What are Managed Services and why do I want them?
When looking for an IT company these days you may have noticed many of them offer “managed services” and are referring to themselves as MSPs or Managed Service Providers. If you’ve ever wondered what it means, or where this came from, here’s a rough outline of the history of the industry!
To understand what a managed service providers is, it’s important to know a bit of background information on the history of the IT industry. Back when computers started gaining momentum many, if not most, companies that wanted to use computer equipment needed to hire a computer technician who would take care of that side of the business.
As time went on it became obvious that there wasn’t enough IT related work to justify having a full time technician in house This was the time when IT businesses offering “outsourced IT” began to appear on the market.
Businesses needing technical support were able to call “outsourced IT” companies when they needed help of knowledgeable technicians, and pay only for the work that was required to fix the problem at hand, rather than pay the salaries of full time employees. Looking back on it, this type of work was often considered to be what’s called a Break/Fix business model. Often the client would call their IT service provider only when something broke, and the technician from IT Company would fix the issue. In this type of interaction, the technician would often perform some maintenance while onsite, or handle a number of questions that users had, but once the issue was “fixed”, their work on the network would be done. Until the next time there was a big enough problem with the network and they would be called back.
Although this type of interaction with IT Service Providers still exists, it’s becoming less common. As time went on and as the industry evolved, problems with the break/fix model did too. Business owners were finding that without having their networks maintained the overall performance of the systems were impacted. Slow machines, intermittent errors, and unexpected outages became more common. If that wasn’t bad enough, the unpredictable nature of the problems and when they would arise made it very difficult for business owners to budget for their systems.
Sounds frustrating right!? Well this was only one side of the problem. If the business owners weren’t getting frustrated enough, the IT providers had their own problems to deal with. The issue with the break/fix business model for an IT provider is that far too often when the phone would ring, it would be an angry client on the other end. Something has failed on their network and it’s affecting productivity and costing them money! Dealing with frustrated calls and upset clients made the life of a break/fix business IT provider a bit more problematic than maybe it was worth.
Eventually it became obvious that proper network maintenance can save a lot of stress for both business owners, and IT providers. The IT companies started making a strong push for proactive maintenance to limit these problems that creep up and provide a better service. While this was happening, other companies started popping up offering network monitoring tools which can watch a network 24/7/365 . Network monitoring tools send emails and alerts to the IT companies often before a problem causes an interruption in service at all! This business model allowed IT providers to charge a flat monthly rate to monitor, manage, and maintain networks, and provide a higher quality of service and up-time to their clients. To this day, network monitoring combined with high quality network maintenance is at a core of operations of more well-rounded IT providers.
So we’ve gone from in house IT, to outsourced break/fix IT. From there we moved into a business model involving proactive maintenance. We reached a time to explain what are managed services offered by MSPs!?
In this day in age there is so much technology all around us that it’s hard to know all of it well. To operate your business you likely need a combination of office phones, internet connection(s), a website, search engine optimization (SEO), online marketing, hosted emails, and any other number of devices/technologies. It is hard for you – the business owner to manage it all, especially if it involves consulting with multiple companies providing technical support for each of the technologies you rely on. It would also be hard to find one company that can do it all.
This is where the role of a managed service provider comes in.
An MSP is a company who coordinates work and services related to your technology. Whether it means calling your current technical contacts like web developers, phone people, etc. or coordinating with a service provider they know, trust, and have experience working with. The scope of managed services you have, is defined by you – your managed service provider can be your first contact for anything that goes on in your company, limited to only a part of your system, or hired for coordination of larger projects.
So there you have it! A rough idea of how the IT industry has evolved over the years, what are managed services, and is the role of a managed service provider. I’ll mention that a lot of this information I’ve picked up over the years working in the IT industry and learning about starting an MSP company. This is a simplified overview and may not cover all aspects of the evolution of the IT provider business model. I wrote this post to share with you an understanding that hopefully will help you see what kinds of options are available to you; what you should expect from your IT company; and hopefully I provided just a bit of entertainment!
If you’re looking for any level of service and you want to chat, contact us today! Maybe we can help!