Somewhere out of the blue, 'computer consultants' and IT professionals the world over started calling themselves 'managed service providers,' or 'MSPs' for short. 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?
There's no single, neat definition for Managed Services. Here's what you need to know:
- Managed Services cover the maintenance of your technology for a set monthly fee.
- A MSP monitors the health of your computers, and alerts you when something goes wrong.
- Managed Services normally includes applying all critical patches, fixes, and updates to your computer systems automatically.
- It provides preventive maintenance for your computers and networks.
- In many cases an MSP works remotely, so you don't have to wait for them to come to your office every time you need help or work done.
- Most managed service providers also use a 'ticketing' system so that they can keep track of all work and provide timely, efficient IT support.
Why monitoring is the key to preventive maintenance
In addition to keeping your systems up to date, a Managed Service Provider monitors your computers and alerts you 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 that computers were not failing. Now we have the tools that can monitor critical functions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This reduces the risk of unplanned downtime and system failure.
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 that was working suddenly stops working, you MSP will fix it for no additional charge. This helps makes your IT budget very stable and predictable - a huge plus for small business owners!
How to choose the right Managed Service Provider for your business
Wondering what to look for in a Managed Service Provider? Here are a few things to consider in your search:
- They must be able to monitor and patch all of your equipment.
- They should provide reporting that makes sense to you and shows you the things that matter, like the health of you backup system, your servers, etc.
- They should have a ticketing system in place so you can create and track service requests.
- At least one person on their team should be able to talk business talk, as well as computer geek-speak. Every speciality, including your business, has its own language. Someone needs to translate.
- They must be very serious about back-up and disaster recovery.
- They should have a standard contract that you can review prior to signing.
- You should feel comfortable with them and not feel like you're dealing with a stranger. Running a small business is about relationships; you can't have a good working relationship with someone you don't know and trust.
Want more help selecting a Managed Services Provider or a business technology partner? Download our guide - it'll help you make the right choice.
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This post was originally published on the 16th October 2013, and has since been updated.