Change can be hard, especially when it comes time to move on from a relationship that no longer serves your needs. Change can be even harder when that relationship is with your IT partner or Managed Service Provider. With IT at the heart of modern business, you need a strong relationship with the right MSP. With a robust partnership with your Managed Service Provider (MSP) can enhance efficiency, improve security, reduce costs, and most importantly, ensure your business stays ahead in today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape.

Of course, what this means will be different for each of us and may change over time, but the important thing is to recognise if your existing MSP relationship is no longer working for you, and when it’s time to move on. Over the years at Grassroots IT, we’ve helped numerous companies move on from their incumbent IT partner once they realised that they deserved more from the relationship, so we have a pretty good idea of what the most common areas are where MSP’s fail to perform.

Have you lost confidence in your MSP?

The number one sign that it’s time to find a new MSP is that you have lost confidence in them. This may sound obvious, but sometimes the hard part can be recognising the situation for what it is.

So how do you recognise when you’ve lost confidence in your MSP? Here are some common behaviours that may indicate it’s time to rethink your IT relationship.

  • You dread having to call them for anything.
  • Issues are never resolved properly the first time.
  • You always want a second opinion on their advice.
  • Reported issues disappear into a black hole.

If these statements resonate with you, it’s crucial to address the situation and seek change. Remember, you deserve an MSP that instils confidence, provides effective solutions, and whose advice you can trust.

Do issues never seem to be solved properly?

Another important sign that your relationship with your Managed Service Provider isn’t working is when you consistently experience recurring issues that never seem to be resolved correctly. No matter how many times you report the issue it’s always treated as if it’s the first time it’s happened, or if it is acknowledged as recurring, a proper root-cause analysis and resolution never seems to be a priority.

These technical glitches keep resurfacing time and again, causing disruptions to your business operations and leading to unnecessary stress and frustration. This persistent problem can not only indicate a lack of expertise or commitment on the part of your MSP but also highlights the urgent need to consider partnering with a more capable and reliable MSP who can provide the necessary support and solutions to address your unique business needs effectively.

Making the switch to an MSP that is dedicated to delivering top-notch services and expertise can help ensure that your technology infrastructure runs smoothly, enabling you to focus on growing your business without unnecessary hindrances.

Is your MSP helping to move you forward?

A significant red flag to watch for is if your MSP lacks a proactive, forward-thinking approach. The technology landscape is continually evolving, and your MSP should not only be keeping up with the pace but also staying one step ahead. They need to be actively speaking to you about potential weaknesses and risks in your IT infrastructure and suggesting improvements and updates to optimise your systems.

An MSP should not merely be reactive, responding only when issues arise. Instead, they should be consistently strategising and planning for the future, ensuring your business is equipped with the most up-to-date and efficient technology solutions. If your MSP is failing to communicate and engage with you in planning and updating your IT systems proactively, it might be time to consider a transition.

Your business deserves a partner who values progression and innovation, effectively guiding you through the ever-changing maze of technology to enhance your operational efficiency and growth.

Do you struggle with their poor communication?

The relationship between you and your MSP is a crucial one. But if communication or responsiveness is lacking, this can derail the success of your IT partnership. You should expect timely responses from your MSP at every step along the way and a reliable cadence of proactive communication, such as quarterly reviews. If they fall short in this area, it could be an indication that their service standards are not meeting your expectations, indicating that it’s time to consider making a switch.

When looking for an MSP with whom you can build a strong and mutually beneficial relationship, search for someone who prioritizes communication and values customer service. Look for an MSP that is easy to talk to, responsive when you reach out to them, clearly communicates how they plan to address any issues, and keeps you in the loop throughout the process.

Do your MSP’s values align with yours?

The right MSP should be a good fit for your company culture. You and your MSP must share similar values and beliefs, as this will ensure that you feel comfortable working with each other and can collaborate effectively.

At Grassroots IT our core values are fundamental to how we do business, influencing everything from how we select our team members to which clients we choose to work with.

When you find the right MSP, it can be an incredibly rewarding relationship that helps to propel your business forward. So, make sure you take the time to do your research and find someone who understands your goals and values, applies their expertise in a way that aligns with your vision and expectations.

Selecting the right Managed Service Provider is a crucial decision that significantly influences your business’ growth and success. It’s essential to recognize the red flags when they arise and make the necessary changes to ensure that your IT partnership is solid, effective, and forward-thinking.

Consider the points highlighted above and evaluate whether your current MSP relationship is empowering or hindering your business. Remember, you deserve an MSP that is not just a service provider, but a partner who understands your business, aligns with your culture, and is dedicated to helping you navigate through the technology landscape.

Recognize when it’s time to switch and take the step, even if it seems daunting. The right MSP can truly transform your business, and the journey towards that beneficial relationship is worth the effort.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of IT support, many senior business leaders find themselves drowning in a sea of data, with no clear understanding of which metrics really matter. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at three key metrics that every business leader should be paying attention to when it comes to measuring IT support performance and optimising the effectiveness of IT within their organisation.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a direct measure of how satisfied your end users are with their experience of your IT support services. CSAT feedback is usually captured through a simple online survey directly from the end user on completion of each interaction, with results presented as a percentage score. If you’ve ever clicked on a red or green smiley face icon in a support email, then you’re familiar with a CSAT survey.

