Are managed services providers (MSPs) being utilized effectively by small businesses? How are small businesses finding the correct balance between managed services, cloud services and internal IT services?

First, let’s define a couple key terms: managed service provider and small business. According to TechTarget, “A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model.” (TechTarget, Dec., 2015) Generally, the MSP and its client establish a service level agreement and a monthly fee. For the purposes of this blog, we will define a small business as a business with 100 or fewer employees. A business with 100-999 employees is considered to be medium-sized. Greater than 1,000 employees qualifies as an enterprise.

A common phrase in the business world used by service providers is “we let you get to the business of running your business.” In a nutshell, that is how a MSP can benefit a small business. By off-loading many traditional, repetitive in-house IT functions, a small business can free up its IT staff for more ROI-related projects; projects that can significantly grow the business or improve processes. Managed service providers can help SMBs achieve a greater return on investment on their IT costs while allowing existing in-house IT resources to be channeled into more valuable development roles.

Utilizing a managed service provider creates a hybrid approach. That is, keeping some high value IT functions in house, while handing over recurring services such as maintenance, disaster recovery, security and end-user help desk to a managed service provider. And let’s not overlook cloud services. Most businesses are utilizing the cloud already, or they know they need to. A cloud service provider can economically and quickly implement a cloud strategy for small businesses.

The Gartner research group reports that more than 65 percent of IT budgets are spent on tasks that “just keep the wheels turning.” That leaves 35 percent for operational improvement and IT investments. And that is not getting to the business of running your business.

Bottom Line Benefits of a MSP

Free up your internal IT staff. Remove the mundane, repetitive tasks that can bog down your IT experts. Allow your internal staff to focus on ROI-related projects. This will also improve morale and job satisfaction.

Infrastructure health check. When engaging with a MSP, select MSPs can conduct ongoing virtual and physical infrastructure assessments. Through that effort, the MSP will identify any performance or efficiency gaps that should be addressed. And, most importantly they should be able to offer solutions.

Highly specialized skills. A legit MSP has the expertise that your in-house IT team may not have time to develop, which often results in mistakes or oversights. Particularly for the small business that has 1-2 IT staff, they are stretched thin and may find themselves cutting corners to get a project done. Cloud services are a great example of a highly specialize IT function. When your in-house team is bogged down with the day-to-day IT workload, a cloud service provider can recommend, implement and manage a cloud environment for your business.

In conclusion, small businesses that take advantage of managed service providers’ tools and services not only improve the overall health of their infrastructure, but also can level the playing field when competing with large business. When in-house IT resources are available, they can implement game-changing processes and solutions that allow small businesses to compete on the big field. And it’s important to note that managed service providers function as your partner, as an extension of your team. A clearly stated delivery model and constant communication is a must.

Schedule a consultation today to learn how Flagship can help you find that balance.

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