Regardless of the industry you work in, managing your IT operations effectively without a dedicated IT department or help can be very challenging, especially for small-and-medium-sized businesses who are on an upwards trajectory.

Businesses in this growth phase need their IT department to work efficiently and effectively, and to address their unique and often-nuanced needs – however, a lot of the technology created to address these issues is created for larger enterprises. As a result, the more intricate requirements for small-and-medium businesses can be difficult to answer using out of the box solutions.

This is where Managed Services Providers come in.

MSPs can provide solutions that are tailored to your business, and leverage automation internally to boost your operations and efficiency at a fraction of the cost of a fully-fledged internal IT department. Think of them as a separate IT department within your organisation!

What are Managed Service Providers?

A Managed Service Provider is an outsourced IT team, one that answers the needs of your business without being part of your business.

MSPs are third-party companies that remotely manage IT infrastructure and end-user systems, and are typically hired by SMEs, non-profits, and governmental agencies who have a minimum budget to spend on IT, but need the most out of their IT systems.

The way this works is that MSPs will handle the management of your IT systems so problems such as downtime or service interruptions can be avoided. They can also provide technical support and cybersecurity measures, ensuring that your business will run smoothly without input from your end.

What are the benefits of hiring a Managed Service Provider?

MSPs can provide small-and-medium businesses with a high-end organisation’s IT department, at a much lower cost.

There are inherent disadvantages to outsourcing your IT department, but for the most part, Managed Service Providers can really help SMEs to scale effectively. MSPs provide:

  • Expert resources that enable an SME’s growth.
  • Cybersecurity monitoring and awareness training for employees.
  • Constant network monitoring in the case of outages or system failures that need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
  • Monthly or bimonthly maintenance to ensure that systems are running as effectively as possible, with no input on the IT side from your end.
  • A disaster recovery plan in the case of cybersecurity breaches or system failures.
  • Assistance and guidance for any IT/technological-related decisions.

Addressing common misconceptions around IT outsourcing

For businesses to scale efficiently, they need a robust IT infrastructure and a dedicated team behind it. For some businesses this is out of their budget, especially if they are in a period of growth. This cornerstone of their business is left in the hands of either a non-trained professional, or in other cases merely omitted.

There are several reasons for why SMEs do not outsource their IT department, such as:

  • Loss of control. Some businesses can fear the loss of control that comes with outsourcing their IT department and leaving it in the hands of a third-party company, therefore losing their opportunity to make adjustments or decide what happens with their IT operations.
  • Increased security risks. There is a belief that outsourcing their IT department could lead to increased security risks as vulnerable data being exposed to external threats.
  • Hidden costs. As you grow, your IT needs will grow with you, and there could be an up-tick in the charges of monitoring and maintaining your IT infrastructure.

While these concerns can be debilitating for small businesses, reputable MSPs will have already considered this. Reputable MSPs will:

  • Have measures in place to allow you to control every aspect of your IT department but the technical through clear communication, written agreements, and setting expectations.
  • Have high security protocols and certifications to meet the industry standards, and any MSP that you are considering will have proof of these standards available.
  • Have a written agreement detailing what happens when the work becomes more complex, and discuss fee changes ahead of time.

It is a difficult decision to outsource such a fundamental aspect of your business, however the benefits of it can be groundbreaking for small-and-medium enterprises.

How do MSPs leverage automation to benefit businesses?

Part of the problem of automation tools is that there are several programs available, most of which are geared towards larger enterprises or run on a subscription basis that can become cost-prohibitive quickly.

By accessing automation through an MSP, a little of this cost is leveraged off as you gain access to models that are effective for your organisation without needing to research or understand which of the various automation tools will give you the best value for your business.

MSPs use automation to:

  • Increase efficiency. MSPs can streamline routine tasks such as software updates and data backups, ensuring that these run remotely and without human input. This makes sure that the business runs at its peak at all times.
  • Improve security. Automated system monitoring keeps an eye on vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure, making sure that patches to known security issues are applied as quickly as they become available. Additionally, some automated monitoring can even include compliance checks, allowing your business to adhere to industry regulations seamlessly, without the risk of non-compliance and thus hefty fines and reputation damage.
  • Save costs. Automating any measure of an SME means that the business is reducing the manual labour required to run these operations. Automation minimises downtime, boosting productivity across the business as a result of fewer disruptions to workflows.
  • Grow your business. As your business grows, your IT needs will become more intricate and more important. Automating certain aspects of your business, such as employee onboarding, minimises the human resources needed to allow your business to scale, keeping your organisation running smoothly.

Automation can be implemented in several facets of your business, but a trusted MSP can help identify which areas of your organisation can see the greatest value from automation.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that for businesses to thrive and grow in today’s competitive environment, every small advantage is needed.

For SMEs to level the playing field beneficially towards them, it is prudent to accept that automation and outsourcing are two key aspects of scaling your organisation that cannot be put off indefinitely.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into managed services and automation, reach out, and let’s see where your business can benefit.

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