IT Managed Services
Are you getting true managed services or just break/fix IT maintenance?
Section 1: What are IT Managed Services?
Because technology’s role in business is no longer limited to IT, enterprises now rely on technology for a full range of business enhancements from controlling costs to increasing innovation—all in an effort to gain a strategic advantage.
Managing that technology means building a team of skilled technicians who have the tools needed to maintain and advance the organization’s technology. The sheer financial burden of an in-house IT department can overwhelm many organizations.
That’s why more and more companies are turning to IT Managed Services Providers (IT MSPs) to assess risk, reduce outage time, monitor the system, prevent problems, fix others, and generally save time and money. Managed Services are not the same as having a virtual CIO. A vCIO offers a business-focused quality control mechanism.
Managed Services Providers offer a boots-on-the-ground team that supports your technology needs. Today, businesses contract with MSPs to monitor their technology 24/7/365, to anticipate and prevent problems, and to resolve any issues that arise.
Technology changes rapidly. Many of today’s most common cybersecurity threats didn’t exist five years ago. Plus, new technology is just beginning to disrupt a whole range of industries, and software updates are rolling around more and more often. In spite of this evolution, however, the IT budget often stays pretty fixed.
By taking advantage of managed services, enterprises can hand off IT management to an outsourced firm called a Managed Services Provider (MSP).
Long ago, MSPs started with a “break-fix” model. Essentially, businesses paid a monthly retainer to keep a computer mechanic on standby in case of emergency. This approach resulted in extended downtime, expired antivirus protection, outdated software, and lost opportunity.
Today, businesses contract with MSPs to monitor their technology 24/7/365, to anticipate and prevent problems, and to resolve any issues that arise. Each contract establishes the MSP’s scope of work so it is unique to the business’ individual needs.
By using Managed Services, businesses can refocus their internal resources on strategic initiatives, stay ahead of potential data leaks or downtime, and make use of a sophisticated technology team.
Section 2: Why are Businesses Demanding Managed Services?
Does technology just support your business, or is it driving innovation throughout your entire industry?
IT Managed Services began as a “break-fix” offer, but for large companies, they soon swelled into a full array of benefits. Small and mid-size businesses continued to rely on the crisis intervention approach for many years due to the high costs of a Managed Services Provider (MSP). With the advent of remote monitoring and management tools, however, IT MSPs moved rapidly into the enterprise space.
In fact, CompTIA predicts that by the year 2019, IT managed services will be a $193B industry, having grown at annual rate of 12.5% since 2014. Small and mid-size enterprises are propelling much of that growth.
What factors are driving the
end user managed services decision?
According to CompTIA’s study, businesses made the move to managed services to enjoy:
- Efficient, reliable IT operations. More than 55% of companies with 100+ employees named efficiency and reliability as their primary motivation for making the switch to managed services. A third-party IT partner can provide top-quality, round-the-clock support that few companies could afford to create and maintain in house.
- Enhanced security and compliance. Financial organizations and other companies that do business in a highly regulated environment face enormous risk of losing their legal right to do business should they fail to meet technological compliance standards. Plus, cybersecurity is a major global risk for organizations of all sizes and in all industries. An IT MSP can help prevent data breaches and assure ongoing regulatory compliance.
- Improved uptime through a maintenance model. The old “break-fix” approach did little to enhance uptime since the outsourced firm only came in after a problem had already occurred. Today, a Managed IT Services Provider can identify potential threats and keep a system running with maximum uptime.
- Increased ROI and cost savings. By relying on economies of scale, businesses can cut costs using an IT Managed Services Provider. With no full-time staff to support and access to enhanced services, companies save money. Plus, the IT MSP model opens up cash flow by allowing businesses to make a budget-friendly switch from cap-ex to op-ex and by offering a predictable price.
- Strategic development as IT staff are cut loose from the help desk. Handing off day-to-day IT operations to an outside firm frees the in-house IT team to focus on technology that drives their company’s core business.