The end user experience (and therefore CSAT) can be impacted by many factors, such as how easy it was to engage with IT support, how quickly and effectively the issue was resolved, and how friendly and supportive the IT support person was in their communication. Many of these metrics can be tracked individually, but arguably are most useful when considered in combination through the resulting metric of CSAT.

Csat Email Example

Why is CSAT important?

Customer satisfaction is a metric that speaks to the quality of the IT support service being delivered. Whether you have an in-house IT support team, work with an external IT support partner, or some combination of the two, ensuring that the service being delivered is of the highest quality should be a core KPI of business leadership.

Issue Categories

All IT support issues should be logged as tickets, and all tickets should be categorised in a number of different ways. A common approach to categorising support tickets is to use the industry standard ITIL guidelines, meaning a ticket may be categorised using one or more of the following:

  • Priority – Often a numerical scale from 1 to 4, where 1 is urgent.
  • Type – Often using categories such as “Incident”, “Request” and “Problem”.
  • Sub-type – Next layer categories such as “Hardware”, “Software” and “Accounts”.

Irrespective of what labels and values are used to categorise IT support issues, all issues must be categorised consistently to not only guide response efforts, but to allow for later reporting and analysis.

Ticket Type Gauge

Why are Issue Categories important?

Issue categories provide an extremely important feedback loop to management on what is working well within the organisation and what needs attention. For example, an analysis of all urgent “Priority 1” issues may identify a particular piece of networking equipment that is repeatedly failing and causing significant disruption to business operations. By identifying this, management can choose to replace the faulty equipment, thus saving the business from further expensive downtime.

Another example may involve the discovery that there is a particularly high number of “Incident” style issues related to a particular software application. Further investigation may identify a misconfiguration within the software, or perhaps a lack of knowledge amongst staff of how to use the software, leading to errors. In either case an opportunity has been identified to remove a problem and improve productivity.

Stale Issues

Stale issues are issues that are not resolved within a reasonable timeframe. What constitutes a “reasonable” timeframe will differ from one organisation to the next, however a good starting point may be to use the average resolution time across all similar issues. The specific timeframe used is less important than the intent of the exercise, which is to draw attention to issues that, for whatever reason, are not progressing to resolution as would normally be expected.

Common causes of stale issues can include:

  • Insufficient IT support capacity or knowledge to resolve issues in a timely manner.
  • An end-user not engaging with IT support attempts to resolve their issue.
  • An external vendor not responding to IT support escalations in a timely manner.
  • A resolution requiring significant change or investment from the business.

Why are Stale Issues important?

Stale issues indicate a bottleneck, or even a complete blockage in the normal IT support process. The bottleneck may be temporary, or it may be more systemic, but in either case the usual processes are not functioning as normal, and an opportunity may exist for management to step in to either help clear a temporary blockage, or to explore opportunities to remove systemic issues.

Conclusion

Monitoring key IT support metrics is vital to maintaining service quality and driving the effectiveness of IT within the organisation. The challenge can be separating the signal from the noise, identifying those metrics that actually matter, and not becoming distracted or overwhelmed by everything else. By focussing on these three IT support metrics, you will have a clear line of sight on service quality and opportunities for business improvement.

Engaging with an IT partner doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing exercise. In many cases organisations will partner with an IT provider to work alongside existing in-house IT staff to provide complementary skills and capabilities. When choosing an IT partner to work alongside in-house IT staff it’s important to choose one familiar with this model to ensure a productive, harmonious engagement.

Here are the top 5 ways that the right IT partner will be able to work alongside your existing IT staff.

#1. Work with senior business leaders to develop an overarching IT strategy

In some cases, companies may have internal IT staff who are well capable of taking care of day-to-day IT management support and project delivery. Yet senior business leaders may still need additional support in building an overall IT strategy for your IT staff to execute. Choosing a professional IT strategy consultant will give you the confidence that your technology is aligned with your long-term business strategy, helping manage growth, improve profit and drive positive change.

#2. Provide ongoing IT management support to help your staff maintain focus and accountability

Companies with in-house IT staff may find there is still a gap in the management and execution of IT strategy into the organisation. Choosing an IT partner who can provide ongoing IT management support will ensure a smooth execution of any agreed IT strategy. Your IT partner will also ensure your IT staff stay focused and accountable on executing IT initiatives throughout the business.

#3. Provide help-desk support to allow in-house IT managers to focus on high value activities

It’s common for existing in-house IT support staff to become consumed with day-to-day help-desk support for staff and clients. This in turn doesn’t give them time to work on bigger picture IT strategies, planning and execution. Partnering with a reliable IT firm can help provide help-desk and service desk support for your company, allowing existing in-house resources – whether technical or management – to focus on higher value activities within your organisation.

#4. Deliver IT projects and change initiatives that require specialist skills

A good IT partner can provide project delivery capabilities to help companies deliver IT initiatives requiring specialist technical skills that your in-house IT staff may not have, such as Microsoft Office 365 migrations and process automation development. These IT capabilities can be complex, and something you want to implement correctly the first time.

