IT can be problematic for small businesses. It’s rarely your company’s core business focus – but it’s an important part of your operation; and one that can take up a huge portion of your budget.
Of course, it’s not just your CAPEX budget that’s hurt by IT – there’s a tremendous ongoing cost, not least the cost of having a person or persons within your company who have the skill and expertise required to keep things moving in the right direction.
Fortunately, managed service providers answer the call of businesses who may not wish to start the recruitment ball rolling when they’re looking for IT support. If the thought or expense of recruiting an IT team doesn’t sit well with you, you might want to think about some of the other benefits that come with outsourcing your IT:
The term ‘uptime’ is the measure of how long refers to your end user’s ability to access the apps and systems that allow them to do their work. 100% uptime is likely to be impossible for most companies – but 99%+ is a realistic target, allowing for maintenance and the odd unforeseen issue.
The thing is, uptime isn’t always guaranteed – and when you’ve got an in-house IT team, you can only really expect them to work within their contracted hours and job role – so if you’re suddenly hit by an IT issue at 5:30pm on a Friday, there’s a good chance that issue will remain until Monday morning.
With a managed service provider, you get to map out your uptime/downtime expectations – and they’ll sign on the dotted line to say that they’ll deliver this. If that means they work through the night – they will – or, if it means they have to bring in more specialist help, they will.
Downtime is a massive issue for small businesses – and it’s estimated that it costs an average of £10,000 per hour if your IT grinds to a halt. If you think that seems high – remember that you’re factoring in wasted staffing hours, missed orders, zero productivity and much more.
If having your IT infrastructure in place when you need it is essential, looking for an experienced IT service provider who can deliver a comprehensive service level agreement could be a good business move.
Best practice solutions
As well as being able to offer guaranteed uptime numbers – an MSP comes with a benefit that a great number of people don’t consider – a wide range of daily experiences.
Taking on an in-house IT somewhat limits their exposure to other business IT solutions, so, an in-house engineer or IT manager might be well versed in what your system and business requirements are, but may not be able to tell you a great deal about what happens outside of their role or past roles responsibilities.
When you work with an MSP, you’re working with an office full of people who are handling complex IT issues every day. Rather than understanding just your business, they can draw on a wide range of business IT knowledge and apply that to what you’re doing.
In reality, this is the difference between a team that understand the theory of an issue – and a team who are likely to have recently rolled their sleeves up and got on with the problem in real-life.
Of course, there’s a place for book learning, but when your IT infrastructure and your on-going ability to trade is at stake, it’s nice to know you’re working with a team who can draw on real experiences when they’re looking for a fix or the best way to deliver a solution.
‘Agility’ and ‘responsiveness’ are two vital words for any business hoping to grow – but traditionally, IT has been the factor that’s put the brakes on growth – simply because adjustments can be so time consuming.
With a good managed network provider, these barriers to growth are removed – and part of the reason stems from cloud-computing.
Cloud-computing allows you to access a vast range of IT infrastructure resources without the need for on-site equipment. If you need a mail server to handle your email system, you would traditionally have needed to buy one, install it, configure it – and go from there. Now, mail servers are increasingly held with email providers – and businesses access the services through their internet connection.
Of course, mail servers are just one example – and there are thousands of others. The point is, twinning this new generation of business internet infrastructure and a good managed service provider is a perfect match. MSPs have access to an incredible range of resources – so if you need to grow, it no longer requires on-site engineers and significant amounts of downtime – and now more often involves your IT support configuring things remotely, before sending an email to tell you you’re up and running.
In business, it pays to have a detailed understand of your costs – but the unpredictability of IT tends to cause financial forecasting headaches.
There’s never a good time to experience issues with your network – but when that’s compounded by the cost of bringing IT consultants in, things can become infinitely more painful.
When you’re working with an MSP, you’ll be able to attribute a set cost to your IT systems maintenance each month. In the rare instance specialists are needed, you MSP will bring them in – all while maintaining your service level agreement, therefore, usually at a set cost.
It’s not just predictability around finances that an MSP will offer however. With an in-house IT team, you’ve got to account for sickness, holidays, leave, resignations, disciplinary issues and much more – and, while you deal with those things, your network could be left without the day-to-day support it needs.
A managed service provider won’t leave – and should there be a problem with their own staffing, they’ll draft other people in to make sure they’re still delivering the service they’ve agreed. Having a predictable monthly outlay and a team that you can rely on can be worth its weight in gold when you’re focusing on delivering a core business model.