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In just about every industry, today’s companies are more and more reliant on the performance of their information technology (IT) systems. This presents a major challenge to management and operations as IT systems become increasingly robust and complex. To address this, many companies turn to a managed IT services provider for help. Here we take a closer look at managed IT and why it may be a great fit for your business.
Managed IT refers to an information technology task or responsibility that is provided by an outside third party contractor and delivered to a client. This can be everything from one independent task to a suite of responsibilities that apply across all company operations. In most cases, the client pays the managed IT provider a monthly fee to be responsible for the functionality of all information technology services and equipment.
There are many tasks and services that fall under the category of information technology, and there are just as many variations in the working arrangement between clients and managed IT providers. Generally speaking, the common objective is to transfer the responsibility of managing these tasks from the client to an experienced IT expert. This provides the client with consistent, predictable pricing while allowing them to focus on their core operations.
Managed IT covers a wide range of services that can easily be customized to suit a client’s needs. A common package might include things like systems and server management, monitoring and maintenance of IT equipment, and cybersecurity. Increasingly, clients also hire managed IT providers to manage cloud-based services as these can help companies control costs associated with growth while providing better access to data, analytics, and information storage.
There are two general ways to deploy a managed IT provider. One is the break/fix model, where the provider monitors company systems until something “breaks” and needs to be fixed. A more modern approach is to be more proactive by incorporating activities such as patch management and predictive maintenance. Consider your company’s needs, especially if you operate in a hybrid environment that includes both traditional and cloud-based platforms.
A managed IT provider can charge for their services in a number of different ways, the most common of these being a fee-per device, a fee-per user, and an all-inclusive package. A fee-per-device model, for example, might include a flat fee for each device such as a phone, tablet, or computer that is being managed in a system monitoring and maintenance agreement.
A fee-per user is just that: a price for each employee or user on your system. All inclusive packages may set a flat fee for all the services you need from a managed IT provider. Fees can be charged a number of ways, with monthly billing being a common practice.
Choosing the right managed IT partner can provide your company with numerous benefits. One of these is flexible contract terms that allow you to pay for only those services that your company really needs. You’ll also get better use of company “downtime,” as many IT management tasks such as system updates can be performed during off hours. This allows your staff to work more efficiently during regular business hours, with fewer service interruptions.
This leads us to efficiency, one of the biggest benefits of using a managed IT provider. When you and your team are freed from the hassle of dealing with pesky system maintenance issues, they can spend more time focusing on their core duties. This is critical for time-consuming and thought-intensive tasks such as architecture and design. You’ll also avoid having to recruit, hire, train and manage your own IT staff.
Just as a managed IT provider can offer many benefits, there are a number of considerations to be aware of as you assess potential candidates. First, ask for references and try to gather as much information as possible about the provider’s track record. Have they worked with other companies in your industry, and do they understand the specific challenges your company faces? An engineering firm has very different IT obstacles than a dairy farm that sells via the internet to the public.
You’ll also want a managed IT provider with experience in strategic planning. This means understanding your company’s roadmap, and helping plan for things like upgrades to your IT infrastructure and configurations. It’s also important to have clearly outlined terms in your service level agreement, and hold your provider accountable for delivering what they’ve promised. Providers should be willing to share metrics and system data with you.
These are some of the main factors to keep in mind as you consider using managed IT for your business. Contact us to learn more about this valuable tool and see how it can maximize your potential.