The Separate Components of Managed IT Services
If you’ve read our buyer’s guide up until this point, you’re likely aware of what managed IT services are and how they work. If you’re new to our buyer’s guide, we’ll fill you in. Your IT infrastructure is made up of hardware, software, network resources, and other services required to have an operational environment. A managed IT service provider, also referred to as an MSP, is an outsourced company that acts as your technology department – monitoring, managing, and maintaining your IT infrastructure.
Nowadays, your IT infrastructure acts as the backbone of all your day-to-day operations – from fulfilling customer requests/orders to managing payroll to keeping track of inventory and everything in between. You depend on your technology because your technology enables you to grow your business – delivering your products and/or services to your customers in a timely manner.
This is what leads many businesses to invest in an MSP to take care of their environment. Every investment you make, as a business owner, carries a certain degree of risk. Depending on your industry, government regulations and financial conditions can change in an instant. An MSP takes the risks associated with technology off your plate – allowing you to focus on your business while they handle the rest.
What Defines an MSP?
In the past, many businesses leveraged what’s known as the “break/fix” model of support wherein they would call a company when something went wrong with their technology, then that company would come in and fix the problem. They’d be charged an hourly rate for this support. Although this worked fine in the past, businesses nowadays have much more complex technology infrastructures.
This means a more proactive approach is necessary. Managed IT services refers to the practice of offloading the day-to-day management of your technology to an MSP. The MSP will proactively monitor, manage, and maintain the infrastructure, including all workstations, hardware, software, network sources, and more. An MSP is defined by their ability to:
- Provide a full scope of services to manage the entire technology infrastructure.
- Offer remote monitoring and management to detect issues, install patches, etc.
- Define and document standard operating procedures.
- Provide a flat-rate monthly fee that’s easy to budget for and predict.
- Report to the client on a regular monthly or quarterly basis.
- Manage all vendor relationships, including internet, phone, and any applications.
- Offer a guaranteed service level agreement, and in some cases, response time.
- Provide recommendations based on the client’s organizational goals/challenges.
Naturally, this goes above and beyond the “break/fix” model because the MSP becomes an integrated part of your company. They know your technology infrastructure inside and out – becoming a trusted resource you can depend on.
What Are the Components of Managed IT Services?
Although not every managed IT service plan will be the same, there are some common components you can expect to see in most plans. If your MSP doesn’t offer everything you need, you’re likely able to have them add one or more components into the plan you’re leveraging. The separate components of managed IT services include:
1. Network monitoring
A remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool will be installed to monitor all endpoints, computers, and the overall network. This allows the MSP to watch for any sort of issues that may arise. In addition to giving them insight into the network, an RMM will also help them generate reports about machine health, performance, and security.
2. Helpdesk support
This is standard in most contracts. When a technology issue does happen, helpdesk support refers to your ability to contact a team of technology professionals who can help you or your end-users resolve the issue. This may be done remotely wherein they log into the system and troubleshoot or they may come onsite when necessary.
As cybercrime continues to evolve, security becomes more important than ever before. A firewall and anti-virus software is simply not enough to keep your sensitive data safe from hackers. Most MSPs offer comprehensive security solutions nowadays – keeping you safe against all sorts of threats. This should include:
- Anti-virus software
- Web content filtering
- Intrusion detection and prevention
- Anti-spam software
- And more
4. Backup and disaster recovery
If your managed IT service plan doesn’t include a backup and disaster recovery plan, make sure you request to add this to your agreement. Most MSPs will bring it up before you even realize it’s not included as they know the risk of data loss is serious. A backup and disaster recovery plan should include:
- Regular, automatic on-site backups
- Cloud-based backups
- Emergency response planning
- Regular testing of restore availability
Essentially, you want a mature plan that covers your entire business in the event of downtime due to unplanned outages, natural disasters, cyberattacks, and more. The goal is to ensure you’re able to continue operating without any sort of data loss.
5. Cloud solutions
This may or may not be included in your managed IT services plan. It’s important to ask because the cloud is a great way to reduce costs, improve accessibility, and overall, simplify your environment. You’re able to avoid upfront costs associated with purchasing, maintaining, and supporting hardware and/or software. There are many resources that can be moved to the cloud, such as:
- Your email
- Your phone systems
- Your desktops
- Your applications
- And much more
As more and more businesses move to the cloud, it’s vital to talk to your MSP about the cloud and whether or not it’s the right choice for you.
What Should I Ask Before Selecting a Managed IT Services Plan?
If you’re in the process of finding a managed IT services plan that works for you, it’s important to ask the right questions. This should include:
- What is my expected level of uptime?
- Do you include onsite support in my agreement or will it cost extra?
- How long should I expect to wait for issues to be resolved?
- Do you have a response time guarantee?
- How often is maintenance performed?
- Who performs the maintenance and how do they do it?
- How do I reach out to you when I need support?
When you’re hiring an MSP, feel free to ask them about each separate component of managed IT services. If you have any questions, make sure you have a discussion with your MSP to clarify them so you can feel confident about your investment.