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November 30, 2021
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Managed IT Services

Managed Service Providers: Challenges and Considerations

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) help organizations increase productivity and efficiency by ensuring high-value IT services and solutions are accessible and custom-built for the client. This often means MSPs are responsible for the management of IT infrastructure and systems, on and off-site. MSPs also often work in a hybrid environment by monitoring and managing in-person, on-site IT teams as well as all remote IT services and products. 

What is a Managed Service Provider

When exploring MSP possibilities, a potential client may want to better understand both the MSP market and the average MSP customer. When asking what a managed service provider is, this information may help the potential client better understand whether they are seeking services that are the right fit for them.

What is a Managed Service Provider?

MSPs proactively manage a company’s IT infrastructure and systems. Depending on the organization's custom needs, a company may manage remotely, on-site, or in a hybrid format. 

MSP Market

MSP vendors may be entirely or partially remote, which means network and server management and monitoring often also have specialties. These may include security services, cloud storage management, routine maintenance, and emergency plans and recovery services. MSPs specializations may also be industry-specific, such as government, healthcare, utilities, banking, and more. 

MSP Customer

MSP customers may include small businesses but are more often seen serving medium to large organizations and agencies. For example, they may contract with an organization to oversee all IT functions. Or they may fill gaps in a current IT team, such as, for example, alleviating the IT team from monitoring and recovery tasks so the current team can focus on their day-to-day tasks and maintenance services. 

How Managed Service Provider Can Improve IT Operations

Managed Service Providers can serve several functions that vastly improve IT operations, making the company at large more productive and digitally secure. Following are just a few examples of the top benefits of MSPs. 

Security, Compliance, and Risk Mitigation

Many existing IT teams are busy with the day-to-day tasks of managing assets, answering employee requests for assistance with various tech equipment (e.g., networked multifunction printers, computers, phone systems, etc.), and fulfilling and setting up new equipment and upgrades. 

That means updating and monitoring security and ensuring all assets and employees are compliant with the latest security measures can end up getting pushed to the side. Managed Service Providers can step in and fill this gap with ease. 

Access To The Ideal Team And Skill Sets When You Need Them

Every company does its best to hire an IT team that will handle a broad range of IT needs. However, hiring IT generalists means the company risks losing the ability to be adaptive when new problems arise that require the work of someone with a deep understanding of the problems and available solutions. Similarly, hiring specialists can mean you have a team that can handle a specific set of problems, but that may leave significant gaps in their ability to manage specific challenges and even crises when they arise. 

The right MSP is often a network of talented IT professionals with a range of general skill sets and specialties. That means when you hire a managed service provider, you always have the person or people with the exact skills and experience you need for each and every challenge as they occur. 

Cost-Effectiveness and Scalability

As a company grows, so do its departments and teams. Adding additional IT personnel can be an expensive addition because IT teams often grow at a faster pace than the company to continue to meet the exponentially expanding demands of their company. 

By recruiting a managed service provider, a company will have access to the right people at the right times. Rather than hiring an individual to work specific tasks, a managed service provider will bring the right person or people with the expertise needed to serve challenges and tasks as they come up. This means organizations only pay for what they need when they need it, and it means the IT team will grow and scale with the company much more efficiently. 

Challenge of Working With Managed Services

There are always challenges to consider when a change is coming, whether that is onboarding new employees, introducing a new product line, or managing a new target market of clients. Hiring managed service providers is no different. Here are just a few examples of some of the top considerations worth considering if hiring a managed service provider. 

Cultural Differences

Even though utilizing an MSP has many substantial benefits, it is a team of people working as a vendor while integrating with an existing IT team and possibly with other staff. This means there is an ongoing opportunity for an organizational culture mismatch. For example, an existing on-site IT team may disagree with the recommendations of the MSP. While organizational cultural differences are a possibility, the best way forward is to encourage healthy communication and have a clear line of authority. 

