Introduction to Managed IT Services
Some businesses might happily describe managed IT services as that affordable monthly fee that takes care of the IT headaches. That definition certainly isn’t far off as managing IT services in-house can be fraught with numerous difficulties that include adequately staffing an IT department, expense, routine maintenance, etc…A managed IT services provider will effectively take responsibility for various IT operations and manage them in the client’s interest. The managed IT services provider specializes in IT management so that the company can focus on its business without the daily committing of company resources to the IT infrastructure. A managed IT service provider offers solutions in the form of technology, management processes, and even people. Collectively, these aspects of IT management manage IT for other businesses with timely attention to detail and professional IT expertise and experience.
For the IT services provider, managing IT is the heart of its business and as many businesses have discovered, managing IT operations is a fulltime endeavor. Allowing IT experts to manage a business’s IT needs makes business sense. While most companies today rely upon their IT infrastructure for everything from marketing to customer service, several have found that managing that infrastructure isn’t what they went into business for, and yet, what a concern it is and must be for any business to be successful. Working with a stellar managed IT service provider effectively shifts IT concerns to experts who are in business only to handle IT. Many of today’s businesses have discovered that this new business model is not only affordable, it enhances their operations expertly.
What Operations Do Managed IT Services Provide?
Managed IT service providers offer a varied array of services. Typically, these services include alerts, security, round the clock monitoring, storage solutions, data backup, patch management, and other elements of daily routine IT management. From onsite support to preventative maintenance, the service provider delivers these solutions so that the company no longer has to. Yet this isn’t merely the fobbing off of business responsibilities to another party; contracting with an IT service provider is strategic business decision, a solution to choose more effective and streamlined management of the IT infrastructure. Contracting expert IT service professionals to manage business IT needs has evolved to become the ideal way to handle IT infrastructures—and for many small and mid-sized businesses, it has become the only way to have affordable access to advanced IT solutions delivered by expert IT professionals.
Comparing IT Service Models and Solutions
Choosing a Managed IT Service provider needn’t be a daunting experience. Comparing service providers and their solutions is all about fulfilling a business’s checklist of needs and priorities. Is onsite attention a must? How are fees assessed and bills generated? Is the service provider flexible? How accessible is the managed service provider’s support? Does the managed IT service provider have experience with clients in multiple industries? Choosing a service model takes careful consideration and discussion with the vendor. Yet those discussions and finding answers to these questions will ultimately help businesses choose the model that best suits them
What seems daunting about making the choice regarding the managed service provider is that many offer similar services. It’s almost a must, for instance, that a provider will offer 24/7 monitoring as part of their service package. When companies offer similar services, how does a business choose? There are some key ingredients to making this decision. First, establish that the business does in fact know what they’re doing and are good at it. Businesses can do this the old-fashioned way—check references. Talk to other companies that use the provider. In fact, it may be part of the conversation to ask providers about their strategies for remaining on the cutting edge of their field and how their employees stay current in their field. Also, address their technical team’s certifications and qualifications before making a final selection.
Secondly, choose a provider that stands behind all of their promises. Part of contracting an IT service provider in the first place is so a business can rely on IT experts. If that expertise falls through or patches aren’t installed as promised, the business suffers and the partnership ultimately fails. When discussing a prospective managed IT services provider with references, talk about how they deliver on their promises and stand behind their work. In IT, there’s no room for sloppiness on any count; businesses need their IT infrastructures working at their optimum best every day. Any model a business chooses must ultimately serve this purpose without fail, with 100% reliability.
Lastly, choose a model that addresses billing and fees up front. Be leery of models that boast rock bottom fees. Ascertain that there are no hidden fees. Managed IT services can be an incredibly affordable business solution, but it is not meant to be simply a cheap alternative. On the other hand, when it works best, a solution plan will boast a monthly fee that businesses can budget for accordingly. This isn’t to suggest that projects won’t arise that may require additional costs, but these fees are discussed upfront and delivered with no surprises. Businesses should know unequivocally the services they will be provided with and their costs.
Benefits of Managed IT Services
Businesses that outsource tasks associated with IT management find that the solution leads to many benefits. By partnering with a well-qualified firm dedicated to excellence in their field, businesses have discovered a whole new way of doing business that releases them from many IT commitments and affords them resources that can be redirected into other essential areas of operation—like services, products, and customers. When contracting with a managed IT services provider look for the following key benefits:
Businesses that outsource their IT management to service providers greatly diminish their expenses. They are able to scale back the in-house resources needed to manage their IT infrastructure. They can more easily budget for their IT expenses knowing what solutions cost and how they will be charged by their provider.
