IT providers always tout their managed services as the best.  Maybe they are, but what does this really mean? And, what’re the criteria for real managed services?

The term managed services came about in the late 1990’s. This was when we all started to rely on IT to run and grow our businesses.  But, we needed a way to use IT efficiently and keep costs down while doing so.

This is when subscription-based IT services came to be.  It was a huge benefit because we could purchase a comprehensive package of IT services for a predetermined monthly fee.  This was great!  We could now have an affordable level of IT management that only the big companies had before.

“But, What Are Real Managed Services? How Can I Tell These IT Companies from Others?”

Real managed service is more than just IT security or Help Desk support. It’s IT management that’s an extension of your business rather than just a “vendor.”  A Real Managed Service Provider (MSP) is your “IT Partner” so to speak and like a member of your team.

At least 75% of the ‘MSPs don’t follow this methodology.  Instead, they provide a “break-fix” IT service on a set payment schedule. An MSP who provides true managed services looks at your entire business at a whole and manages your network and infrastructure in a comprehensive way.

Real Managed Services Are:

Proactive: Wouldn’t you rather prevent a “disaster” than try to recover from one? A proactive IT strategy is the best approach to IT management. With proactive/preventive IT service, you can reduce the number and severity of issues.

A real MSP will use Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM), to detect problems and address them before they disrupt your operations. Plus, they will automate scheduled maintenance to keep your devices functioning at peak performance and to extend their usefulness.

But beware—Many MSPs simply install a few solutions to track your IT devices.  With genuine managed services your MSP will also identify workflows and processes to prevent potential problems.

Proactive IT Service prevents network and infrastructure problems by ensuring your hardware and software are properly maintained and remotely monitored.

Secure: Does your MSP provide a layered defense on multiple levels?  If not, you aren’t getting real managed services.

Setting up a successful cybersecurity defense is very challenging.  You can’t-do this on your own any longer.  The criminals are constantly shifting their tactics and adding more to their arsenals all the time (like spear phishing and ransomware).

A real MSP will be up to date on what the bad guys are doing, and know how to stop them in their tracks. They know that the best way to protect your business from cybercrime and data breaches is to use a layered defense, including the latest:

  1. Email and Anti-Spam Filtering
  2. Anti-Virus Software
  3. Perimeter Security Firewalls
  4. Backup & Disaster Recovery
  5. Patch Management
  6. Web Filtering
  7. Email & File Encryption
  8. Password Policies with Two-Factor Authentication and Controlled Imaging

They will also provide Security Awareness Training for your employees. (75% of security issues are caused by employee error.) And, a true MSP will ensure your IT security complies with any government and industry regulations you must adhere to.

Cybersecurity is a top priority. The criminals are no longer just going after the “big guys.”  It’s easier to break into the networks of smaller businesses like yours.

Reactive: When it comes to IT, something is always bound to go wrong.  That’s why you need real managed services with a 24/7 Help Desk, a Network Operations Center and Emergency Support.

Your MSP should always be available to deal with:

  • Adding or removing users.
  • Password management.
  • Email problems.
  • PC issues.
  • Internet connectivity.
  • Software problems.
  • Network connectivity.
  • Lost files and documents.
  • Viruses and Malware.
  • General user problems.

The right MSP will have tiers of Help Desk Support that handle specific types of issues. Plus, they’ll have a documented process to quickly escalate service if you need it.

  • Tier 1: Typically answers your call. If they’re busy, another team will kick in.
  • Tier 2: Handles escalated issues that Tier 1 couldn’t resolve. These issues are often more complex and may require a call to a vendor with a deeper technical understanding of the problem.
  • Upper Tiers: These are the most experienced techs. They will have ready access to all your systems and security solutions.  This is like the “critical care” team for your IT.

A real MSP provides Emergency Support with 24/7 Hours, guaranteed response times, and additional resources in times of crisis.

Consultative: A real managed services provider offers outsourced CIO Services that will cost you much less than hiring in-house advisors.  They provide the depth and breadth of expertise you need to take advantage of today’s technologies.

They can answer questions like:

  • “When do I need a new anti-virus, server or firewall?”
  • “When will our licenses expire?”
  • “What’s the right cloud strategy to use?” etc.

They will act as a complement to your existing IT staff, and provide the value you need from your technology.