Strong Dependency An A Third-Party Organization

It can be challenging to hand over technology management, a vital resource, to a third-party vendor. There are many “what if” scenarios that can be of concern. Will they keep the best interests of their client at the forefront of all decisions? Will there be a change internal to them that may cause a reduction in service quality? How does the organization know that the recommendations and actions of the MSP team are what’s best? These and more are essential questions. 

This highlights the importance of having an employee who can serve as a liaison for the company. This person can help translate into layman’s terms what the MSP may need to discuss. And they should be a generalist IT person who can fully understand and communicate with the MSP team to ensure all the right questions are asked. 

Security and Compliance

Managed Service Providers are outside vendors that are given access to sensitive information and authority over some company decisions. For example, they often hold and manage the company’s most important information in their cloud database service. And they likely have access to all assets, databases, and more. 

To ensure trust in the managed service provider and in those team members who work directly with the organization, contracts and non-disclosure agreements should be in place. But, more importantly, this concern over security and compliance highlights the importance of choosing the right managed service provider. By shopping for the right MSP, an organization can build trust more quickly and move forward with a healthy and robust managed IT experience. 

Consideration For Choosing The Right Managed Service Providers

Any agreement between an organization and its new managed service provider will cover a few specifics. However, understanding how these agreements play out and what to look for is essential to whether the organization has a partnership with the right MSP. 

Client Duties

The MSP will have specific responsibilities laid out, as will the client. Look at the ways the responsibilities are distributed. How will each party be held accountable? And is there a code of conduct included for the MSP? As the MSP is becoming an integral part of the organization, the code of conduct should closely match the code of conduct internal to the organization. A high-quality relationship will be more likely if the client duties section outlines a clear understanding of cooperation. 

Warranties

Holding each other accountable for specific responsibilities is crucial for a healthy partnership. There should also be an outline of the repercussions that will follow and failures. Where are the fine lines between minor missteps and more egregious failures that may warrant legal action? Knowing what outcomes you agree to in advance can ensure both parties are protected. 

Issue Handling Procedures

A map is the best way to know where and how a client and MSP will get from A to B. By outlining and defining the ways in which challenges, big and small, are to be handled, as well as related communication practices, responses to foreseeable problems, and the timeline for responses and solutions, everyone not only has an agreement but a plan to implement. 

Termination

All contracts have defined plans in case there is a breach of contract or a mutual understanding that the relationship needs to end. Conditions for termination, including payment of related fees and other details, must be written out to ensure a trusting relationship and a healthy separation. 

Performance Agreement

Simply listing responsibilities is a great start. However, including metrics, milestones, timelines, metrics, how metrics are collected and reported, and specific deliverable ensures both parties understand the details of the relationship in the same way. As a result, the partnership will prove much more fruitful and is more likely to last by leaving no questions unanswered. 

Deliver Distributed Management And Support

One of the most critical pieces of the puzzle is to ensure that the MSP is clear about how they will deliver all managed services. There should be a clear understanding of how devices and resources are to be deployed in the most secure way possible. If there is any possibility that the client will be put at risk or their information may be exposed to a breach or other attack, then the plan cannot move forward. Every step of the way the MSP carries out all responsibilities should have clear security fail-safes in place. 

Support For Hybrid Clouds And Cloud Migration

It’s common to see companies with on-site equipment and networks. It’s also common to see organizations with a hybrid model that keeps some sensitive information in the cloud. Managed service providers must be able to provide support for all services, devices, and related products or services. If the MSP is lacking in an area of protection or service, they probably aren’t the right fit. Any MSP should be able to provide flawless coverage, even if the client doesn’t need all the available services and products. If not, the MSP may be limited when it comes time to handle a digital attack or when it comes time to scale with the organization. 

Final Thoughts

If you seek a high-integrity managed service provider that can customize their offerings to your specific needs while aligning with your values and integrating themselves with your existing IT team or entire organization, All Copy Products is the answer. Our professionals have the experience, attitude, and skills, to maintain any level of protection and IT services for any organization. Call now and speak with a representative to discover just how cost-effective and dedicated our managed services provider products and services can meet your needs now and in the future. 


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