While recently reading through the blog of a company called Real Time Consultants, Inc., I found myself nodding in agreement at every one of their “6 Ways to Boost Your IT with Managed Services.” And while they’re delivering managed services to companies in New Jersey and we’re down here in Texas, it looks like we’re not very far apart when it comes to the benefits of managed services. I thought it might be interesting to look at each of their “6 ways” in terms of how I’ve seen these benefits play out with the companies we serve here in the Austin area.
One of the most important ways we see IT automation helping our managed-services clients is in the automated monitoring we do of their systems. The example that always comes to my mind is the time when an executive with one of our longtime client companies was about to fly overseas – and the monitoring software we’d installed on his laptop detected some major problems with the hard drive that would have almost certainly resulted in his laptop failing during his trip. Because automated monitoring alerted us to it, though, we were able to replace the drive before he left. That’s just one way automation works as part of a program of managed services, and it can prove critical, as this example illustrates.
Here’s an area where a company is generally better served by hiring a managed-services provider (MSP) than by just trying to address the issue internally. For example, I can’t count how many times we’ve found that a client is using an inexpensive or free solution for endpoint security to protect against data threats. The problem is that these widely available solutions generally only protect against about 75% of the threats that are out there today. They’re better than having nothing, but aren’t nearly as effective as the endpoint security solutions the MSP can put together based on broad experience with hundreds of clients and access to enterprise-grade security technology.
Like security, this is an area where a company can really benefit from MSP experience and resources. Based on what we learn from providing file sharing and other collaborative solutions to hundreds of clients, we’re able to recommend the best applications to meet a company’s specific collaboration needs cost-effectively.
Keeping up the reporting of data from IT systems in real time, 24/7, requires costly technology tools that are just about impossible – or at least very impractical – for a small business to justify having. A managed services provider can spread the cost of such tools over multiple clients, making this level of reporting attainable even with limited IT budgets. And you never know when it will prove invaluable. We had one client who fired an employee for chronic tardiness and was able to document it with computer log-ins, making it possible for the business to dispute an unemployment claim that would have been very costly.
Companies pay MSPs the same amount every month for IT services, which keeps the client’s costs steady and predictable. With an internal IT department, or a break/fix arrangement with an IT company, it only takes one server going down to wreck the IT budget for the rest of the year. Even worse, we’ve also often found that internal IT departments tend toward overly complicated technology deployments, which are at greater risk for failure simply because they’re so complex. It’s in our best interest to avoid unnecessary complexity, because if we roll out a complicated network or other solution that requires special “care and feeding” to avoid problems, we’re the ones who’ll be on the hook for those costs.
- Business solutions
Real Time Consultants calls this having a “virtual CIO,” and it’s all about IT that addresses business needs rather than just delivering technology solutions. You can hire the most technically brilliant people available to take care of your IT needs internally, but they may not approach IT from a budget or business perspective – particularly if it might mean sometimes having to cut the IT budget. MSPs have more of a CIO’s perspective: We think about technology solutions in terms of not just what they’re going to achieve technologically, but also how they’ll impact the bottom line and the business.
If you have a small to medium-sized business, the chances are that managed services will help your company in all the ways described here. If you’d like to talk about the potential benefits to your business, we’re always happy to talk.