- Access to new technologies. More than a quarter of enterprises with fewer than 100 employees said they moved to managed services for access to new technologies. An MSP’s pricing structure lets a single company enjoy up-to-date software that small businesses could never afford to buy for themselves.
Section 3: What IT Functions Are Included in Managed Services Plans?
Does your managed services plan include IT functions that are right for your business?
Managed support can do all kinds of things you might not have known it could. Did you know, for instance, that it can lock down user PCs, keep software current, create a self-service portal based on FAQs, and configure a range of technology services?
An IT Managed Services Provider can also and add a new location. Typical service segments include:
1 Network Administration. An MSP can design, build, and maintain a sustainable network. This process includes assessing the current network, crafting an IT map, acquiring hardware and software, and configuring infrastructure. It also means maintaining that infrastructure with backups, patches, and updates. Finally, network administration can secure the network against disaster, make a business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan, and develop emergency management policies.
2 Application/User Support. Keeping technology functioning smoothly is key to business performance. By using an Managed IT Services Provider, your business no longer relies on a small, homegrown team. Instead, you have an array of world-class experts at your fingertips. Depending on the plan you choose, these people could be working around the clock to keep your business operating.
3 Procurement. Here again, economies of scale work to your advantage. An MSP purchases software, hardware, licenses, renewals, upgrades, and warranties at competitive prices that few stand-alone enterprises could secure. Plus, the outside team has the expertise to install, maintain, and upgrade new products.
4 IT Consulting. Why pay for a full-time employee when you only need part-time support and intermittent IT consultations? Virtual CIO services, a full IT review, a disaster recovery plan, and a cybersecurity assessment can be yours for the asking once they are built into a managed service agreement.
Your contract can stipulate a range of services from developing customized web applications and tailoring C++ software to simple tasks like online backups and hosted servers.
Section 4: How Are Managed Services Purchased?
IT Managed Service Providers start by offering you a free consultation—at least ours is free. Together, you and your IT MSP determine what package is right for your company. For example, do you need a simple, occasional intervention or a full service package?
At Wolf Technology Group, our service array includes computer support and repair, network management, cloud setup and service, remote monitoring, data backup and recovery, and much more. We can design a bespoke package that meets your budget and drives your firm’s technology where it needs to go.
While it’s still possible to get a one-time, quick-fix solution from us, our clients receive a much lower cost per hour with a managed IT plan.
Purchasing IT Managed Services is a simple, personal, relevant, and timely process. Most MSPs—ourselves included—ask you to fill out a brief questionnaire so they can determine if the potential partnership seems viable. If your needs match the MSP’s skills, they’ll send you additional information on their services as well as seek to learn more about your wants, needs, and desires.
If you choose to work with us, and once we’ve accomplished all the steps listed above, we’ll send a personalized proposal to your inbox. If you like we what you see, we’ll sign a contract and start taking care of your IT needs.
Section 5: How to Know if Managed Services are Right for You
Do you need an IT consulting firm, and if so, what can that firm do for your business?
IT rarely generates revenue for any enterprise. It does, however, prevent profit loss, secure information, minimize workflow interruptions, and improve uptime. All good reasons that IT has become a $41.4B global business.
As technological innovation accelerates and cybersecurity risks grow increasingly significant, enterprise-level businesses can struggle to keep up with a small, often underfunded in-house team. When your business is growing, it’s a good time to think about bringing on an IT Managed Services Provider.
Are managed services right for you? Consider these questions:
- Are you experiencing recurring IT problems?
- Is your staff trying to solve their own technology issues?
- Do you wonder what IT positions you need to add to your team?
- Is recruiting and interviewing IT staff becoming a muddle?
If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, you probably need an Managed IT Services Provider.
Once you’ve decided to consider a managed services model, look for reliable and trustworthy IT firm. Reliability is more than simple competence. Does the firm also offer service level agreements (SLAs) stating that they will deliver a minimum standard of service or you don’t have to pay? Do they specialize in the hardware, software, and infrastructure you use? What is their level of experience with your business model?
