Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) form the lifeblood of the US economy. Two-thirds of American employment is created by them. From introducing cutting-edge technology to driving innovation, they are the driving force of the world’s most active market.
Yet, when it comes to sustaining growth and managing expansion, SMBs may lack the resources or the know-how that large enterprises have to confront their challenges. Also, not every SMB has the financial resources to set up an entire team complete with state-of-the-art infrastructure.
Can SMBs achieve what big players are able to achieve without being stifled by these challenges?
Can they get cost-effective and strategic support in terms of resources, infrastructure, and IT capabilities?
Yes, it is possible. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) make it possible. An MSP is a service provider who offers holistic IT services to business. They take care of various operational aspects of the business so that its leaders can focus on matters of long-term importance.
MSPs usually take care of maintaining network systems, IT infrastructure, security controls, and so on. They ensure that the business does not suffer operationally due to downtime. In a way, they also contribute to the smooth functioning of the operations by anticipating downtimes and taking proactive actions to avoid it.
The Connection Between Managed Service Providers (MSPs) And MSBs
MSPs arm the businesses with resources that they otherwise cannot afford to set up from scratch. However, MSPs are not to be mistaken for outsourcing service providers.
Outsourcing takes care of specific operational activities of a business. Such activities could be carried out by following a set of protocols that the business lays down.
Compared to an outsourcing service provider, an MSP has a more strategic role to play. They offer several benefits that go beyond cost-savings. Here are the top three strategic benefits they offer:
- Act as an extended team
- Bring their diverse experience to the table
- Manage risk and compliances
Act as an extended team
An MSP can equip a business with a team of experts and certified professionals that the business cannot hire and maintain under its own payroll. Maintaining such a well-qualified team could prove to be an expense that the modest budgets of an SMB cannot afford.
The MSP route ensures that small businesses can access top talent at an affordable cost. Moreover, they can get experienced staff, certified professionals, and project managers to co-ordinate the activities. The project managers act as the point of contact for projects and take care of reporting the operational performance and outlier incidents from time to time.
Also, MSPs make it possible to scale the team dynamically when needed. There is no necessity to engage resources if there are no active projects or tasks for them to handle. This helps keep the costs down as well.
Bring diverse capabilities to the table
MSPs work with businesses belonging to a diverse range of industries and sectors. This gives them broad experience and in-depth expertise in dealing with unique technological challenges pertaining to those industries.
Engaging such an MSP enables SMBs to draw from their experience and expertise to refine their operations. In other words, it enables them to achieve the operational competence that otherwise is restricted only to seasoned players.
For example, the in-depth knowledge of networking solutions and IT systems in an industry will help the SMBs set up processes based on these best practices. The MSP can introduce a framework of sorts that can be followed instantly to achieve operational efficiency. Also, they can introduce standard processes or best practices that can reduce the complexity of a difficult project.
Your IT infrastructure is always vulnerable to attacks including brute force attacks, ransomware, and other cybersecurity threats. For an SMB that does not have the resources to set up impenetrable security systems, MSPs can be a good option.
They can help manage the risk of security lapses by putting into place proper firewalls, VPNs for safe data access by employees, and other data protection systems.
Additionally, they can also ensure that the business is voluntarily complying with data security and user privacy compliances that are applicable. For instance, for a small business that collects and stores user information, compliance with GDPR is mandatory. An MSP can ensure that compliance is ensured by following safe data collection, storage, and management practices.
Top factors to consider when choosing a Managed Services Provider (MSP)
If you were to engage an MSP for your business, here are some factors that you must consider.
IT services are meant to work without any downtime. That implies that your MSP must be available round-the-clock. They should monitor the network system, security, and other IT infrastructure. Any anomalies should be acted upon and reported for future prevention.
An MSP should be professional to deal with. They should stick to their commitments of providing skilled and certified personnel as promised. Also, during critical times when the resources have to be scaled dynamically, the MSP should be capable of doing that without any hiccups.
The business IT infrastructure, assets, technical know-how must be protected from security threats. The MSP must provide counsel on how security can be tightened, what kind of internal systems must be implemented to close loose ends, and also ensure compliance in the process. All this calls for diverse experience and expertise in the digital services domain.
The concept of MSP became popular in the 1990s with the emergence of application service providers (ASPs). ASPs paved the way for the rampant growth of remote support. Today, with the cloud as an effective means of communication and collaboration, MSPs have become far more capable and potent in living up to their client expectations.