IT Solutions 101: What Is a Managed Service Provider?

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Apr 15, 2019

Apr 15, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Worldwide IT spending is expected to hit $3.85 trillion this year. Whether it is small business or large, companies are spending a significant part of their budgets on IT.

As a business owner yourself, you’re wondering if you’re spending that budget in the most efficient way. Your in-house team is great, but they’re having trouble keeping up with security. The IT department’s budget is increasing year over year, and you’re still not on top of the to-do list.

If this sounds like you, it could be time to consider partnering with a managed service provider.

If that term is completely new to you, this guide is for you. You’ll learn what an MSP is and what they do. Most importantly, you’ll learn how they can help your business.

The Role of a Managed Service Provider

What is a managed service provider? It’s a common question from business owners.

The answer to the question can vary a lot too. Generally speaking, an MSP company is one that delivers IT services on a long-term basis.

One reason for the variation in definition is that there are many types of IT services you can outsource. Some common types include:

  • Network monitoring and management
  • Security
  • Helpdesk support
  • Storage
  • Email
  • Application and software management

There are other services you can turn over to an MSP as well.

How an MSP is Different

Looking at this definition, you might think managed services are the same old IT services.

MSP does differ from other models of IT delivery and service. The model most people are familiar with is break/fix. With this model, you call IT providers in when something breaks, and they fix it.

MSP doesn’t wait for something to break. Instead, a managed service provider takes a proactive approach to IT delivery. They track your IT and provide a proactive solution.

A great example is the delivery of IT security. With a break/fix provider, you’d wait for your systems to be breached. You’d then call the provider in to fix the problem.

With an MSP, the breach shouldn’t even occur. The MSP will watch the environment. They’ll apply updates and patches, in addition to scanning the system.

With these preventative measures in place, you’ll hopefully never deal with the costs of a breach.

Pricing for Managed Services

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is an MSP?”, you’re wondering if you can afford one.

The answer depends on a few factors. Your budget and the services you want to have managed are two.

The good news is you’re likely to find a provider in your price range. There are many MSPs out there, and there are almost as many models of pricing.

Some MSPs charge a flat fee per device or per user. A per-user pricing system allows users to have many devices.

Other MSPs will use what’s known as the all-you-can-eat model. This is a form of all-inclusive pricing. Under this structure, you’ll be charged a single fee for everything the MSP has to offer.

Most managed services are subscription-based. You’ll pay a monthly fee for service under the provider’s pricing model.

This pricing model has advantages for both MSP and your business. You know exactly what you’ll pay for IT services on a month to month basis. You don’t need to deal with the shock of a sudden IT project that crops up.

The MSP benefits from a steady revenue stream. This makes it easier for them to provide you with the same level of great service month after month.

Growing with MSPs

The monthly subscription model works well because it allows for greater flexibility. If you need more services, you can scale up. If you need to cut back on services, that’s easy to do too.

Looking at MSP Contracts

Getting the right pricing for the right services is crucial when you work with an MSP.

Most MSPs offer a contract agreement for their services. The service level agreement states exactly what you’ll get from the provider. It also defines the metrics you’ll use to measure performance.

The contract will also detail the pricing, as well as the length of service. MSPs prefer long-term relationships. You may pay on a monthly basis, but your contract may be for a year or longer.

Terms differ between providers. Be sure to evaluate MSP contracts carefully. Check the fine print and be sure you understand exactly what you’re getting.

If you’re not sure about the terms, ask the provider to clarify. Be on the lookout for services that aren’t included or extra fees.

Don’t forget you can negotiate a contract. If there are terms you’re not satisfied with, ask for revisions. If the contract still doesn’t suit, compare SLAs from other providers.

The right MSP provider and plan is out there.

When is Managed Services the Right Choice?

Another question business owners often have is how they can know when partnering with an MSP is right.

Each business is unique, so you’ll have to consider your own IT needs. If you have an in-house team that performs quite well, managed services may not be the right choice.

If you don’t have the expertise or your IT could use an upgrade, it might be time to consider a partnership. If you want to save some money in the IT budget, managed services might be the right choice.

Managed services can help you save time and money. They can also help you create more IT efficiency in your business. Better IT may even impact on productivity.

Keep in mind that many small and medium-sized businesses work with MSPs. Getting great IT services isn’t just for large companies.

The IT Services You Need

You rely on your IT. Working with a managed service provider can be the right move for a business, no matter how big or small.

Looking for information about jobs in the IT sector? Check out our blog to learn more about the different professionals who provide businesses with great IT services.