#5. Provide escalation support for in-house support staff

In-house IT support staff may manage the incidents and problems that occur in your system, but may not have the higher level technical skills or experience to handle the more complex and involved issues. The right IT partner can provide that higher level escalation support, from both a generalist perspective or a more specific product area. For example, in house IT support may handle all day-to-day help-desk requests, and then escalate the more complex or time consuming issues to your IT partner.

As you can see, investing in the right IT partner can provide additional IT support in a more targeted and specific way, becoming an extension to your IT team. In the digital world that we live in today, you can never have too much support when it comes to your business IT needs.

Whether your business is growing and you’re ready to level up your IT to include a dedicated IT provider, or you’re looking for a new Brisbane IT partner, you need to consider Managed IT Support – which means working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP). So let’s talk about choosing an MSP and how to find the right IT partner for your business.

What is a Managed Services Provider?

Our definition of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages its client’s IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. In a previous blog post, we’ve talked about an MSPbeing “a company that gives SMBs the capability to outsource their IT service delivery requirements. A good MSP will actively keep an eye on all systems, often proactively resolving issues before they even impact the business.”

A good MSP should be your trusted partner in ensuring that your IT is always on the right track, working with you to create an IT strategy that aligns with your business goals, proactively managing and monitoring your IT systems, and being on hand for support when things do need fixing.

Why would you hire an MSP over a lone “IT tech”?

1. Strategy First

A good Managed Service Provider won’t just launch into fixing anything in your IT network that’s broken. They will first do a thorough analysis of your existing systems, report on anything that needs to be upgraded and work with you to ensure your IT strategy aligns with your business goals. There’s no point spending money on IT just for technology’s sake – it’s important to ensure your IT budget is being put to the best use. And with the IT strategy in place, this enables you to focus on your core business and leave the IT work to your reliable MSP.

2. More predictable costs.

Most MSPs will charge a regular fee (often monthly) to manage and monitor your network and give you access to a Helpdesk, with a large portion of the work they do covered by this fee. They can also help with forecasting your IT budget, to help plan for equipment upgrades and other IT expenses that may arise. With the MSP proactively managing your IT network, the risk of downtime is dramatically reduced and therefore unforeseen expenses are much less likely. So while you may still have some expenses outside of the monthly charge, your IT costs become far more predictable which makes for a much healthier business cashflow.

3. Access to the latest quality resources

By choosing to partner with an MSP, you get access to a range of highly skilled and reliable IT personnel without the financial commitment of recruiting your own IT staff. A good MSP will have knowledge and be experienced with the latest range of IT equipment and systems and be able to give recommendations about the best technology for your business needs. They will also often have a network of specialty suppliers available through which to quote on and purchase your technology requirements, rather than having to deal with generic retailers who don’t understand your business.

4. Better security measures

The value of having a quality MSP on your team is knowing that your business is as cybersecure as possible. Your MSP will be able to advise on the best cybersecurity solutions for your business, including information on firewalls, cyber-insurance, passwords and user account security, security awareness training and routine audits. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants and *hoping* that your systems are safe, your MSP will be able to ensure you have an effective cybersecurity program in place in your business.

5. A true partnership

It’s great to have someone around to fix your tech when it breaks, but hiring an MSP is about working in true partnership. Your trusted IT partner should understand your business goals, keep you informed about opportunities to improve your systems and procedures which will drive business improvement and work with you on projects, as well as providing high quality helpdesk support.

Are there risks involved in hiring an MSP?

There are always risks involved in bringing a supplier on board in your business, especially one who has access to your company data, so it’s important you ensure you are hiring the right MSP in whom you trust. A quality MSP will have documented policies and procedures on how they keep your company data safe when they are working with you. Rather than one individual storing all the information about your business in his/her head, a quality MSP will be able to give you access to a team of IT professionals with a range of experience and knowledge.

What questions should I ask when hiring an MSP?

We understand that embarking on a partnership with a new Managed Service Provider might feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Perhaps you might not even know what questions to ask a potential IT partner! 

Firstly, think about what your intentions are when looking for a Brisbane IT service provider:  

  • What are your non-negotiables about this partnership? What things are really important to you when sizing up your MSP and what things can you live without? For example, do you want someone who has a local presence because you need lots of on-site work done, or is it okay to access helpdesk support remotely and on-site work can be arranged when required? 
  • How do you like working with an IT partner? Do you want someone who can manage everything independently so you can get on with your core business role, or would you like to work closely together?
  • Do you have in-house IT staff who will work with your chosen MSP? 
  • Do you want a partner who just keeps things ticking away and fixes when required, or do you want someone who is actively managing your business systems and always looking for ways to improve your business? 

Now that we’ve covered what a Managed Service Provider is and what hiring one can do for your business, as well as the risks to consider and some tips to get you started, it’s time for you to go forth and find a great IT partner to work with!  

In this article we will discuss:

  • What are Managed IT Services
  • What is Managed IT Support
  • What are the benefits of Managed IT Services
  • Understanding Managed IT Services pricing
  • Common models of Managed IT Support
  • Managed IT Support pricing models
  • Common factors that influence pricing
  • Common inclusions & exclusions
  • Other things to consider

What are Managed IT Services?

