An Introduction to Managed IT services

For most businesses, technology load and needs have expanded exponentially in the last 20 years. 

In the late 90s, your typical business IT network was a simple affair. IT teams were mostly there just to fix bugs and correct errors, work out why the printer wasn’t working, and help you connect to the internet. Most staff members only accessed their business’ technology and systems when they were in the office.

As this technology evolved, so did the requirements for business IT support. Businesses were taking advantage of faster technology, new opportunities, more advanced systems, and increased connectivity. Most internal IT support teams just didn’t have the capacity to act as both a reactive and a proactive IT support provider.

So as businesses’ needs have changed and the demand for IT services increased, businesses have started seeing the value in outsourcing their IT services to a specialised IT provider that has the capacity to manage the full scope of their IT requirements for them.

Read on to learn about managed IT services, and why this new method is quickly taking over from the break-fix model of years past.

What is Managed IT services?

It can be tricky to define managed IT services, as what the service encompasses can vary so much, depending on what type of business you have, and your IT setup and requirements. Even two very similar businesses would likely have widely different IT needs, which is why there are many different types of managed IT services available. Managed IT services are essentially ongoing support provided by a managed service provider, or MSP, to keep business IT systems running at peak performance. These services are usually provided for a fixed monthly fee, though this payment arrangement can vary depending on your requirements. As we have mentioned, what your managed IT services cover can vary depending on your business needs and IT set up, but overall it consists of proactive monitoring and maintenance along with priority IT support, and user and device management.  

Why choose Managed IT services for your business?

The overriding benefit of managed IT services for business owners, is that they are designed to take the stress and hassle out of managing your business’s IT needs, particularly for business owners who aren’t particularly tech-savvy. 

Additionally, if your business already has internal IT support, outsourcing IT ongoing tasks as part of your managed IT service can enable your internal IT team to focus on revenue-generating tasks and projects, instead of day-to-day IT support.. Your MSP can also provide guidance and recommendations to help you optimise your business’s  IT strategies and goals, which could help to improve productivity and lead to improved ROI for your business. 

Investing in managed IT services for your business also not only means that any IT issues get resolved quickly and thoroughly, but businesses also have access to the latest IT technology and innovative products and solutions that can maximise your business’s productivity, as well as increase your profits. 

Traditional IT vs Managed IT: what’s the difference?

Where your traditional IT services provide reactive technology support in-house, managed IT services takes the next logical step, providing a more holistic service than simple IT support, managing the full scope of your business’ IT needs remotely. 

When your business outsources some, or all of your IT requirements to a managed IT services provider, think of it as instead of investing in just one IT professional, you get a whole team of IT specialists, plus you don’t need to factor in things like sick days or holidays which can disrupt and delay important ongoing IT projects. 

What are the benefits of outsourcing IT for your business?

Businesses choose to outsource their IT needs to an external IT supplier for many different reasons. Some of the main benefits include reducing the workload of overloaded in-house IT teams, supplementing IT teams that are unable to completely meet their business’s IT needs, or simply replacing the requirement for an internal IT team, saving your business money on salary and recruiting requirements. 

Another benefit of outsourcing IT tasks to a managed IT service provider, is that managed IT service providers are not tied to the same schedule as your other employees, meaning that they would be able to perform system updates and maintenance out of business hours, resulting in fewer workflow disruptions for your business and employees. 

What managed IT services provide for your business

Your chosen managed IT services provider will be able to make some tailored suggestions depending on your business requirements and goals, but here’s a brief rundown of what managed services generally cover and why you need managed IT services for your business.

Reactive IT support

Yes, managed IT services still provide reactive IT support. After all, businesses would crash to a halt without it. So they’re still on hand to provide reactive IT needs, to help fix errors, and to solve software and hardware issues. And better yet, they don’t need to be on-site to do it.

Email and account support services

Your managed IT support team can help get new users set up with their email accounts, to troubleshoot any email errors and issues—even to set up email signatures. They’ll be there to set up new users, delete old accounts, and even provide training on email protocol and proper password safety (yes, this still needs to be taught).

Software and hardware support

While your IT team can help install software, manage your hardware, and replace your old tech with new products, it’s often only when you ask them. Managed IT services ensures this happens proactively. They plan for what you need, when you need it, and roll this out for you.

You can work with them to map out the age of your technology, and they’ll be able to ensure your data is backed up, and your tech and devices are replaced on time, without any unnecessary downtime to your staff.