Remember that an IT MSP is not a salesperson, a full-time employee, or a tech-wizard who can solve any problem with a magic wand. Instead, think of your MSP as a firefighter. This is the team you call to prevent or solve a crisis. It’s the advisor you turn to when considering how and when to upgrade your technology. And it’s the group of teachers who impart the knowledge you need to help your company gain a competitive technological edge.
Before onboarding an MSP, take a look at your budget to see what you can afford. Let your needs and your constraints be your guide as you work together with your MSP to create the plan that’s right for you.
Section 6: What ROI Can You Expect to See After Investing in a Managed Services Plan?
Can your business benefit from an IT MSP without breaking the budget?
Most businesses find that partnering with an IT Managed Services Provider actually costs less than the old break-fix model. In fact, budget-conscious small businesses are driving most of the impressive growth in the MSP industry.
Enterprises that invest in an MSP experience many benefits, including:
Improved cash flow
Access to expertise without hiring a full-time employee
Enhanced levels of service
Section 7: What to Look for in a Managed Services Provider
Contracting with the right IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) can be the secret sauce in your business’ recipe for technological advancement. Not all MSPs are created equal, however, and it’s important to choose one that fits neatly with your company’s needs.
Here’s what to look for when choosing an MSP:
- Depth. Does your prospective MSP have deep experience in your industry? Does it need to? If you work in a highly regulated environment, it’s best to have an experienced MSP who can make sure your technology meets industry standards. Ask about their customer-size sweet spot. Does it match up with who you are?
- Proactive. Is the MSP automating workflows, preventing problems, and managing change? Or does it seem to solve the same problems over and over again?
- Knowledge and processes. By hiring an Managed IT Services Provider, you are onboarding an elite IT team. If the MSP you interview doesn’t demonstrate deep organizational knowledge of the IT systems most relevant to your business, keep looking.
- Flexibility & versatility. You need more than traditional IT support. Even if you don’t need a service now, consider what you might need in the future. Does your MSP candidate provide a full range of services? Does the firm offer contract options that let you choose what you need and leave off what you don’t?
- The right tools. Both the MSP’s helpdesk staff and field technicians should be well equipped to service your business’ needs. At minimum, the helpdesk should have a ticketing system, an RMM tool, and good documentation processes. Field technicians should have a network scanner, antivirus software, hard drive cloning software, and a password reset tool.
- Stability. Will the MSP be there for the long term? You may pay by the month, but you’ll want a relationship that lasts for years to come. Ask about customer retention, financial history, and other growth factors.
- Coverage. Does the MSP offer you an agreement that covers everything? It should spell out the details around security, redundancy, guaranteed uptime, and power. It should also include a section on recovery, backups, and physical security.
- Availability. One benefit an MSP offers is 24/7/365 service. If a prospective MSP can’t provide you with round-the-clock coverage all year long, keep looking.
It’s not only important to select the right plan, but it’s also critical to choose the right company. You should look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with your MSP.
Section 8: Why Choose Wolf Technology Group as Your IT Managed Services Provider?
Choosing to partner with Wolf Technology Group is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Wolf Technology Group is the premier provider of IT as a Service in the Southeast–but don’t just take our word for it, our credentials speak for themselves. It’s our mission to come alongside and partner with our clients, working closely with them to understand the nuances of each client’s industry and deploying solutions that meet those needs.
We understand that business needs are constantly evolving, and that IT solutions will need to change with them. With Wolf TG, you can “grow as you go,” meaning that our plans are customizable and flexible — scaling with you as your business grows.
Check out our case studies to learn more about how Wolf TG has helped businesses like yours reduce expenses, improve IT security, and enhance technology capabilities. To discuss your IT concerns with us and how we can assist you, give us a call at (833) 482-6435 or request a consultation by filling out the form below.