Why outsource my IT? What’s a MSP?

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Most organizations, big and small, have gone through this exercise with Information Technology, as well as other services. “Should I hire a dedicated person, assign it to someone in the organization as an additional responsibility or outsource”? A better term for outsource in IT is engage a Managed Service Provider (MSP). When posing this question for IT services; size matters! In this exercise, we will assume there are from between 20 to 100 IT users in the organization considering an MSP.

When a company I consult with is near the lower end of this user count many times they will tell me that an employee’s relative; brother, sister or husband does their IT work. I call this type of IT provider a trunker, as their office and tools are in the trunk of their car. A trunker can be a smart way to go, receiving a prompt and personalized service response. However; it is important the trunker has a way to stay current with technology. Also, at least one employee of the organization be aware of all he or she does and documents all passwords and major tasks.

 I’ve seen the same level of service can be achieved with an IT MSP as the organization outgrows the trunker. The MSP will typically have an upfront cost to inspect and become familiar with the IT infrastructure. Then there will be a recurring charge, monthly or quarterly, for help-desk support that is either handled remotely or on the customers site. With few exceptions, organizations of 100 employees or less, are serviced satisfactorily with a remote agreement. When an issue calls for onsite service they will pay the predetermined labor rate. Another factor that is determined up front are Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). SLA’s will define how quickly the MSP will respond. As it was with the trunker mentioned before it’s up to the organization to keep track of the IT provider and their tasks. This can be made easier by the fact that an MSP, because it will engage multiple technicians for one customer, needs to document everything for their own benefit.

The MSP is the system I see work most often. So let me answer my original question. Why outsource my I.T?!

1)   Consistency and predictability of service. Based on the MSP’s reputation and the SLA’s provided most organizations experience responsive and high continuity of service. When the agreement ends, they can expect a smooth transition to the new vendor or person. I have witnessed many times when the trunker provider relationship ends poorly. The organization can be put in a position of having no documentation and not even knowing the passwords to access their systems.

2)   Transparency. Most MSP’s, as a part of their service, offer dashboards showing real-time status of devises on the network. Many even offer your business remote access to monitor your network. This is a major cost reduction based the cost to host or maintain monitoring yourself.

3)   Expertise. There is knowledge in numbers. Although you may only see or speak with one person as the face of your IT partner, you’re working with a team with vast experience and knowledge. The technical staff of an MSP will always have greater level of experience and a better knowledge of the trends in technology. This is particularly true in regulated organizations such as in healthcare and financial businesses.

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