Whether you’re a long-term IT professional, or whether your experience lies on the business side, there are a number of reasons to consider using a managed IT service provider. A managed IT service is a company that focuses entirely on IT, and provides those services to other companies. When you hire one, you’re essentially hiring an entire IT department to take care of your business’ needs.
The best managed IT support services will provide a number of product lines, including:
● Cloud computing
● Security and compliance support
● Data centers and servers
● Disaster recovery planning
● Internal IT support
● End user support
By contracting with one of these services, you can greatly reduce your own expenses and workload. Instead of constantly getting distracted by IT concerns, you can focus on running your business. Here are 10 great reasons to hire a managed IT service provider today.
10 Benefits of Managed IT Services
1. Increased Productivity
At the end of the day, the only reason to use technology in your business is to improve productivity. When your technology isn’t working, you’re actually losing money, and something has clearly gone wrong. That’s exactly what happens any time your IT systems stop working. So, how much money are we talking about?
Mostly, it depends on the industry, and on what type of system has failed. But on average, every hour of downtime costs an organization $581 per user, per year. Moreover, employees lose an average of 18.6 hours of productivity per year, due to a combination of server and network downtime. Managed IT services can help reduce this downtime, sometimes by more than 80 percent.
Moreover, IT staff can often get pulled off of their priority tasks to fix network issues. This might not be that big of a concern if you’re a huge corporation with hundreds of IT staff. But if your IT staff is more modest, you really need them working on their jobs. The time they spend responding to frustrated users and diagnosing errors is time they’re not spending on any productive tasks.
2. Predictable, Scalable IT Spending
IT infrastructure can be a major investment. A single server can cost tens of thousands of dollars. And even if you can manage the up-front expense, you’re not necessarily going to be able to scale your infrastructure to your needs. Suppose you build your own data centre, and your business expands. Now, you have to invest more money in additional space, which could represent another major, one-time expense.
When you outsource your IT services to a managed IT provider, you’re not taking on any upfront costs. Instead, you’re paying a single monthly bill. If you want to pay for more server space, bandwidth, or other resources, you simply pay a higher bill. You also don’t have to worry about your costs fluctuating because of unexpected repairs. All of that is built into your bill.
3. Better IT Security
One of the most important functions of an IT department is to provide security for your company’s network and servers. Among other tasks, they need to:
● Installing and updating anti-virus protection
● Encrypting sensitive files to protect them from hackers
● Identifying potential misconfigurations in the network
● Probing for vulnerabilities and solving them pre-emptively.
Managed IT services provide 24/7 monitoring, which scans your network for suspicious file behaviour to eliminate threats. They can also use Intrusion Detection Systems and Intrusion Prevention Systems to protect you from external, web-based attacks.
4. Reduced Training and Tax Costs
Hiring and training new staff is an expensive process, and new hires don’t always pan out the way you’d hoped. When you outsource your IT services to another company, they deal with all the hiring and training. With a good service provider, you can rest assured that you’re dealing with competent individuals who are competent in their field.
Managed IT services can also show benefits on your tax return. Because you pay for them on a subscription basis, rather than building your own infrastructure, it counts as an operating cost, rather than a capital expense. This means that the entire amount will normally be tax-deductible during the year it’s paid. When you purchase your own equipment, you can only deduct the depreciated value in any given year, so you have to wait longer to see the tax savings.
5. Implement Cutting-Edge Technology
If you want your business to remain competitive, it helps to use the latest and greatest technology. If you’re operating your IT services in-house, any major upgrade either means hiring new staff or getting your existing staff trained with the new system. When you’re using a managed IT service, they’ll have people who are qualified to work with the latest technology. That way, upgrades should go more smoothly.
6. 'Big Company' Support
One of the toughest things about growing a small business is that you can’t afford the same type of in-house IT support as the bigger players. For example, let’s say you’re working into the wee hours of the night on an important presentation. Suddenly, your server crashes, and you can’t access your files. Both of your IT people are at home, asleep, with their phones off. You’re probably wishing you had access to a bigger staff, with round-the-clock support.
With a managed IT service, all you’d have to do is call your provider. They can fix your problem, and you can finish your presentation before your deadline. This is the kind of advantage that managed IT can offer your business. In addition to round-the-clock support, you can also respond to sudden spikes in support requests. That’s simply not possible for a small company with a limited staff.
7. Improved Compliance
We already talked about security and the potential risks that in-house security poses. But there are also broad industry standards you need to comply with. This is most important if you’re processing electronic customer transactions. If you’re accepting credit or debit payments, wire transfers, e-checks, or gift certificates, your IT systems will need to be compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.
These standards are set by the PCI Security Standards Council, which is an industry group made up of various payment processors. If you’re not compliant with current standards, and your systems get hacked, you could be liable for damages. When you outsource your IT services to a qualified provider, you can ensure that all of your processes are compliant.
8. Years of Industry Experience
When you hire your staff, you look for people who are both qualified and experienced. But when someone only works for the same IT team, working on the same problems, they’re not getting broader experience. Managed IT service employees have to work on systems for all kinds of clients, in all kinds of industries. This broad exposure helps them stay on top of all the latest tricks of the trade.
9. Reduced Risk
Even the most worthwhile business venture comes with some level of risk. In IT, in particular, you risk a systems failure that could temporarily cripple your business. You also face potential liability if your servers are hacked and someone’s personal information is stolen.
When you contract with a managed IT service provider, they take on much of that risk. And the risk they don’t take on is mitigated by their experience and their eagle-eyed focus on IT.
10. Focus on Your Core Competencies
When your company manages its own IT services, the business leaders need to put at least some effort into overseeing them. This is inevitably a distraction, but it also forces you to do a job that might not be in your wheelhouse.
When you outsource your IT services, you know that the people managing your day-to-day operations are experts in their field. This leaves you free to focus on your core business and take your business to the next level.
Pros and Cons of Using a Managed IT Support Company
As you can see, there are a number of benefits to hiring a managed IT support company. But as with any business decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and the cons, and see if this makes sense for your situation. Here are the most important pros and cons of managed IT support:
● Increased productivity and lower costs
● Improved security and compliance
● Access to the latest technology
● Allows your business to focus on its core competencies
● You may not rely on enough technology to justify the monthly bill
● Somebody else is handling some of your business’ most important processes
Before you contract with any managed IT service provider, take a minute to think about your business needs. What kinds of services are you going to use, and how much do you expect your business to grow? These and other questions will determine how you proceed.
When it comes to IT support, Australia is home to some of the top service providers in the world. The important thing is to understand your needs, and partner with someone with the right expertise.