivity perspective and a functional one. Whether hosted on-site or cloud-based, an MSP can manage your IT systems and applications availability, performance, and health to ensure there are no outages.
- Robotic process automation: an MSP can facilitate performance optimisation through automation in several ways: from increased visibility of managed resources and error-free process execution, to reduced operational expense.
- Service integration and management: MSPs can implement and oversee a strategic process that efficiently manages multiple IT vendors to achieve business goals. This single contact accountability frees you of responsibility for the management of third parties, allowing you to focus on business projects leading to improved efficiency.
Top 10 benefits of Managed IT Services
The benefits of using Managed IT Services are compelling:
- Enhanced user experience
- Enriched workforce productivity
- Cost-efficiency gains
- Predictable monthly costs
- Engenders employee health and well-being
- Enables agility and innovation
- Maximisation of uptime driving business continuity
- Access to newer technologies
- Highly resilient, secure infrastructure
- Increased service levels
How to pick the right MSP
Deciding to seek the services of an MSP to manage some of or all your business’s IT processes and systems is the easy part of your IT strategy; choosing one that aligns with your ambitions and helps you achieve future success is trickier. Pick a partner rather than a supplier and you will be on the path to success. So, where do you start?
- Evaluate cultural compatibility: both parties need to be on the same wavelength culturally. You must possess shared values and beliefs, as this will influence behaviour, expectations, and attitudes
- Review their ability to integrate with your business: try and answer the following questions during the tendering process: Who will be your main point of contact? Are they the right size to meet your requirements? Do they fit your culture? How available are they? Will they invest time and resources to understand your business and its goals? How easy are they to reach when a problem arises?
- Review their credentials and track record: once the contract is signed, and a salesperson is no longer involved, you need to know that the service you have committed to will be delivered. So, ask for references and do research beforehand
- Review their ability to innovate: select an MSP that can help you leverage IT innovation and deliver positive change for your business. This includes their ability to deliver effective technology consulting and challenge your current business practices
- Review their ability to scale: as your business grows, you may need to expand your level of service, which will require additional IT resources. It is therefore vital to partner with an MSP that possesses the agility to scale with your business and service your dynamic needs.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to planning, implementing and managing IT, with each business possessing unique requirements and resources. The key is to devise and execute an IT strategy that’s completely tailored to your business. Whether you need a fully outsourced IT service, or a more à la carte offering that integrates seamlessly with your IT department, a carefully selected MSP can ensure that your IT infrastructure aligns with your goals and development.