What is an MSP (Managed Service Provider)?
An MSP will provide the technology infrastructure and the tools that a business typically needs to operate. Businesses use an MSP to research and evaluate the technology market and then recommend and provide the best technology solutions for their organisation. These technologies include IT infrastructure, IT services and support; as well as communications tools, connectivity and business applications.
Why do businesses use an MSP?
Technology changes quickly and businesses need to assess, test and deploy the right technology to keep them ahead of their competitors. Having an internal function to assess and test fast changing technology requires a team with a broad range of skills with an understanding of the latest changes in business technology. Many businesses turn to MSPs to provide an outsourced technology service, giving them access to a shared pool of resources that the MSPs other clients can access.
The rise of the MSP
An MSP will typically provide and manage hardware and software for a client and become their trusted technology partner. MSPs work on a subscription basis making access to a broad range of technologies more accessible to companies of all types and sizes. For example, an MSP can provide expertise around the choice in the provision of and the management of a unified communications platform, whilst simultaneously providing the IT infrastructure, services, support and helping with an organisation’s IT strategy. Businesses of all types, sizes and from around the globe are considering their own digital transformation now within a fast changing environment, the right MSP can be an invaluable guide through this complex process.
Legacy on premise equipment is fast being replaced by cloud based services, with security, scalability and flexibility being the main drivers for this change in the way businesses operate. Companies need and want to enable their teams to communicate, access business systems, tools and data wherever they are working from, whilst knowing that their business systems and business data are secure from threats.
An experienced and established MSP will guide a business through its unique digital transformation utilising the best technology available and ensuring that they tick all of the above mentioned boxes as well as being cost effective. Let’s look at these individual factors in more detail.
Security – Business cyber security is at the top of the agenda most organisations when reviewing their technology infrastructure. A good MSP will assess the security of a client’s technology infrastructure ensuring sufficient protection is in place and that threats are detected and contained if they penetrate a customer network.
Scalability – MSPs favour cloud services as they are easier to remotely support but crucially offer scale. The cloud model enables access to sophisticated services that can scale up from 1 to an unlimited number of users.
Flexibility – Since the COVID pandemic forced businesses to enable remote working to their teams, this dramatically accelerated the long term trend towards flexible working. Business managers and their teams now simply expect flexibility. MSPs therefore target solutions that can be accessed securely and easily from any location and on a range of devices, gaining better efficiency and productivity from business teams.
MSPs remotely manage and monitor networks, servers, applications and systems, using RMM clients (remote monitoring and management) to offer optimisation to the technology applied to a business. SMBs (small to medium businesses) have adopted MSPs to give them a 3rd party alternative to employing the broad range of talent that they would need internally.
What Makes a Good MSP?
Like any outsourced function, the quality of service delivered is highly dependent on the choice of partner. A high quality MSP should have some or ideally all of the qualities and attributes:
A reliable MSP will be able to demonstrate a track record of reliable service to other clients through case studies and customer testimonials. It would also be wort seeking an independent assessment of their work by speaking to an existing client or clients.
A good MSP will act in the best interests of its clients and not to boost its own revenues. A relationship based on mutual trust is often a successful partnership and with your technology infrastructure at stake its important to find the right partner for the long term journey of business transformation.
As MSPs typically now can manage a broad range of technologies, it is important to find an MSP with the breadth of knowledge your business needs. One of the main benefits of using an MSP is having a single provider and support function for your tech, make sure the team you choose has all the right skills.
Any decent MSP will take a proactive approach to supporting and protecting your IT infrastructure, looking at preventative security measures and best practice to reduce the amount of support work required and more importantly any serious issues.
A good MSP will offer a clear scope of the work included within their proposed service offering and what is included within their scoped work. They’ll also be clear around the additional costs attached to other projects. The right MSP will also be clear about what the finishing post might look like commercially, once that they’ve made the changes they’re proposing to your business infrastructure.
A good characteristic of an MSP to watch out for is attention to the client’s own goals. MSPs should be aligned with your own business objectives and any KPI’s that are guiding you to your business objectives.
A successful MSP-client relationship must be a flexible. A good provider will adapt to changes within your organisation. Pick an MSP that can scale up the level of service and manpower required during busier times.
Can demonstrate an ROI
Perhaps most importantly of all, an MSP should be able to provide a tangible benefit to your business by ensuring a positive return on your investment. Consider the impact of the work they undertake and measure the return you get from increased productivity, better profits and increased uptime.
What services do MSPs offer?
· Monitoring. The real-time monitoring of networks and software for different applications, network devices, servers or websites.
· Remote support. MSPs offer cloud-based software, support remote devices and can remotely troubleshoot technical issues.
· Proactive support. Providers should perform preventative maintenance to stay ahead of any device or network issues that can or may arise.
· Centralised management. Using an MRR client provides a management console for more complex networks, remote monitoring, patch management and security software as well as critical updates.
· Scheduled maintenance. Regularly scheduled network maintenance.
· Simplified billing. A single interface for invoicing, payments and budgeting via a billing management portal.
· Regular review meetings. Regular meetings with all key stakeholders within an organisation can help shape efficiency, cost savings and productivity within a business.
How do MSPs charge?
Once you have made the decision to search for an MSP there are various commercial models for their services. Most MSP’s will use one of or a combination of the following pricing models:
Device pricing – A flat fee for each device managed.
User pricing – A flat fee for each user, accommodating users who may use more than one device.
All-inclusive pricing – A flat fee for infrastructure support and management services.
Tiered pricing – A choice from a number of bundled sets of services that best fits a client’s needs. This is a common model for MSP’s.
Monitoring-only pricing. Monitoring and alerting services for a company’s IT infrastructure.
Want to find out more?
Hopefully we’ve offered some detailed insight into what an MSP is, why they’re becoming so popular within the business community and how to find the right MSP for your organisation. Bluecube offer a broad enough range of managed services to hep your business push ahead of its competitors and be well placed for future growth. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team about arranging a free exploratory consultation then please use the contact form on the contact us page of our website.