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This is the final blog of a four-part series intended to help small and midsize businesses (SMBs) understand the challenges of managing technology and why they should consider outsourcing to a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP).

IT in small and midsize organizations has some tough challenges. The speed at which technology is changing has created an IT skills gap where SMBs can’t even find – let alone hire – IT talent with the latest skills.  Cyber security is a great example.  The current cyberthreat landscape requires that SMBs are as prepared as enterprises, yet fully 74% of SMBs feel they are “Cyber Novices” with no real ability to plan for, nor remediate an attack.

We’ve previously covered key reasons why SMBs should consider outsourcing their IT, providing guidance about when it’s a good idea to think about using an MSP. But, shifting the responsibility of your IT to an MSP is a big deal.  It requires a business case that shows outsourcing is actually beneficial to your business.

So, how can outsourcing IT benefit your organization?

Here are the top four ways MSPs create value and a positive ROI:

  1. A reduction of operational risk – You rely heavily on technology to keep your business running. Even the smallest single-employee storefront relies on a POS system to handle customer transactions. The risk of technology and operations failing is all too real, resulting in costly downtime that can reach as much as $10,000 per hour,  impacting employees, partners, contractors, and customers.  SMBs that recognize keeping IT running is a critical part of keeping the business operating realize the need to ensure their technology is properly managed and data is protected. Leveraging an MSP as your outsourced IT partner reduces the risk through proper implementation, management, maintenance, security, and protection of your business’ data, systems, and applications – all which make up your operations.
  2. A reduction of security risk – The risks of cyber attacks to small and midsize organizations are real.  Fully 43% of attacks are aimed at smaller organizations that hackers know are vulnerable. And, even if an SMB survives an attack, the costs associated with a breach can cost an average of $200,000. This clear and present risk can only be addressed through proper implementation of a layered security approach that seeks to prevent, protect, detect, and remediate attacks when they occur. The reality is SMBs simply cannot reduce security risk with a single solution they install and forget about.  Outsourcing security to an MSP that specializes in ensuring the protection of their customers is the most impactful and cost-effective way to achieve the levels of security necessary to protect the SMB.
  3. A reduction of cost – Take the example of an internal IT staffer that costs $50,000 annually. The consider the additional costs associated with hardware, software, or training that will be necessary to keep your technology running.  By outsourcing to an MSP, SMBs can see their dollars bring much more value.  For the same or lower cost of an internal IT resources, MSPs provide a comprehensive IT offering that includes the latest best practice technology needed and a team of people to manage it on an on-going basis.
  4. An increase in Revenue and IT ROI – The role of IT is to support and drive strategic initiatives necessary to see the business grow in addition to ensuring daily operations are smooth and uninterrupted.   Good IT is much more than just a technology cost center. Internal resources without experience, expertise, and vision can only maintain the organization at status quo, taxing budgets limited return on spend.  MSPs bring value both to the top and bottom line as part of their services. This helps customers achieve measurable levels of IT ROI through the implementation of strategic growth initiatives, reducing IT costs and improving business efficiencies, resulting in a materially positive impact on SMB revenues.

So, how do Managed IT Service Providers helps achieve these benefits?

It’s an important question. Why is it that an outsourced vendor can do more than an internal IT resource?  The answer is found in five aspects of a mature MSP business:

  • Standardization of Services – Those SMBs using an hourly consultant are only benefitting from their reactive, one-off executions.  Mature MSPs define and implement a core set of standardized services that can be easily tailored to every one of their customers.  This model helps to improve the speed and quality of IT service while reducing the cost to the customer. 
  • Strong Road-Tested Expertise – MSPs benefit from the experience working with many customers. There is very little they haven’t “seen before”.  But they also work to ensure their techs continually are educated, and cross-trained to stay cutting edge and preserve their ability to address your technology needs – whether responding to a problem or providing guidance on evolving your business’ IT strategy.
  • Depth and Breadth of Resources – Unlike what’s possible for an internal IT team in small and midsize businesses, MSPs have deep and broad IT teams, allowing them to address all IT concerns, including those in many specialization areas like security, cloud, and virtualization.  Remember, IT is the MSP’s core competence. So, by utilizing an MSP with dozens or even 100+ engineers on staff, you’re engaged with a team that has deep skills in every area and emerging technology.
  • Enterprise-Caliber Toolsets – SMBs regularly must settle for the “small business” edition of a given software solution. They often don’t have the budget nor bandwidth to evaluate and implement the latest IT management and security tools.  And yet, your needs for security, productivity, and availability are no different than a company 100x your size. MSPs have the very best tools on the marketplace to manage all aspects of IT – backup and DR, patch management, monitoring, asset management, performance management, helpdesk management, configuration management, and more.  MSPs give SMBs cost-effective access to the very same expensive tools used by large enterprises to keep them secure and operational.
  • Use of Automation – This is key: the rate of change in IT is so staggering that no single person can completely keep up.  New devices on your network, new security threats, updates to operating systems and applications, errors that need addressing, and changes in your workforce all require immediate attention. The use of automation uniquely helps to make managing constantly evolving environments possible where SMB operations are not just be maintained, but actually thrive.

So, what should you be looking for when outsourcing your IT to an MSP?

There are lots of IT services businesses that offer managed outsourced IT, but not all of them are the same. Your focus should be squarely on finding an MSP that you can confidently hand the keys to your IT environment over to, knowing that they can and will do a better job than you.

The right MSP for you to outsource your IT to should focus on both the daily management of your IT environment, as well as have a vision for what’s next. They should have a number of tiers of offerings that can meet your service needs and budget, with some degree of flexibility to tailor solutions to meet your specific requirements. They should lastly demonstrate expertise in both addressing the specific needs of an SMB’s IT, as well as being able to leverage evolving technology to help your business succeed. And most importantly, they should be your trusted IT ally.