If you’re considering engaging a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to provide Managed IT Support, it’s important that you understand what factors can influence how much you will pay. You may be looking to change from an existing MSP, upgrade from ad-hoc support, or perhaps compliment in-house IT staff; in any case it’s important that you understand the factors that can influence Managed IT Services pricing, and what the price is likely to look like.

Managed IT Services are IT services provided and managed for your business by a third-party provider known as a Managed Service Provider (MSP). They are an effective way of providing your business with the information technology services and resources that it needs to prosper, without having to invest in building your own in-house capabilities in these areas. With the burden of providing and managing your IT services contracted to a third party, you can stay focused on your own core areas of expertise.

There are many services that can be delivered as a Managed IT Service, such as IT Support, Helpdesk, Internet connectivity, Infrastructure Management and Application Maintenance.

What is Managed IT Support?

Managed IT Support is the provision of IT Support & related services such as Helpdesk by a Managed Service Provider, usually charged at a fixed monthly cost for an agreed scope of service. Managed IT Support is the preferred choice for small & medium businesses in Australia when compared with other options such as ad-hoc break fix support or hiring an in-house IT support team.

Managed IT Support is often thought of primarily as user facing Helpdesk support. Although this is a significant part of any engagement, most Managed IT Support contracts will also provide for proactive management of IT platforms and infrastructure. Every MSP’s contract will be different, which is why it’s important that you properly understand the inclusions and exclusions when considering a new engagement.

The benefits of Managed IT Services

Managed IT Services have many advantages over the alternative options.

  • The MSP’s interests are aligned with yours. The better managed & maintained your IT systems are, the fewer issues you will experience and the less you will need to call on helpdesk support.
  • Promotes a partnership approach, allowing for a better understanding of each business and a more productive working relationship.
  • Access to a full team of IT experts with a range of skills, knowledge and experience.
  • Removes the risk of a single point of failure, such as a single in-house IT resource or a small ad-hoc provider.
  • Proactive monitoring of systems and resolution of emerging issues, rather than waiting for un-seen issues to become disruptive problems.

How much does Managed IT Support cost?

Every business has its own unique requirements, and every contract may have different inclusions, however in general there are commonly accepted methods for pricing a Managed IT Support contract which take into consideration factors such as the size and complexity of your IT environment, and the scope of services included.

As a rule of thumb, a Managed IT Support contract in Brisbane will cost between $100 and $150 per computer (or user) per month.

Prices in other parts of Australia may vary but in general this price range is a good indication of what you can expect to pay across most of Australia.

Common models of Managed IT Support

One factor that can influence Managed IT Services pricing is the support model that your organisation has chosen. The three most common support models are:

Fully Managed

For many small to medium-sized businesses it can make sense to fully outsource the provision of IT support to a Managed Services Provider. This will entail the MSP providing not only user-facing Helpdesk support, but also monitoring and management of infrastructure and platforms such as Microsoft 365.

Co-managed

For businesses that already have an in-house IT team, Managed IT Support can complement these staff by either providing escalation support for more complex issues, or by relieving some of the load by handling more routine or lower-level duties.

Platform management

For those businesses happy to handle their own user-facing helpdesk support, Managed IT Support can help by monitoring and managing all infrastructure and platforms and remediating any issues that may arise.

Managed IT Services pricing models

There are three common pricing models used when pricing IT support contracts which may either be used to price the entirety of the contract or used in combination to reach a final price.

Per Device

Per device pricing uses a certain price for each device of a particular type. For example, you may have 20 computers in your business and be offered a price of $100 per computer per month. Of course, it’s important to be clear on what is included in this price. Does this price include Helpdesk support for your users? Does it include management of any infrastructure such as firewalls and switches?

Per User

Per user pricing is similar to per device pricing, but rather than identifying individual devices it counts how many users are in your business.

Flat Fee

The flat fee pricing model doesn’t specifically offer a rate per device or computer, but instead offers a single flat fee, irrespective of the user or device count in the business.

Irrespective of which pricing model is used, it’s worth noting that the intention is to determine a price that will provide the client with fair value for money while allowing the MSP to make a sustainable profit. In recognition that business circumstances change over time, most contracts will allow for periodic adjustments to ensure that the agreement continues to provide value for both parties over the long term.

Common factors in Managed IT Services pricing

The final cost of Managed IT support for your business will vary depending on the needs of your business and the Managed Service Provider that you choose to engage. Here are several of the most common factors that can influence the overall cost of a Managed IT Support agreement:

  • The number of users
  • The number of computers
  • The number and type of other devices such as firewalls and printers
  • Any unique or specific apps to be supported
  • The complexity of your IT systems
  • The age & health of your IT systems
  • The number of separate office locations
  • The number of remote or field workers vs office workers
  • Any existing in-house IT staff
  • Specific requirements for response times, such as 24×7 helpdesk
  • Inclusions and exclusions such as onsite support and security management

Common inclusions

Each MSP will include different services in their contracts. Some MSP’s will have tightly defined service offerings with different inclusions that you can choose from, often following the classic Good – Better – Best model, with names like Bronze, Silver and Gold. Other MSP’s may offer a more bespoke pricing model, with inclusions and pricing specific to each client’s needs.

