Many of today’s small and medium-sized businesses rely on a complex array of technology solutions to power their companies. From multiple SaaS and hardware applications to mobile POS devices to network security, there’s nothing small about these tech endeavors.
But managing all of it? It’s becoming a growing challenge, especially considering that few small businesses have in-house IT support.
This is where managed services come into play, offering a way to headquarter IT support, maintenance and strategy in one, often cost-effective provider. Managed IT services not only reduces IT troubles and improves operations in the interim, it also helps small business leaders develop a proactive technology approach for the future. Address your IT needs early on, and you’ll prepare your company for growth.
Is it time for an IT upgrade?
Gartner forecasts that global IT spending will increase by 3.2% to $3.8 trillion this year. Enterprise software will experience the most growth, but IT services stand to outpace software when it comes to total spending. For many small businesses, the question isn’t if you’ll need managed IT—you may already be anticipating the need—but when to pull the trigger.
Here are some key indicators that investigating managed services makes sense:
- Your support team is nonexistent or overwhelmed. None of these bode well for solving problems quickly, or preventing them from happening in the first place. Even if you do have a small IT team, they may lack the expertise that your technology suite now requires. You end up spending more money to get help in urgent situations, while leaving your organization vulnerable to threats that your current support may not anticipate.
- Your technology is becoming more complicated. Depending on the scale of your operations, you may be overseeing multiple networks, managing software updates, and trying to keep up with security protocols. Then add in the dozens or hundreds of devices from smart phones to connected printers to POS machines that your employees use daily. Problems such as a downed server, lost data, or worse can cost your team time, prevent sales, and impact your bottom line.
- Your company is still growing. If you’re building a scalable company, then you need IT systems and processes designed to grow with your business. This applies to everything from implementing data security and data loss best practices to scheduling regular maintenance on software and hardware.
A better return on your tech
If the above sounds familiar, then exploring managed services is a smart next step. Of course, finding the right partner is critical. You’ll want to consider a variety of factors including the firm’s availability (24/7 is preferred to avoid any downtime), their expertise with your specific applications and types of networks, and whether developing a proactive IT strategy for your company is part of their offering. A solid managed service provider, for example, usually offers pre-scheduled site visits, an analysis of recurring problems, and a regular, high-level overview of your partnership, IT solutions, and future plans.
Cost is definitely part of the equation, and the rates vary widely depending on the managed IT provider. For example, firms may charge by the number of devices, applications and networks that you’re using, or more simply by the number users. However, experts note that choosing the lowest cost managed service provider isn’t necessarily the best route. Instead, find MSPs who understand your business, the long-term objectives, and the role your technology plays in achieving those goals. Also ask to contact previous customers so that you can learn about their experience with the provider.
For many small businesses, the investment in managed IT services pays off in less downtime, more efficient IT processes, and better network security. You’ll benefit from a comprehensive approach to managing your company’s technology solutions, and the ability to scale unencumbered by IT troubles.
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