Your MSP should:

  • Provide a thorough Needs Assessment to quantify the level and type of technology you require to achieve your goals.
  • Develop and implement a customized plan to meet your objectives.
  • Strategically plan for the technologies you need for today and tomorrow.
  • Assist with procurement of hardware and software to get you the best prices and value possible.
  • Develop IT policies and procedures to ensure the security of your IT, compliance, and business continuity & disaster preparedness.
  • Address whatever concerns or questions you have about your technology.
  • Manage your IT administration details so you can focus on your core business capabilities.

A true MSP will be an expert IT advisor in:

  • Security and Compliance
  • Strategic Planning & Technology Roadmap Design
  • Hardware and Software Procurement
  • Lifecycle Management
  • Budgeting
  • Communications
  • Customer Service

“Why Do I Need Managed Services Anyway?”

Because IT systems have reoccurring issues.  As with any kind of technology, a peak-performing IT system demands ever-changing and specialized skills.  With constantly changing technologies, there’s no way an in-house staff can stay up to date on the latest IT solutions.  Because of this, downtimes and interruptions occur and build on themselves. This costs you in productivity, time and money. A genuine Managed Service Provider (MSP) will monitor your IT system remotely, and stay a step ahead of downtimes and problems.  

Your IT costs fluctuate, spike and can catch you by surprise.
If yours is like most businesses, your IT costs vary, and can suddenly increase and stress your budget.  With true managed services, you’ll have the assurance and peace of mind knowing that you’ll always pay a fixed, predictable fee every month.  When you do require extra service or support, your monthly bill still remains the same. This allows you to stay on budget.

Your confidential data is at risk.
In today’s world of cybercrime, devastating viruses, and extreme weather events, your vital business data could be stolen or destroyed in a moment’s notice.  You need the assurance that it’s housed securely offsite in a high-security data center that’s maintained and monitored 24/7, and accessible at all times. A true MSP can do this for you.

You need IT service when and where you need it.  Your MSP will monitor your IT system 24/7, and if issues arise, they’ll identify and resolve them before they impact your operations. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of 24/7 Live Help Desk Support with immediate access to certified and experienced IT professionals who can help you whenever and wherever you are.

Insist on the “Real Thing.”  Here Are Some Questions to Ask When Interviewing an IT Provider to Ensure You’ll Get Real Managed Services.

Have you worked with businesses in my industry before?

Every business is unique, especially when you’re operating in an industry that’s subject to industry-specific regulations and guidelines (such as healthcare, legal, or financial services). But even if you don’t, your business needs are unique—Specific applications and technologies are required. Make sure your IT company has experience working with others in your industry.

Do you offer a guaranteed response time?

A guaranteed response time is great for those who need quick and reliable support anytime an issue occurs. With it, you won’t miss valuable business opportunities and waste payroll dollars. Ask about guaranteed response times, or, at the very least, make sure your MSP provides onsite and remote support in a timely fashion.

What Are Your Staff Qualifications and Certifications?

A true MSP can provide the certifications held by their staff, and relay how these will meet your needs. Read through case studies and testimonials on the company’s website to determine if they’re qualified.

Will you help us develop a Strategic IT Plan?

This ensures you minimize downtime, boost productivity, and save money. A Strategic IT Plan outlines:

  • When maintenance is performed,
  • How often upgrades occur,
  • What business goals should be met, and much more.

Can you ensure we’ll recover from any disaster?

Disasters are inevitable—Whether it’s a natural disaster, such as a flood or fire, or from human error, such as an accidental file deletion.  Business Continuity and Disaster-Recovery Services ensure you recover important files, and IT systems in the wake of a disaster, to minimize downtime. Make sure your MSP is well versed in this subject.

Will you help us understand and use the cloud?

The cloud is increasingly popular among modern businesses. However, many aren’t quite sure how the cloud works, or what benefits it brings. Make sure your MSP helps you understand the cloud, explains the benefits AND risks and helps you choose the right cloud service for your unique needs.

It can be difficult to find the right IT Provider for your business.  But, if you follow this guide, and ask the right questions, you’ll soon discover who can offer you Real Managed Services. Don’t settle for less.

For more information, contact Krantz Secure Technologies at (212) 286-0325 or ITsolutions@krantzsecure.com.

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