Whatever the pricing model, most Managed IT Support contracts have common inclusions such as:

  • Remote helpdesk support
  • Infrastructure & platform management
  • Cybersecurity software and management

Although less common, some MSP’s may choose to bundle additional items into their main list of inclusions. For example, we have seen some MSP’s bundling Office 365 licenses, and even new laptops into their core Managed IT Support contracts, rather than leaving them as optional extras.

When assessing the price of Managed IT Support it’s important to be clear on what is included in the monthly fixed fee, and what is not. For those items not included, it’s also important to be clear on what rates would apply.

Common exclusions

There will also usually be items excluded from the agreement, but available at extra cost, such as:

  • IT strategy development & implementation
  • Projects & major changes
  • Products such as computers and software licensing
  • Onsite support
  • After hours support
  • Remediation of malicious action
  • Security audit, monitoring & response
  • Training

Other things to consider

Price is a key factor when considering Managed IT Support, however there are other crucial factors to understand when deciding whether Managed IT Support is right for you, and if so, which Managed Service Provider you will partner with.

  • What is your risk profile? Partnering with a proven Managed Service Provider is an effective way to reduce your exposure to IT risks such as poorly maintained systems and key-man risk.
  • Is there values alignment? The most productive engagements are long term partnerships which rely on mutual respect & shared values.
  • Does the MSP have a proven track record of working with organisations like yours?
  • Does the MSP have experience supporting the technologies that you use?
  • Does the MSP have a proven process for supporting you not just today, but helping you to evolve and develop your IT into the future?

Next steps

Technology is a critical piece of every business but can be confusing and difficult to get right. Partnering with a proven Managed Service Provider will give you the peace of mind to focus on growing your business. Contact us today for a free consultation on how Grassroots IT can help.

Technology has evolved into a necessity in almost every aspect of our daily lives, especially in the world of business. Companies are constantly forced to adapt to the rapid advances in technology in order to thrive. For some business leaders, keeping on top of the latest technology changes might feel exciting, but for others, it can feel overwhelming and pulls you away from focusing on core business.

The decision to use outsourced IT support may save you a LOT of trouble. If you’re a business leader who is looking for better value from your IT investment, then outsourcing to a trusted Managed IT service provider may be a great option for you. You might be surprised at the benefits of outsourced IT support when compared to building your own team of in-house IT experts.

In this blog we share 5 of the the most important benefits of outsourced IT support.

#1. You can stay in your zone of genius

Knowing that there is a reliable IT Support team looking after your IT health gives you the opportunity to focus your energy on the core needs of your business. This will help drive your business forward rather than allocating valuable resources to not-so-rewarding tasks such as software updates, security patches and day to day helpdesk issues.

To have a Managed IT Support partner is to have a dedicated set of eyes looking after your IT health so that you can fully benefit from your IT investment, rather than becoming distracted by it.

#2. Peace of Mind

When you choose a trusted IT partner, your business is under the care of industry experts who are proactively watching over your IT health using advanced monitoring systems. This also includes enhanced performance for your IT systems, identifying glitches and addressing them before they become a real problem. But if they go unnoticed and undiagnosed, the issues could cause a major expense and downtime.

This will give you peace of mind knowing IT problems are minimised, and allows a highly experienced team of IT experts to take over solving problems and finding scalable solutions for your IT. Furthermore, they can help expand your vision on how you can effectively use technology in your business to drive positive change.

#3. Manage Cashflow with predictable costs

Many Managed IT service providers run on a subscription-based model that offers a fixed monthly or annual fee. Outsourcing your IT and having them proactively manage your IT systems also means there is less chance of unexpected problems and expenses from arising. This allows you to manage your cashflow with more predictable costs.

You may have the idea that on-boarding an external team of highly skilled IT professionals would be expensive, but in many cases it can actually save you money.

#4. Access the latest technology skills, knowledge and systems

One significant benefits of outsourcing your IT to a Managed IT services provider is having access to their up-to-date IT skills, knowledge and systems. This can play out in a number of ways:

  • You have access to a whole team of IT experts, with a broad range of skills, experience, qualifications and expertise, all included in your monthly support costs. You don’t need to be reliant on one internal “IT guy” to have the adequate skills to fix every issue that arises.
  • A quality managed IT provider will be on the forefront of technology knowledge and trends, so they can keep you updated on the most necessary changes relevant to your business.
  • Should you require further recommendations with regard to technology (for example, relocating your office premises or scoping out a new project), you will be able to seek advice from your trusted IT partner who understands IT as well as your business systems and goals.
  • A Managed IT partner can work with you to ensure your cybersecurity strategies are in place and your system firewalls and defences are up to date, so your data and business stay secure.
  • A quality Managed IT Support provider will use the latest and best technology in their own business in order to monitor and maintain your IT systems, so you be sure your business is in the best and safest hands.

#5. Managing Your IT Vendors and Suppliers

Along with access to the latest technologies, a Managed IT services provider can share their network of product and service vendors with you, obtain the best deals, and communicate with vendors on your behalf. They will also have specialty product knowledge, understand the specifications and know what technology your business needs to meet your requirements.

