What is an IT MSP?
If you are like most business leaders, internal IT is not what you would consider your money maker. However, if you are a business owner in the 21st century, your business relies on the things that they provide. At Framework, we say that every business is a technology business.
Regardless of your core product – lawyers, accountants, retailers, and even software companies need their networks, computers, collaboration, and communication suites functioning properly to enable them to do what they do best.
A great IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) will include the following:
- Technology Strategy Consulting (or functional CIO)
- Outsourced IT Help Desk
- Network Setup and Support
- IT Security Services and Training
- Documentation and Best Practices Alignment
Framework IT is a managed services provider with more than 10 years of experience managing organizations’ technology. In that capacity, we’ve managed everything from the tactical to the strategic and have come to appreciate all that’s needed to run your IT.
Our goal with this article is to provide you with an overview of general MSP to help you determine if such services will be the perfect fit for your organization.
Technology Strategy Consulting
Who is making sure your technology helps you reach your goals? As we have identified, your business is a technology business, and you’re wrong if you say otherwise. Tell me, skeptical reader; on what are you reading these words? How did you find me? How did you talk to your last client? The answer to these rhetorical questions should point you to the central component of every modern business – the computer (or cell phone, or tablet).
Every business is different in its personnel makeup, goals, value proposition and so on, but nearly every business is similar in their computing foundations. The value in technology strategy consulting lies in the ability to communicate clearly the utility of a healthy IT environment on the overall business goals.
Having a voice on your leadership team that focuses on which technologies can help you grow, how those get implemented, and how they’re supported is a common theme of successful businesses. At the C Suite, this is referred to as the Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer (CIO or CTO), and successful companies nearly all have them. Functionally, this leadership can be achieved through hiring a person onto your senior leadership team, or by utilizing a technology consulting firm to provide similar services.
Typically, businesses who consider technology their core product or at least a strategic asset need a CIO in-house. These companies need someone on a day to day basis who is focused solely on running technology teams to ship products, support clients or otherwise generate revenue, and they don’t need to be sold on the value of a CIO. Other clients, those whose product isn’t inherently technology based, may not need a full time CIO, and can utilize an MSP to provide the same functional advantages without the need for a costly senior hire.
A successful IT MSP will start here, at the strategic level. They’ll provide your business a leadership level thinker (or team of thinkers) who are focused on the outcomes of the technology you have, how new platforms or products can help you get to where you need to go, and the implications of deployments, from a business, human capital and technology perspective.
Outsourced IT Help Desk
Some companies hire someone internally, and they support the entire organization’s IT requirements. These brave souls are jacks of all trades; those four problems listed above are very common, but they’re very different in terms of their resolution. A single person, or a team of a few will be forced to learn a number of different disciplines if they’re going to successfully support that environment.
Outsourcing your help desk allows you to leverage dozens of engineers, with disparate certifications and skillsets that can solve issues quickly, from the simplest password reset to the most complex server migrations. A good IT MSP will, at its core, give your organization the functional strength and support of an enterprise grade help desk, at a fraction of the cost of building one internally.
To deliver this, they hire engineers from different disciplines and build a hierarchical structure for delivering IT support. Most MSP’s allow for multiple modes of communication; call them, email them, chat them, etc, and a ticket system or dispatch person will triage your issue.
“What’s my password?” will get routed to a (hopefully) affable Level 1 technician who will help your employee reset.
“I can’t make a phone call” will get routed to a network or VoIP specialist, who should be able to begin the multiple step process of troubleshooting and fixing that issue.
A good IT MSP will have the team and process in place to fix what (technologically) ails you, fast.
A modern office environment requires open floor plans, a sleek aesthetic and a fully stocked kitchen, if not a ping pong table. But more than those “perks”, a successful business has the tools in place and is highly functioning at all time for their employees to excel at their jobs. In the ‘every business is a technology business’ world, this includes the Network.
Best practices for an office network today include multiple, redundant Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), a business grade firewall, business class switches and wireless access points that can be remotely accessed and configured. Redundant equipment should be nearby and a plan should be in place for swapping it out in the event of failure.
The investment your company makes in this network is a direct reflection of how valuable a day’s work in the office is. Think of it this way – if your company’s ability to communicate was taken away for an hour, how much money would it cost you? What if you lost it for a day?
A good IT MSP will deploy these technologies for you, and support them, whether remotely or on site. Framework is partial to Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti for our clients, but there are plenty of providers who can get the job done. At the end of the day, you just want to make sure your office is a place where people can come and get their work done to support your business’s growth and mission.
IT Security and Services Training
Do you know what your liability is for a cyber attack? Do you know how that breaks down by the type of attack, who gets infected, what information gets compromised, and who may have it?
That’s a scary set of questions. Chances are, you probably don’t. Your insurance agent doesn’t, either. Because it’s a relatively nascent set of problems, the risks and the outcomes of compromise are continuously shifting. But fields like Cloud Security and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) are growing rapidly to try to counteract a growing threat to each and every business in the world.
It’s pretty safe to say right now that your business probably won’t get shut down on account of a cyber intrusion. Cases of that happening are pretty rare. But IT compromises can cost serious time and money, can damage your reputation to clients and prospects, and can hamper your ability to work.
There are two primary points components to IT Security – securing the environments that your documents, software and processes live in, and training the people in your organization to do their best to not assist malicious actors from entering. Big software, hardware and cloud Vendors like Microsoft, Amazon and Google leverage huge security teams to keep the products within their environments safe, and MSP augments them.
IT Procedural Documentation and Best Practice Alignment
You need a central repository for all of your IT Assets, all of your software and licenses, all of your networking gear and server environments and all the passwords and admin rights that are associated with them.
Someone needs to document your business’ assets, your processes and how they’re used. Then, you need a reference document on how to access them, how they’re paid for, who to contact when they break and how they’re passed on in the event that someone leaves.
Once you have the documentation of your technology environment in hand, you can work with a Technology Consulting firm and/or a CIO to align what you’ve got with where you’re looking to go. When a new technology or process gets added, it goes into the documentation, and the cycle continues.
Are You Looking for an MSP?
We are hopeful that your business is successful, in whatever it is that you do. You need someone on your side who can help you leverage technology as an asset, even if it isn’t fundamentally the thing that makes your business money.
Framework understands the value that technology adds to business and how we can bring your organization to the next level. Check out our services page to see for yourself.