What is a managed service provider (MSP)?
We assume “a provider who manages your services” isn’t the answer you’re looking for. So we’ll dig a little deeper.
A managed service provider is a team of experts remotely managing your IT infrastructure and end-user systems. These are the phones, laptops and other devices connected to your organisation’s network.
Generally, MSPs offer remote services on an ongoing basis. They carry out a set of pre-agreed services day-to-day, to manage and maintain your IT systems, and protect them from the nasty threats out there.
A managed service provider is a specialist. So, they can plug the gaps in your own team’s tech knowledge or just take routine tasks off your hands, so you can focus on growing the business. And, dare we say it, clocking off on time for once. Call us dreamers…
What are MSPs used for?
It’s worth mentioning that managed services aren’t solely IT-related. You’d be able to hire an MSP for payroll, customer management, vendor management and all sorts of other services you might need. Of course, as The Virtual IT Department, we’re focused on MSPs providing IT services. So we’ll stick with that for now.
What you use an MSP for is up to you. Small, medium and large businesses, non-profits and government agencies, tend to buddy up with a managed service provider for the peace of mind that all the important stuff is being taken care of. They keep your systems running smoothly so you don’t have to deal with downtime. Or the angry customers that come with that.
Basically, this service is an opportunity to get IT expertise built into the fabric of your organisation without having to employ more in-house staff or pay for training.
So which services could you offload?
- Data storage
- Data backup
- Firewall administration
- Cyber security
- IT infrastructure maintenance
- Technical support
- User access accounts management
How do managed service providers work?
Most managed service providers set the grounds for each partnership with a service-level agreement (SLA) that defines exactly what you, the customer, can expect every month.
Just to keep us all on the same page, here’s a quick definition of an SLA:
“A service-level agreement (SLA) defines the level of service a customer can expect from their provider. It includes the metrics used to measure service delivery, and aspects such as quality, availability and responsibilities.”
At The Virtual IT Department, we provide fixed services at a fixed cost. No surprises, no paying for things you don’t need, and no mini heart attacks when you receive an invoice.
We start every partnership with a conversation about what that means for you. So we’ll uncover:
- What skills or knowledge gaps are your in-house team dealing with?
- What are your business needs?
- What’s your budget?
With all the necessary info, we can customise your managed services to exactly what you need.
Our managed services are designed to keep your business safely up and running all the time. We work proactively to spot potential issues before they cause a scene. No one likes a scene. If something does go wrong, we fix it remotely - and fast. We’ll also put data backup plans in place so you never lose anything.
Most MSPs work remotely, meaning we won’t drink your coffee or steal the good desk by the window. Only when it’s necessary will we send a technician to your location to fix an issue. The rest of the time, you can call our Melbourne-based team of real humans for support. (It’s weird that we have to specify “real humans” these days, but it seems to be kind of a novelty.)
What are the types of managed service providers?
You can group MSPs by the types of services they offer. We’ve done the legwork for you. When you know what services you’re looking for, it’ll be easier to narrow down to the perfect provider for your business.
AKA keeping an eye on your software, applications, devices and/or servers.
Providing the troubleshooting and problem-solving you need, over the cloud or over the phone.
Preventative maintenance detects potential issues before they infiltrate your systems.
You get a console to manage all the devices, networks and software in your network, for security patching and maintenance in one place.
Regular network maintenance at a pre-agreed schedule, usually based on your business’ size, needs and budget.
…What’s the point? What are the benefits of a managed service provider?
Fill the gaps in your in-house team
Budget and space constraints usually mean businesses can’t do it all. Outsource the things you can’t quite manage alone.
Keep your business business-ing
‘Business continuity’ sounds good, right? An MSP keeps everything working behind the scenes, to minimise (expensive, infuriating) downtime.
Recover faster from a disaster
Your provider swoops in to get things back up and running quickly if something does go wrong, with data restore processes that reduce any backlash.
Get a competitive edge
Work more productively to service your customers better. Investing in the safety of your customer’s data is always a plus nowadays, too.
24/7 support from people who know their way around an IT system
Here, our team works around the clock. Get instant support and answers to questions whenever they arise.
Keep your systems secure
If needed, your provider can set up and maintain your online security systems. They might also be able to provide cybersecurity training to your staff, if they’re really good. (i.e. us.)
Keep your budget in check
A fixed monthly charge means your budget will love you. Plus, it’s usually more cost-effective than paying for one-off repairs.
Scale services up or down as needed
In the mood to grow? As your business scales, so do your managed IT services.