As a business in the 21st century, you’re almost certainly relying on IT for multiple aspects of your operations.
And, with how prevalent technology is, you’ll likely need to rely on someone (or more than one person) to handle your IT infrastructure.
One of the options businesses have to take care of their IT needs are managed IT services.
As a managed IT services provider (MSP), here at The KR Group, we find it helpful to break the definition of managed service down into five categories:
- A basic definition
- The structure of managed IT services
- What’s included with managed services
- The pros and cons
- Good candidates for managed IT services
While the intricacies of managed services can go on for much longer, understanding these components provides a basis to decide if managed IT services are or aren’t right for you.
A basic definition of managed IT services
In the simplest sense, managed IT services is an outsourced service. If you choose managed IT services, you’re replacing in house IT with out-of-house services.
Your MSP will monitor and solve the majority of your IT problems remotely and will reserve on-site assistance for pre-scheduled times or complex problems.
As a business, you contract with a managed IT services provider (MSP) to be responsible for your IT environment. It will take over responsibility for your needs and make IT-related decisions on your behalf.
Your MSP is able to make those decisions because they’re always reviewing the health and performance of your IT network through remote monitoring and management (RMM).
The structure of managed IT services
While MSPs provide similar services to an in-house IT department, they are structured differently.
MSPs employ multiple engineers and service multiple clients. This allows the providers to scale their resources and is a cost-effective method for making highly skilled IT engineers available for even small businesses.
Price-wise, MSPs offer their services as a subscription.
MSPs break down their fees differently, but in general, they charge for an initial audit, any initial needed hardware, and monthly fees to cover software and services.
How much managed IT services cost will vary based on the availability you want from your MSP as well as your company’s size and needs.
Like other contracted services, your recurring fee covers agreed-upon terms, and your MSP will charge for time and resources for items outside of the agreement.
What’s included with managed IT services
When it comes to managing your IT network, managed services encompass several areas:
Remote monitoring and management
Part of monitoring your network is ensuring threats don’t make their way into your IT environment. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is the term used to describe the continual overview your MSP has on your environment.
RMM is what allows your MSP to keep tabs on your network despite not always being physically present at your office.
RMM gives your MSP the ability to review what threats might be present, but endpoint protection, such as antivirus, anti-spam, firewall hardware, and DNS filters, help thwart any viruses or malware.
Although an MSP engineer will respond to your IT problems 24/7/365, they aren’t always sitting with their eyes on your IT environment. As noted above, the constant monitoring software will immediately alert your provider if there is an issue that needs attention.
Endpoint protection is a mechanism to catch threats, which they’ll respond to.
While not a specific software or hardware component of your IT network under managed services, redundancy is an important aspect of outsourcing your IT.
Pros and cons of Managed IT Services
Like any service, there are pros and cons to managed IT services.
Some of the pros include:
- Redundancy – You don’t have to worry about not having an engineer available to respond to your IT needs.
- Knowledgeable – MSPs employ highly skilled engineers which can be difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to recruit and afford.
- Cost-effective – For the price, MSPs offer the most value with their high availability and skill level.
(For a complete list of pros, check out our blog, “What are the Benefits of Managed IT Services?”)
Managed IT services aren’t a great match for everyone, though, and they have their shortcomings.
Some of the cons include:
(For a complete list of problems, check out our blog, “5 Common Managed IT Services Problems and How to Solve Them.”)
- Absence of an on-site engineer – If your company relies on frequent hands-on assistance, your MSP won’t always be able to be on-site to help you immediately. Although, on-site assistance should be dispatched, available, or on-site within an hour.
- Size restraints – MSPs are best suited for small or medium businesses. However, if you’re too large for an MSP, you’re likely big enough to afford an internal IT department.
Another way to qualify your company as a good or poor fit for managed IT services is looking at what candidates who frequently are a good fit.
Managed IT services makes sense for many companies, especially small- and medium-sized businesses.
Here at The KR Group, we cater our managed services to businesses in the 10 to 100 user range, although other MSPs have different user ranges.
Likely candidates for managed services fall into several categories:
Cost savings and redundancy
The structure of managed IT services often makes it the most cost-effective option for IT. The structure of services ensures you’ll always have access to IT support.
Additionally, managed IT services cost less than hiring an in-house IT engineer with the qualifications to handle even the most complex problems.
As we mentioned before, managed IT services is best for small- and medium-sized businesses because it allows these sized companies to access the high-knowledge and skill base of IT engineers that would otherwise likely be out of their budget.
However, if you’re a large business but have less than a couple of hundred users, you still qualify for managed services and will likely benefit from them.
Managed IT services are beneficial for companies that must comply with industry regulations (financial, education, healthcare).
Since MSPs have experience working with companies ruled by these regulations, they can bring their back-tested knowledge to these vertical markets.
Managed IT services can also be a good option for small- or medium-sized businesses who are anticipating growth.
The structure of managed services simply allows you to add users instead of recruiting and hiring another in-house engineer to handle the increased IT requests.
How do you know if managed IT services are right for you?
Knowing the basics of managed IT services is a good way to know what to expect from an MSP.
In a nutshell, opting for managed IT services means you’ll have a third-party company’s qualified engineers always monitoring your IT network and available for any upcoming issues.
So, how do you know if they’re right for you?
You can check out some of our blogs on managed services. We suggest you start with “Who’s a Good Candidate for Managed IT Services?” or “Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Augmented Services.”
You can also download our flowchart, “Are Managed IT Services Right for You?,” to guide you through what IT option is likely the best fit for you.