Spoiler alert, the latest tech on sale at a retailer like JB-HiFi may not be the most economical or best-fit for your business!

Dealing with vendors can be overwhelming, but a good Managed IT Support provider will be experienced in liaising with vendors to help with purchases, as well as troubleshoot issues on your behalf. Your IT provider can streamline all communications and assign subject matter experts to handle each task.

The benefits of outsourcing to a managed service provider

Technology is a huge part of running a business and is a vital factor in determining the success of your short-term and long-term objectives. Having a set of expert eyes to take important IT matters off your shoulders is a smart initiative that can bring many benefits to you and your Organisation.

Interested in learning more about outsourcing your IT Support? See how we can help.

It’s fair to say that you’ve invested a lot in your IT support team. If you have an IT support team in house, then you’ve spent time and money recruiting them, training them, and developing them with the hard and soft skills necessary to perform at a high standard. You’ve spent money on computers, software, desks, all sorts of gadgets you may not understand, and of course plain old (but not plain cheap) floor space in your office. If on the other hand you have decided to outsource IT support you have made a big investment in other ways, not least of all the decision of which IT provider to place your trust in. You have made the commitment to bring these people into the ‘inner circle’ of your organisation to provide services to your people that are at the core of your business’ daily activities, and continue to invest in the relationship with every interaction.

Having made such a commitment to your IT support team, you need to ensure you get the most from the investment. Here’s how.

Communicate Openly

Your IT people want to help, they really do, but they can’t work in a vacuum. No one will argue the benefit of ensuring that IT is properly aligned with the business, but a lot of people still seem mystified by how to make this happen. In my experience it’s actually very easy. You just need to openly communicate with IT what the business strategy is, and how the business will benefit from IT involvement.

You may think that your IT people don’t need to know about your marketing strategy refocus, or about the gradual shift underway towards just-in-time inventory in the packaging warehouse, but if I position the question another way – how can you expect them to align their efforts with the business if they don’t know where the business is heading?

Keep your IT people up to date on where the business is heading, and they will do everything in their power to keep IT aligned with that vision too. If you feel this isn’t happening, then talk with your IT people about it. Don’t assume they have no interest in the business, and are only interested in their computers. You may be surprised.

Involve them Early

Your IT support team may appear to work magic at times, but rest assured they do not actually have super powers. When considering a new corporate initiative, make sure you include your IT people in on discussions at an early stage. This way they will be able to offer the benefit of their knowledge and experience to help the project move forward effectively.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve seen IT brought into projects (both big and small) late in the piece, only to be the unwilling bearers of bad news as they share why the current project plans will hit technical problems. No one wins in this situation. The IT people look like the bad guys, and substantial investments of time and money spent in planning have been wasted and need to be redone.

By looping IT in on discussions at an earlier stage the project team will have the benefit of their knowledge early on, and will be able to plan the project accordingly, avoiding any unnecessary surprises further down the track.

Nurture the Relationships

Whether you have your own IT people on staff, in your office or offshore, or via an outsourced arrangement with a managed IT service provider, your IT people are just that – people. As such they will flourish and bend over backwards to please you the more that they are made to feel welcomed, and valued members of your team.

Despite the popular adage, IT people are not mushrooms to be shut in a dark basement and fed….mushroom food. They are people who love to help, and engage, and feel appreciated, and the more you can make them feel this way, the harder they will work to help you and your business.

Like any working team, your IT department will flourish under the right conditions. They may be able to achieve more than you dreamt possible and show you the best possible return on investment if you keep them in the loop on your business direction, involve them early in project planning, and nurture your relationship.

Outsourcing IT support to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help your business stay up-to-date with the latest technology and remain competitive in today’s challenging business environment. What’s more, it can do all this while cutting your in-house IT support costs and freeing up your technical staff for mission critical tasks.

Once you commit to outsourcing IT support you will need to plan ahead to make the transition as smooth as possible. While your chosen MSP will bring their own expertise to this transition – this is what you hire them for, after all – you can still help them help you.

Here are five suggestions on how to successfully outsource your business IT support.

1. Work closely with your Managed Service Provider

Every business structure is unique – from your sales processes and supplier networks to your staff organisation and customer relations – and your IT support needs will reflect this. So, when you engage an MSP to outsource IT support, you should make sure that they know exactly how your business works and what your IT needs are. In order to ensure the best service possible, you will need to work closely with them and clearly communicate your goals.

This will mean sharing your business strategy, your plans for future growth, and any current IT weaknesses and competitive threats. Your MSP’s role is to provide you with the best IT support tailored to your business needs, as well as to proactively advise you on possible tech innovations that can help your business achieve its goals. They can only do this if you treat them as an integral partner in your business plans.

2. Focus on Value, Not on Cost

When looking for a Managed Service Provider to partner with, you should look for the most cost-effective service provider, but not necessarily the cheapest. This means an MSP that can provide you with the best service at the best possible price, and not simply the lowest-priced option.

You don’t need an MSP that provides the bare minimum of outsourced IT support, but rather one that proactively brings ongoing value to your business, and actively supports customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Keep this at the forefront of your mind when you select an MSP partner.

