If you came here looking for Minneapolis-St. Paul content, otherwise known as “The Other MSP” around these parts, you’re out of luck. This is a blog all about Managed Service Providers, not Kirby Puckett’s famous Game 6 home run.
And that’s okay, Kirby! We don’t mean any disrespect, none of us can hit like you could. But we think we have more experience taking care of some difficult digital tasks for our clients through our version of the MSP abbreviation.
To clear the air – and examine the IT version of MSP a little closer – we’re going to talk about what exactly a Managed Service provider even is, before examining the benefits and drawbacks of utilizing MSP services.
What is a Managed Service Provider?
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) operate in the IT world by offering services to businesses by supporting both short-term strategic and longer-term business planning. At the same time, managed service providers, as a whole, structure their businesses to offer different technology services at better rates than it would cost a business to do internally.
Different from traditional IT consulting roles, which are typically project-based, MSPs stand as ongoing subscription services, flexible to fit whatever the business may be facing. The work is nearly always at a higher level of quality than the business could produce, and with more flexibility and scalability to fit changing needs along the way. This includes digital transformation consulting, compliance audits, technology roadmaps, needs assessments, and more.
The Pros of Using a Managed Service Provider
Is outsourcing a good chunk of your important work to another organization right for every business? Nope. And we’re always the first to tell you that if it’s not right, don’t use it. But for many, especially recently, MSPs have become more common and familiar across the board. And a good MSP will team up with your internal IT department (if you have one) to become a partner, dialed into helping you utilize the technology they support to achieve your goals.
According to a recent survey, the percentage of companies using MSPs to manage more than half of their IT needs increased from 25% to 38% in 2021.
Most companies who utilize an MSP reportedly do so because of the:
- improvement in security protocols
- increase in flexibility and scalability
- access to top technical and industry expertise
- reduced bottom line costs
Outside of those main concerns, MSPs are also able to offer variable billing models based on a variety of unique metrics, giving every business a full range of opportunities based on their available budget at any given time. For example, a business that has large investments in hardware and software can’t reverse those investments during volatile markets. Layoffs and re-hires can be costly for myriad other reasons. So… They chose to stay flexible with an MSP!
Using pooled resources and hyper-focus on important topics, MSPs can also invest time and dollars into technologies and training in ways that individual companies, especially small businesses, could never. This allows the MSP to bring industry-wide benefits to their clients, resulting in greater efficiency and performance for everyone.
Finally, utilizing MSPs can also help bridge talent gaps for things like legacy systems. As older employees leave, those entering the industry are more reluctant to learn what they consider to be obsolete script languages and tech. An MSP can staff legacy skills and specifically train staff for them, allowing your team to stay up and running longer.
The Cons of Using a Managed Service Provider
As we've said before, outsourcing MSP work isn’t for every organization. In fact, there are some fairly important conversations your team should have before tagging in any kind of third-party group, no matter the reason or resource.
As far as MSPs go, one common issue is location. Many MSPs are regional, so when an in-person issue like a printer error code pops up, the long-range MSP may have to video-chat you through fixing the problem yourself. Some MSPs are willing to travel or facilitate outsourced help. If you foresee this being an issue for your business, talk to the MSP you're interested in to see what solutions they offer.
And don’t be mistaken, teaming up with a reputable MSP isn’t free. Cost is always dependent on the size of your business and your unique needs. As you’re doing the math, remember to factor in what the MSP will save your business in addition to the cost. For example, you're upgrading your staff's workstations. An MSP with good vendor relations can likely get those at a discounted price, saving you a decent chunk of change.
At the end of the day, your business has to decide if it’s worth the investment, but if you ask us… Well, it is almost always going to help. Whether you’re scaling, testing investments, or just need to take the pressure off your internal team, there are options available with your favorite MSP that can serve your team.
To learn more about using an MSP for your small business – and what we can do about it for you – give us a call at (864) 552-1291 and we'll help you evaluate capabilities and options. Also, sign up for PTG Tech Talk for bi-monthly tech news and consider following us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!