You may have seen the discussion arising about managed service providers (MSPs) in recent times. Essentially, these are companies that manage the IT systems of a business remotely. Rather than dealing with everything yourself, you outsource to experts with an advanced infrastructure, knowledge, experience, and more.
Depending on the company, you might ask it to look after cybersecurity, your IT systems, accounts, risk management, compliance, contract management, or any other aspect of the IT department. Elsewhere, it might be that you want the service at the other end of the phone whenever you have technical questions.
When working with an MSP, businesses tend to lower their costs because the third-party company has all the best software and tools without the business having to invest in those themselves. Additionally, you benefit from technical support, the latest security patches, and many other benefits.
This is all great, but it still leaves one very important question… how does it work?
How Does an MSP Work?
Generally speaking, flexibility is the name of the game in 2021. In other words, MSPs will fill whatever gaps you have in the business. Instead of hiring seven IT experts to cover different areas, outsource to an MSP, and they will have specialized experts ready to help.
Therefore, the process starts by drawing up a list of gaps that you want to fill. These days, you’ll find MSPs that specialize in many different areas. This being said, they tend to all offer the basics of security assistance, technical support, infrastructure management, and similar services. If you have niche requirements, you’ll need to ensure that your chosen service provider has this feature available.
Before anything else, you’ll communicate your needs to the MSP, and you might conduct an assessment together. This is a review of your current organization, the common pain points, potential solutions, and more. The best MSPs take their time to learn your business and the market at this stage.
Importantly, there isn’t a universal approach that works for all businesses, which is why MSPs vary their services for each client. After the assessment, you can decide just how much help you want from the MSP. For example, do you want them to look after a couple of aspects of the IT infrastructure? Or do you want them to take charge of everything?
Different MSP/Client Relationship Models
Although every relationship is different, here are a couple of common models with MSPs:
Subscription Service: You’ll agree on what services the MSP will provide before then paying monthly for these services. The MSP will follow the terms of the agreement, and you’ll typically pay per equipment or computer.
Technical Support: On the other hand, you might decide that you only want help when something goes wrong. Once the contract is in place, you’ll have an emergency contact whenever a technical situation arises. Now, you don’t have to desperately scour Google for possible solutions. Instead, the MSP will help either virtually or in person.
Typically, the MSP and client will have a service-level agreement (SLA) to ensure that one doesn’t step on the other’s toes. What’s more, the MSP always understands the expectations of the client.
Also, we should note that some providers will have native services while others use the services of other providers. Ultimately, the fact that there’s so much flexibility means that you should never rush into a contract.
Instead, take your time, communicate with several providers, and agree on a package that suits you. Then, you can also scale as your needs change!