Somewhere out of the blue, "computer consultants" started calling themselves "managed service providers." Managed Services are now offered all over the world, but what does this term mean exactly? And are all Managed Services the same?
What is Managed Services?
Some of the most accurate definitions are:
Monitoring is the Key to Preventive Maintenance
In addition to just keeping your systems up to date, a Managed Service Provider will monitor your computers and receive alerts when something is wrong - or about to go wrong. In the old days, systems were checked maybe once a month to make sure everything was good and computers were not failing. Now we have the tools that can monitor critical functions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Managed Services Means Predictable Expenses
One of the key features of a Managed Service Agreement is that the maintenance of your systems is provided for a flat monthly fee. You still pay for Adds, Moves, and Changes, but maintenance is included. If anything was working and stops working, you MSP will fix it for no additional charge. This helps makes your IT budget very stable and predictable.
Picking a Computer Consultant in the 21st Century
So what do you look for in a Managed Service Provider? Here are a few things to start with:
1) They should monitor and patch all of your equipment.
2) They should provide reporting that makes sense to you: the health of you backup system, your servers, etc.
3) They should have a ticketing system, which is a way to create a service request so that you can track how they're doing to address your problems
4) They should have a strong emphasis on backup and disaster recovery.
5) They should have a standard contract and you should be able to review it.
6) At least one person on their team should be able to talk business talk as well as computer geek-speak. Every specialty, including your business, has its own language. Someone needs to translate.
7) You should feel comfortable with the person you're dealing with. You should never feel like a stranger. In small business, business is about people. In any business, we work with people we know, like, and trust.
As mentioned above, one of the critical reasons why you should hire a Managed Services Provider is to have proper Disaster Recovery Planning. Want to know more about this? Download our Plan B guide and learn how to manage disaster!
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