They’ll be able to provide advice on the best hardware to use, and the right software for your business. They can provide a detailed review of your software and hardware inventory, and even advise what software you might currently have that you don’t need. By identifying outdated or legacy systems that need to go, they’ll help you consolidate your IT load—which will save you big over the long run. By using a managed IT service provider to source your equipment, you can take advantage of their expert knowledge, buying power, and to ensure that you are getting the right product to fit your requirements. 

Manage your network

As a growing business, your IT needs and staff requirements are going to increase. So your network load will, too. 

Your managed IT services provider can regularly review your IT network, determine all the different touch points involved, and provide advice on where your network architecture could be managed more efficiently. They can provide insight about the future needs of your network that your IT support services just don’t have. They can help you identify where it’s going to grow, identify any potential vulnerabilities, and provide measures to improve these.

Cybersecurity

A key part of managed IT services teams’ roles is to stay up to date on the latest cyber threats. As well as reactive threat support, they ensure your antivirus and firewall software is updated, and that you’re using the most appropriate antivirus software for your business. They can provide 24/7 support if required, and can be there on the phone if you click on an ad and start getting malware pop ups at 10pm at night. Education is also an important part of cyber security, helping your business to make smarter security decisions and providing training for your employees to help overcome avoidable breaches caused by phishing scams and email malware.

Data storage and backup

Ensuring your company data is backed up is critical for your business to remain resilient against attacks. Your managed IT services provider can help you take advantage of secure multi-site storage. You’ll be able to regularly update your backups both on-site, and off-site, to provide redundancies should anything occur at your office, or theirs.

IT Consulting and Planning

Strategic planning for your business’s IT requirements will help your business to improve business growth, while working to achieve your business objectives and goals. 

As part of this service, your managed service provider can help your business identify key technologies and processes that enable your company to more effectively manage its processes, helping to digitally transform your organisation and align your IT activities more closely with your business’s future plans. 

Cloud Consulting and Migration

Incorporating cloud software into your IT portfolio enables businesses to help their workforce to operate remotely, provide easier scalability and promotes a more collaborative workforce, which is very important in the current business climate with more businesses needing to be able to manage their teams remotely during lockdowns. 

The specific IT services your business will receive will depend on your business type and requirements, and these services should be laid out in your managed services contract.

What is a managed service contract?

A managed services contract is essentially a service level agreement (SLA) between the service provider and your business. What your managed services SLA covers will vary depending on your business’s IT requirements but generally speaking, your SLA will include a specific description of the services that will be provided and the expected service levels, standard response times and procedures for things like equipment downtime, system failures and asset management, and the duties and responsibilities of each party. 

All managed IT agreements will include a SLA and  the benefits of these is that it sets out each parties expectations and requirements, so that there is no miscommunication or confusion. This is why explaining your needs and expectations with your MSP is so important, as an air-tight SLA can help to reduce the potential for future issues for your managed IT services. 

What are the key considerations for managed service providers?

Managed service providers can offer many benefits for your business, but there are also some things you will need to consider before you sign your SLA:

  • Hold your MSP accountable

When choosing a MSP you need to ensure they have clearly defined and actionable SLAs.The SLA should include clear reporting of deliverables and expected performance and should also make note of any penalties should these requirements not be met, for both parties.

  • Planning your business’s IT future

Managed IT service providers should be able to help you strategically plan infrastructure upgrades, configuration changes, and any additional IT equipment procurement required in order to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits and value from their IT services. In order for this to be achievable, your MSP will not only need to understand your current business infrastructure, but also be able to plan for future improvements and expansion to align with your business’s current and future objectives.

  • Ensure the MSP is suited to your business

When considering working with a MSP, you must first verify their track record with your type of business. Different industries and business sizes can have vastly different IT set-ups and so you will need to make sure that your chosen managed IT service provider has experience with businesses like yours. It is worth speaking to some of their past and current customers when possible, so you can determine what they are like to work with and gain insights from their customers’ experiences. A reputable managed IT service provider should be happy to provide you with references. 

Get managed IT services for your business

If your business is maturing, and your current IT support services aren’t meeting your needs, contact InfoTech Solutions today to discuss a managed IT services solution. We have a team of experienced and dynamic technicians that provide a high-level of IT strategy, solutions and support to hundreds of clients across many different industries. 

Contact us today on 07 3390 8833 to find out how we can help to improve your business’s IT.

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