Advanced Monitoring Systems
Most managed IT service providers monitor their client’s networks, workstations, and other devices 24/7. Monitoring can proactively head off any technical issues before they become full-blown problems. Monitoring critical server information is part of any optimum routine management. Additionally, monitoring can extend to routers and firewalls so that the entire infrastructure is always getting the attention it needs even when the business is closed.
Regular maintenance is an essential part of any IT operation; yet, many businesses and their busy IT departments don’t always rank this priority as highly they should. The managed IT service provider, however, schedules these important tasks and completes them accordingly. In this way, no patches or fixes fall through the cracks. This preventative maintenance keeps the infrastructure running optimally and ultimately can lead to few setbacks regarding the equipment.
Hopefully, with the right managed IT services provider the business will experience no more downtime. Downtime costs money and can impact the business’s clients and customers. Managed service providers know this and make it their number one priority to keep their clients’ infrastructures running with backups in place 24/7. A professionally managed IT department will have both employees and customers of the business feeling confident about the sound management and reliability that managed IT affords.
Vendor and Software Management
Dealing with multiple vendors and renewing multiple licenses can be a time drain for many businesses. Managed IT service providers already have relationships with many vendors and have a streamlined process in place to handle these issues. What can be a struggle for many businesses when it comes to working with vendors is merely a matter of course for the managed IT solutions provider.
Flexibility / Scalability
The best providers know that to work optimally with their clients, they need to tailor their platform to suit their clients’ needs. With scalable features and a flexible willingness to deliver the right solutions to meet that client’s needs, the provider begins to feel like an extended part of the business—albeit, without all the responsibilities of operating that part of the business! The integration can be seamless and the daily operation of business can go on as always—but without costly IT crashes and expensive downtime.
Remote and Onsite Support
Many businesses enjoy the ease of remote service and solutions, but knowing that onsite technicians can come to the business if need be will add peace of mind to the arrangement. With today’s technology, most IT solutions can be dealt with remotely, but businesses sometimes like the option of having an engineer visit the business to oversee projects or perform an onsite solution. Employees also have the peace of mind of knowing they can refer their issues to the provider’s help desk who, more times than not, is already aware of an issue and preparing a fix.
Who Is Using Managed IT Services
Managing IT services is a global industry. A recent report in Forbes suggested that IT operations management is expected to increase by 41.3 % between 2011 and 2016. Under this umbrella, cloud services, offered by managed IT services, is also forecasted to rise as businesses become increasingly confident in the secure management of their IT infrastructures and can rely upon the many benefits managed IT services afford.
Increasingly, small and mid-sized businesses are turning to managed IT service providers and cloud computing to address their IT management needs. They gain access to the best technicians in the IT industry without having to pay for benefits, vacations, sick time, etc…and they also benefit from gaining access to top-notch technology—much of which the small or struggling business would find it difficult to afford if they had to purchase it outright. Larger businesses may also find that contracting with managed service providers is also cost-effective and leads to more streamlined processes throughout their company. In fact, a managed services provider can enhance a large business by addressing specific needs and providing tailored solutions for them.
Adapting Managed IT Services for Business Applications
This is an area where managed IT services consultants can really shine. By working with companies to find effective technology solutions for a myriad of business applications, consultants can help businesses grow and thrive. Consultants work with business leaders to find efficient and cost-effective solutions for conducting daily business. One typical example is security. A dedicated consultant can work with the company’s CEO to develop protocols for workers accessing the business’s network via mobile devices and address any issues related to cloud access and remote security.
In addition, specific projects related to IT management come up and are just an aspect of the fast-paced development of new business technologies. IT consultants help businesses transition to new technology and navigate the required upgrades or changes their IT infrastructure may need. Managed IT services solutions can be tailored to every level of the company’s IT infrastructure to serve every business tier from single workstations to interconnected offices working in different states—even different countries.
Managed IT Services Is Not Risky—It Reduces Risk
As businesses are discovering around the world, contracting a managed IT services provider enhances business operations and ultimately reduces business risk. Businesses that outsource the management of their IT infrastructure to revered IT professionals can focus on business. By efficiently monitoring and developing processes for the business’s IT applications, the managed IT services provider saves their client time and money. When IT runs properly and efficiently, the entire business can function as planned—as needed. In the end, customers and clients are served as they should be—with dedication and reliability. In this way, contracting with a managed IT service provider is a winning investment and its dividends come with the benefits outline above. Businesses that are contemplating a switch to managed IT services may even find that the only risk is to wait.
For more information about Managed IT Services and which solutions may be right for your business, call 281-404-2300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Meriplex Managed IT Services enables businesses to operate a lean IT architecture without sacrificing endpoint security or end user satisfaction.