When Should You Hire Your First Managed IT Service Provider?
Small businesses can get by with hourly IT support — to a point. Paying someone to come onsite when there’s a problem on a computer or server is an easy arrangement. If everyone in your organization is at least a little computer savvy, this “break-fix” model feels like a good value. After all, why should you pay for IT support when you don’t need it?
There’s a point in the development of all businesses where they need to transition from the reactive break-fix model to the proactive managed IT services model, though. We’ve talked at length about proactive IT support and its many benefits. But how do you know if your business has reached that point? Here are some of the most common signs it’s time to make the switch.
You Want a Predictable IT Budget
Some businesses who decide to work with an MSP get apprehensive the first time they see the monthly fees involved. On the surface, an MSP’s monthly bill could be two, or even three times what they’d been paying for IT support previously.
Why would they up their cost like that if the status quo is working just fine?
The truth is that most small and midsized businesses working with an hourly IT support firm have no clear idea how much they’re spending to truly support their technology. This is mostly due to a misunderstanding of how to calculate the costs of IT management.
We’ll give you a few examples:
Does your business account for the cost of an employee who spends hours fiddling with their Microsoft Outlook settings, without billing your IT support person? What happens if HR needs to onboard a new employee, and takes much longer to setup and configure the Microsoft 365 account than they should take? The time to fix these small technology problems goes unaccounted for, and they happen daily.
Here are some other hidden IT costs in the break-fix model that you might not be accounting for:
- Poorly configured or malfunctioning applications.
- Lackluster network connectivity or performance.
- Out of date systems that cause incompatibilities, inefficient workflows or security concerns.
- Employee “workarounds” for poorly maintained systems.
- Cybersecurity software/subscriptions and other “IT tools”.
These costs add up! According to recent research from TechRepublic, 19% of onsite workers report wasting more than two hours a week, while nearly 40% of remote staff are wasting time on technology issues.
You Want to Get Serious About Safeguarding Your Data
Ransomware and viruses, disgruntled employees, human error, and hardware failure are just a few of the things that threaten your company’s data.
Small organizations can rely on periodic data security audits, consumer grade anti-virus, and their relative obscurity to keep their data safe, but this approach falls apart as a business grows or begins to prioritize its data security.
The first reason why is, as a business scales it naturally starts to collect more sensitive data. This includes billing information, customer and vendor data, employee information, and other forms of regulated personally identifiable information (PII). Secondarily, in a larger organization its hard to know which staff are following your data security protocols and which aren’t, meaning that it takes longer to detect data security breaches.
An hourly IT support contractor simply can’t protect your sensitive data. Their job is to fix the specific system at hand, not plan an overall data security strategy for your business. Without that ongoing expertise, you could expose your business to regulatory compliance fines, lawsuits, and loss of reputation.
Working with an established MSP is the next logical step businesses take to secure their data and protect themselves from intrusion, because the service they provide is built on proactively seeking out and mitigating your areas of risk.
From protecting yourself against viruses with secured endpoints and servers, to designing a disaster recovery strategy and regularly patching your systems; a reputable managed IT service provider (MSP) helps you foresee data security challenges and safeguard your business and information from disaster.
There was a record 1,862 data breaches in 2021, a 68% increase from the 2022. (Identity Theft Resource Center)
Peak Productivity Has Becoming a Priority
Sometimes it’s the need for continuous and optimal business operation, not cost stability, that drives the decision to partner with an MSP.
In many industries, cutting-edge network technology is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a critical business capability that can make the difference between competing with other firms and falling behind. This is true even for small firms in the healthcare and financial services field, for example, where technology has completely reshaped the way that organizations serve their clients and operate.
The managed IT relationship isn’t just about dependability or even security, a reputable MSP will also help your business develop an IT roadmap that aligns your technology with your business goals, so that your team is always operating with the best possible tools.
A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is a specialized role within the MSP, staffed by a senior network engineer. The vCIO will sit down in regular meetings with your decision makers to take stock of your new business goals and help you plan an IT strategy that keeps you ahead of the competition.
What exactly does a vCIO do for you?
- Provide up-to-date knowledge of the latest technology trends.
- Align your business and technology goals.
- Help you plan and manage IT upgrades and projects.
- Optimize your short-term and long-term technology roadmap.
Note: The Worst Time to Hire an MSP is When You’re in IT Trouble
Your business should also be proactive about its technology support needs, which means you shouldn’t wait until you’re already in the middle of IT or cybersecurity crisis to reach out to an MSP for technology support.
A newly onboarded MSP, who has little knowledge of how your technology systems functioned before disaster struck will have enormous difficulty getting you back on track. While they work to untangle your problems, your business will be losing valuable productivity and time.
This is a poor start to a healthy MSP relationship, which is built on methodical process, strategy, and long-term partnership.
Ohio’s Trusted Managed IT Services Partner
For over 20 years, the Astute Technology Management team has been helping businesses in the Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland areas stabilize their technology systems, approach new technology projects with greater confidence, and defend themselves from cybersecurity attack.
Could your business benefit from the help a trusted technology partner? We’re here to help.