3. Engage senior stakeholders

You should treat the transition from in-house to outsourced IT support as a mission-critical task. A poor implementation process could seriously disrupt your business operations, not to mention inconvenience your own clients.

With this in mind, it is important that you do not delegate the task of overseeing the transition to a junior office manager or receptionist, who will then have to act as a go-between to get the job done. This adds unnecessary links to the chain, and fosters miscommunication and error.

Instead, you need your Managed Service Provider to work directly with the key stakeholders within your business. These are the senior staff who fully understand your business strategy and IT needs, and are familiar with the day-to-day operation of your business. They will bring their own expertise and authority to the outsourcing transition, and will also help bring your entire staff on board. They’re busy people of course, but if you prioritise the transition, then they will ensure it runs as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.

4. Trust the experts

As with any transition in business, one of the biggest challenges with outsourcing IT support can be in helping your staff manage the organisational change. This can be especially challenging where formerly in-house expertise is being outsourced.

You will probably have at least one member of staff who is involved in managing your IT services, and they should be one of your key stakeholders engaged in managing the outsourcing transition. One of the biggest difficulties in managing that transition can come about when your staff take a defensive position and start second-guessing and overruling the MSP team. This can be highly disruptive, leading to poor outcomes, and wasted time and resources.

As you’re paying for the professional services of an MSP, you should give them the trust to make the changes they deem necessary, obviously with input and final authority from your key stakeholders. This will provide the most cost effective and efficient IT support possible.

You should make clear to your staff that they need to listen to and trust the experts. This can be a difficult balancing act, as you will need to do this while still empowering your team. Change management is a delicate skill, but one certainly worth mastering.

5. Communication is key when outsourcing IT support

Clear, productive, two-way communication is key to any successful business relationship, especially so when outsourcing IT support. A professional MSP will implement the appropriate channels to make sure any client and/or staff feedback reaches the right people in a transparent and timely manner. Reciprocal communication is essential here and you will need to keep all channels open and productive.

  • If there’s a problem, make sure your MSP knows about it promptly and is given the opportunity to address it.
  • If everything is going great—tell them!
  • If you’re not receiving enough reports, or the right information, discuss a reporting schedule.
  • Ask your MSP how the relationship is going from their side, and what you can do to improve things.

To start off on the right foot, you can agree a policy with your Managed Service Provider that sets out your communication expectations during the outsourcing transition, as well as outlining what information needs to be communicated in both directions. Your MSP may be offsite, but they still need to be integrated with your organisation.

In today’s competitive world, a professionally-managed IT support service is much more than just an outsourced call centre. The main takeaway is to think of your MSP as an integral part of your own business structure. The key to successful integration is a productive and proactive attitude towards collaboration. With both your in-house team and your outsourcing partners working as a unified whole, and integrating their day-to-day working relations, you will be giving your business the best chance of success. Work as a team with your MSP and your business will see the benefits for years to come.

Whether you are a Digital Transformation powerhouse, or you provide the best Tree Lopping services in Brisbane, technology is integral to the success of your organisation. This is especially true for small to medium businesses where margins can be thin, and the market competitive. To remain agile it’s critical to extract the most out of your technology. One way to do so is to engage the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) to provide outsourced IT support and services.

What is a Managed Service Provider?

A Managed Service Provider is a company that gives organisations the capability to outsource their IT service delivery requirements.  In other words, an MSP is essentially your IT department. If something breaks, they are on the other end of the phone to make things work again. A good MSP will also actively keep an eye on all systems, proactively resolving issues before they even impact business.

A great MSP will invest the time to learn your business deeply enough to make recommendations and actively partner with you on enabling your team to achieve their goals.

When do I need a Managed Service Provider?

All businesses need IT support to some degree. These days it’s just part and parcel of doing business. Some organisations may be able to get by doing their own IT support, or perhaps only calling on an IT expert from time to time when things really get out of hand. But irrespective of how you currently manage your IT, at what point is it time to level up and engage with an MSP?

Here are some common signs it might be time to investigate whether engaging an MSP would be valuable for your business.

You don’t have a dedicated IT department or IT staff member

It’s probably fair to say that there are many businesses operating with one person wearing a multitude of hats, one being the “IT guy”. The problem with this is that, while this person is probably more tech savvy than the average bear they are probably not up to date with the latest IT developments. It’s also probably a significant challenge for this busy person to balance the IT needs of the organisation whilst also remaining productive at their core job. Ultimately this leads to IT only receiving reactive attention when absolutely necessary, and a clear loss of focus and productivity from the lucky person.

You could hire a dedicated IT person (which is undoubtedly a better option than folding IT responsibilities into an existing role within the organisation), but not only is this a significant investment, what if your IT person gets sick or needs to take leave? Add to this the challenges of not only recruiting, but supporting, management and developing a lone IT staff member, and this option can often prove a poor investment.

Instead of hiring your own in-house IT staff, you could consider using an MSP who can give you the benefits of a full IT department at a fraction of the cost. Your employees can focus on your core mission and you can rest easy knowing that your IT demands are being professionally managed.

