There is a growing trend nowadays with a lot of businesses deciding to outsource their IT support. They have come to the realisation that there is a large benefit to the company to outsource their IT Support and have a range of IT Professionals at their service, rather than employing a limited number of IT staff to assist them internally, usually at a much higher cost.
Choosing a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to handle the day-to-day ins and outs of your IT systems is not a decision to be taken lightly. They are literally responsible for your business up-time, so you want to make sure you’re using a reputable company as well as getting the most out of your IT Support.
Different MSPs offer different services to their clients. Some offer ‘block hours’, where you pre-purchase a number of hours as you call up for IT Support, the work is deducted from the block. This can be reasonable if you’re not leveraging your IT support too heavily, but if you’re using a lot of hours per week or per month, then you want to look into an MSP which offers an ‘all you can eat’ plan. These are usually called ‘Managed Service Agreements’. A Managed Service Agreement allows you to have unlimited support calls for a set monthly fee and usually includes services such as system maintenance and workstation monitoring. The fee is usually worked out by what your current staff number is, as well as the complexity of your IT systems. This system makes it easier to budget for as you know that you’re not going to be hit with a large monthly bill if you have a month which requires a lot of support. You never want to be thinking about a bill when you’re making that call to support. It should feel like an extension of your office whom you can call whenever you’re stuck with anything IT related.
On the topic of a monthly bill, it doesn’t always come down to the bottom line. The cheapest contract isn’t always the best. When looking to move IT provider, or if you’re wanting to move away from internal IT to outsourced IT, don’t just look at the cost per month. The saying “you get what you pay for” comes to mind here. It’s certainly the best option to weigh up what you’re going to be getting for your monthly IT bill and also who you’re going to be getting. The majority of IT providers take pride in being certified in the hardware and software that they support. The majority, if not all of their employees will be certified in the likes of Microsoft or Cisco to show to the client that they have industry certifications in the hardware and software that they will be supporting. Your hardware and software! At the end of the day, if you’re getting offered a cheaper rate to have service by staff who don’t have these certifications, maybe think twice before accepting the contract.
Some Managed Service Providers can bundle in different types of support to allow your dollar to go further. You may have your daily support contract for all your staff when they’re having issues, but then you also might have Project Management included in the price. When it comes time for a large project to be implemented, perhaps you’re wanting to upgrade all your systems because they’re aging, you don’t want to be paying for a project manager to scope up all the work.
If you’re leveraging the cloud, perhaps for emails (Office 365), this might be included in your monthly support fee. Most Managed Service Providers can provide you with Office 365 licensing and whilst you’re in contract negotiation, you could get the monthly fee per user added into your monthly IT budget. Assuming that your budget is based on the number of users in your company, it would make sense to have this tied in as well. You might find that you will get a cheaper price than paying for it separately and you will also get the added benefit of support from that particular MSP. Microsoft release updates on a monthly basis and that means that you will have lots of workstations and servers which will require updates as well. Perhaps regular system maintenance can also be included in your monthly support costs. You don’t want to employ the services of a Managed Service Provider for support and then realise that you’re paying extra for ‘out of scope’ work.
When you’re looking for a Managed Service Provider to outsource your IT support services, you want to be comfortable with them. You want the technical team to be friendly, you want the account managers to be technical enough so they know what they’re talking about and you want to feel like the IT Support team is an extension of your own office. Bundling services together so it all comes under the one bill makes sense and if you’re able to find a IT Provider that is willing to do this, you will definitely be on track to make the most out of your IT Support.