It’s mid-March, and you know what that means: The next three weeks will be filled with upsets, comebacks, joy, sadness, and an overall drop in workplace productivity. No, I’m not referring to the “March Madness” mayhem that is the NCAA basketball tournament, I’m talking about the day-to-day grind of maintaining and supporting an information technology environment.
Whether it’s a crashed server, a virus, or your core business application that isn’t running right, information technology (IT) can be one “technical foul” after another. IT professionals are the point guards of every business, doing their best to keep their networks up and running at max efficiency and allowing the rest of the team to do what they do best—whether that’s executing a complicated play or hitting a layup.
In the past (way back in the era when the NCAA tournament fielded 32 teams), every company had its own IT staffer. Generally, this lone point guard could manage the network hardware and software, oversee security, and run core applications.
But, just like underhand free throws, the IT environment changes over time. Many businesses have moved away from internal IT departments, instead focusing resources on their core competencies. Managed IT services providers (MSPs) have become the “sixth man” for many companies.
March Madness: The 2016 MSP Final Four
There are at least 64 reasons to make the switch to managed IT services—but as you know, only the top few advance in the bracket each March. I’ve narrowed the field of MSP benefits to a Final Four faceoff—these are the top four reasons businesses across the country have chosen the managed services model to support their IT networks:
- Fixed IT Costs—Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what your IT costs will be every year? It’s like the 30-second shot clock: Knowing your parameters will help you square up and take the best possible shot. MSPs typically charge a fixed monthly fee, allowing your business to budget more effectively and avoid overspending. When I talk to C-level leaders, they tell me a per-user/per-month fee is a slam dunk.
- Maximized Efficiency—Organizations that handle the IT load all by themselves typically spend much more time researching and implementing projects. They invest in training for a series of IT staff members—often one-and-done players who switch to a bigger team after receiving training and certification. (One business owner told me he had a series of benchwarmers on his IT staff—they took their seats and just watched the rest of the team work hard.) These companies also spend more time and effort reacting to network issues instead of taking a proactive approach. By using an MSP, your internal team can focus on core business applications and internal projects that will maximize efficiency and cut down severely on out-of-bounds plays, air balls, and other down or wasted time.
- 24/7 Monitoring/Help Desk—Just as the NCAA governs college basketball, the managed services industry looks to MSPmentor for rankings. Any MSP that earns a high seeding from MSPmentor (like NetGain Technologies’ worldwide top 100 ranking since 2008) will offer 24/7 monitoring and helpdesk services as part of its program. This gives business leaders peace of mind and security, knowing that their IT infrastructure is being managed and monitored around the clock. Support engineers are able to resolve issues quickly from a remote network operations center (at NetGain, we’re proud that our highly certified engineers resolve 96 out of every 100 service tickets remotely—which is more convenient for our clients and much quicker than an internal IT staffer could resolve the same issues). Of course, championship-caliber MSPs also have a team of engineers who travel to clients’ offices when onsite service is necessary. You’ve always got the home-court advantage when certified engineers are working on your network.
- Vendor Management—Raise your hand if you’ve been stuck on the phone with an internet or phone provider for over an hour and by the end of the call still weren’t satisfied with the outcome! (Right now, I’m imagining most readers look like they’re in the paint under the opponent’s basket, with both hands as high as they can toward the sky.) With vendor management as a feature of managed IT services for your business, your provider will deal with all those calls—the MSP will make sure that your ISP plays nicely with your core application and your databases.
One by one the field will narrow and at the end, only one team will cut down the nets and hang a championship banner. Give some thought to whether managed services could help your business enjoy its One Shining Moment.