You experience ongoing technology headaches

When the systems we use on a daily basis break down, business owners very quickly realise that the technology powering their business is incredibly complex. If the technology under the bonnet in your business is constantly experiencing problems, there is a good chance that this is significantly impacting your staff happiness, customers experience and of course your bottom line.

Partnering with a quality MSP can take you from a reactive, painful break-fix cycle to a situation where you are empowered to plan your IT Strategy and benefit from reduced maintenance and replacement costs. A quality MSP will take a proactive approach to the maintenance, patching and monitoring of your technology and make business-focused recommendations on how to improve the business through technology (rather than selling you the latest technology, with its relevance to the business as an afterthought). Proactive is always a better, more economical option than being reactive.

Your IT costs are unpredictable

It can be challenging to budget effectively for your IT requirements. Some months you might have to replace a laptop, while others may see you need to stump up for a new server or address a critical security incident that needs to be dealt with immediately. This is an even harder task for smaller businesses.

The ability to budget your IT services on a monthly basis makes planning how to spend your valuable dollars much easier. As well as more predictable costs for your services, your systems are actually kept in better working order and will last longer with professional programmed maintenance. The right MSP will be able to work with you to understand your business requirements and stabilise your IT spend over the medium term with forward planning and budgeting.

What types of Managed Service Provider pricing models are available

Each Managed IT service provider will price their IT support contracts differently, however there are some common approaches that most MSP’s work with.

Per Device

This is a tried and true pricing model where customers are billed a predictable flat fee for the  monitoring and maintenance of specific devices, such as laptop and desktop computers, servers and even mobile devices. The predictability and flexibility of this model is attractive to both customers as well as the MSP. Potential drawbacks could be in situations where customer organisations may have numerous devices used by the same employee.

Per User

The per-user pricing model is similar to the per-device pricing model, with the difference being that the flat fee is billed per end user per month and covers support for all devices used by each end user.

Tiered

The premise of the tiered managed service provider model is to build bundled packages of services, starting from a basic package and becoming increasingly more expensive based on providing more comprehensive services.  Some companies use names like Bronze, Silver and Gold for each level.

As an example, a “Bronze” managed services package may include basic phone and remote support for an entry-level price. Bumping up to the higher priced “Silver” desktop managed services package, which may include proactive patch management and scheduled on-site visits, and the “Gold” package may include around the clock emergency after-hours support.

All You Can Eat

Sometimes referred to as “cake” pricing (whereby you buy the entire cake, rather than the individual components of eggs, flour and icing) this model provides a comprehensive service and the MSP essentially becomes the outsourced IT department of the business. The comprehensive suite of services is certainly valuable to the customer because it provides specialist industry experience and advice, but it doesn’t require the business owner to commit to their own permanent IT department when the business environment and their needs evolve over time.

How do contracts with MSPs generally work?

Before embarking on employing the services of a Managed Service Provider, an agreement will generally be drawn up to protect the client and the MSP and ensure clear communication between the stakeholders.

Most MSP agreements will generally answer the following questions:

  • Who: Who are the parties involved? Of course, there is the MSP and client but are there any other third party entities in the picture?
  • What: What services are being provided? What devices are covered? Arguably more importantly, what isn’t covered under the agreement? What are the expectations in terms of access and resources to facilitate the MSP in being enabled to deliver the required level of service?
  • Where: Does the provision of services entail remote delivery or are on-site services included as well? If on-site is not covered, what is the hourly rate to do any on-site work? What client locations are included?
  • When: What are the hours of operation? What are the Service Level Agreements for response time, resolution?
  • How: What is the process for customers to submit a service request? How are issues escalated? What are the terms of payment for the account?
  • Baseline

How do I choose a Managed IT Service Provider?

You need an MSP that is up to date with your technology.

Your Managed Service Provider should be on top of all technological aspects of your infrastructure. They should be able to discern and have a record of which updates need to be implemented, and what hardware needs to be replaced when necessary. They should also have systems in place that ensure the technicians looking after your infrastructure are kept up to date and informed.

You need an MSP that focuses on optimising your technology investment.

Your Managed Service Provider should be consistently evaluating the health of your infrastructure, ensuring that all systems are appropriately patched and secured, validating system utilization, recommending changes and upgrades to software and hardware when needed. They should be offering constant reviews on the overall status of your IT operations to ensure you are match fit. The true value of your MSP will be recognised not only by your technology being maintained at optimal performance and stability, but in enabling and empowering you to focus on your own core business and what really matters.

You need an MSP who works in a strategic partnership with your organisation.

Your Managed Service Provider should want to develop a strategic partnership with your organisation to ensure long term success for your business. An MSP should always have a top-level view of your entire IT infrastructure and how it relates to the operation of your business. In addition, your MSP should be able to respond and react to changing business conditions, and provide consultative advice to IT priorities and challenges that can affect your business even if they’re not currently responsible for it.

In short, a strategic partnership with a quality Managed Service Provider should enable you to plan and budget for your main IT expenses, rather than falling into a costly and unpredictable break-fix cycle. When you find the right MSP to suit your business needs, you will be able to focus on your core business, confident that your IT systems are running smoothly and proactively managed.

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