IT Operations

The definitive MSP cheat sheet: is a Managed Service Provider right for me?

In today's business world, everything is about speed and efficiency, so it doesn’t matter how big your company is; there's no doubt that having an MSP manage some of your IT operations will make it accomplish its goals with ease.

January 25, 2023

Ian Flemming’s James Bond is quite famous for being an efficient spy and using some ingenious gadgets to reach his goals, but he doesn’t invent them; that’s the work of Q, the British Secret Service’s quartermaster. Now, you might be wondering what Q has to do with a managed service provider; well, the answer is quite a lot.

In today's business world, everything is about speed and efficiency, so it doesn’t matter how big your company is; there's no doubt that having an MSP manage some of your IT operations, as Q does for James Bond, will make it accomplish its goals with ease as it will take a big weight out of its daily operations.

They have enough experience to understand which IT solutions your company might need and are capable of implementing them and troubleshooting any problems that might arise from using said solutions. This way, your organization can focus on the things that matter instead of diverting brain power and resources trying to fix its IT needs.

What is a managed service provider?

A managed service provider, or MSP, is a third-party company that provides IT services to other businesses. MSPs are organizations responsible for maintaining the security and stability of your IT infrastructure. These providers can be independent consultants called managed service providers (MSPs), or businesses that offer IT-related services such as server management, maintenance, or repair services.

Managed service providers are often preferred by small businesses that don't have internal IT staff, as they can handle everything from building and maintaining their network to installing software and troubleshooting issues when they arise. Thanks to this, smaller companies can focus on what they do best while letting their MSP handle everything else related to technology.

How does a managed service provider work?

The way a managed service provider offers its services is very easy to understand: An organization contacts them looking for an IT solution that they need, the MSP then either looks for or directly provides the services or products that said organization needs, and then, after providing said products or services, the MSP manages them for them.

In short, they provide the service or product to their client according to the client's requirements rather than having the client manage it themselves. For example, if you run an online store and need help with your website, an MSP could take over the management of your site for you. You would enter into some sort of contract with them whereby they would agree to keep your site running smoothly in exchange for a fee.

Now, the managed service provider doesn’t need to be the owner or developer of the product or service that they provide, and it’s quite usual for them to become the "middleman" between their customers and the organization that develops what they sell.

Who benefits from using a managed service provider?

If you have IT needs and enough budget to work with a managed service provider, then you are probably going to benefit from working with an MSP. But here are a couple of more specific examples of businesses that benefit from working with them:

Small and Medium Businesses: SMBs can greatly benefit from using a managed service provider, as they often lack the resources to properly manage both their technology and their IT operations. Additionally, they may not want to deal with the hassle of hiring or training new employees or contractors, and MSPs usually have entire teams dedicated to maintaining the solutions that they sell.

Big businesses: Companies that have offices in multiple countries often experience challenges with global IT systems and processes. These companies can benefit from using a managed service provider that has experience working with other businesses in multiple countries around the world.

Companies with a complex IT environment: Many companies have to deal with a complex IT environment that includes several different technologies and applications. These businesses can benefit from working with an MSP, as they usually have the experience, knowledge, and resources necessary to manage this type of scenario, which is why a large organization can use a managed service provider to focus on their main interests.

Businesses with small teams can work with an MSP to support their IT operations.

Why you might want to work with an MSP

There are a lot of valid reasons to look for the services of an MSP, so if you have been thinking about hiring the services of a managed service provider, here are some of the most common motives why you might want to do so:

  • You don’t have the time or knowledge to manage your own IT needs: Even if you know how to fix problems yourself, it can take too much time away from more important things like running your business.
  • You don’t have the budget for internal IT staff. It can be expensive to hire in-house IT professionals, and it’s often hard to predict how much money you’ll need in the future.
  • You need help with a specific task: If you’ve got an issue that requires expert knowledge, or there are just some things you don’t know how to do yourself, then you will benefit from working with an experienced MSP. Some managed service provider even offer 24/7 monitoring to some of the services they user.
  • You want someone to manage your IT for you: What if you need help with more than just one task? An MSP can handle many different issues for you, so it’s easier to get everything taken care of at once.

In-house IT vs. MSP: which one should you choose?

There are many benefits to partnering with an MSP. If a company doesn't have in-house IT staff, it can be difficult to find the time and resources required to manage its network and security needs. Small businesses also don't always have the money to hire a full-time employee or consultant just for IT needs—an MSP can provide these services at a lower cost than hiring someone on staff.

Why working with an in-house IT team might be what you need

While there are many good reasons to work with an MSP, not every company will benefit from doing so. Here are some of the reasons why your organization might want to have a dedicated in-house IT team:

  • You’re looking for a long-term relationship: If you can’t find an MSP who will work with you on an ongoing basis, then it might not be worth hiring them at all. In that case, having an in-house team to solve your IT needs might be what you need.
  • You won’t have to share access and credentials with a third party: An MSP will need access to your systems and networks to perform its duties, and if it were to have a security breach then your organization might end up being breached too.
  • You want someone who understands your business: In order to help you with IT, an MSP needs to know who you are and what you do. An in-house team will know your company better than an MSP, as they will always be up to date with what your company is doing and what it needs.
  • You won’t benefit from working with one: If an MSP doesn’t think that you will benefit from using their services or if the solutions that they offer aren't compatible with your systems, then they might not want to work with you at all. An in-house team will stick with you to prevent and solve your problems, even if you don’t need them at the moment.
  • You want someone who can make recommendations based on their experience. There's a saying in the Dungeons & Dragons fandom that goes, "No D&D is better than bad D&D." Similarly, an MSP with insufficient experience to handle your needs may exacerbate the problems you already have. An in-house team will know the ins and outs of your business, and it might be cheaper to train them instead of hiring an MSP.
  • You need to resolve IT issues quickly: An MSP needs to manage multiple contracts and communicate with clients to provide them with the best service possible. An in-house team will be available on an on-call basis to solve your problems, and they will always have your business as a priority. Customers don’t like waiting, and if they depend on an IT solution that is being handled by an MSP with slow response times then you might end up in a very uncomfortable situation.
MSP have experienced IT professionals to handle the software they provide.

Why are more companies working with a managed service provider?

Managed service providers are a popular choice among companies that want to alleviate costs and focus on their core business. As technology becomes more complex, it's not always easy for organizations to keep up with the latest trends and technologies. By letting an MSP handle their IT needs, companies can eliminate this burden and focus on what matters most: running their businesses efficiently. MSPs also help companies improve the quality of their services. Since these third-party IT providers have experience handling a wide range of services from different industries, they're able to work with you on new projects or help optimize existing ones.

This expertise can significantly increase productivity by reducing wait times for employees (and encouraging them to spend less time fixing technical issues), boosting employee satisfaction, and reducing turnover rates—three factors that are particularly important during periods when hiring staff may be difficult due to economic conditions or other external factors affecting business operations at large enterprises.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many good reasons to use the services of a managed service provider. You will get all of the benefits of having an in-house IT team without having to waste time on hiring and training new employees. Also, you will have access to experts who know what they are doing because they have been doing it for years!

Now, back to the Q analogy, can James Bond can accomplish his missions with just brute force and cool looks? Maybe, but when the time comes to throw an explosive pen to knock down some minions or use a laser watch to free himself, he will surely be thankful for having an IT team to back him up.

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