SMBs are faced with a myriad of challenges on a daily basis:
- Generating revenue
- Servicing clients
- Managing employees and other physical assets
- Navigating an ever-increasing regulatory burden
Technology is moving forward at an incredible pace, adding heightened expectations from customers who compare the technologies employed by SMBs against their larger rivals or other industry leading organizations with which they interact. SMBs need technology to operate efficiently. They need it to match the expected uptick to worker productivity, and to increase sales.
As reliance on technology grows, the resources available to support an increasingly complex technology environment may not. Internal or part-time technology resources can be quickly overwhelmed with the responsibility of keeping day-to-day infrastructure up and running – let alone able to keep up with the learning curve required to add new technologies, manage security threats and provide insights to grow the business and increase customer satisfaction.
What are the options?
1)DIY – In a very small business, the owner may feel they can adequately handle the daily tasks of system maintenance and development. The risks with this approach are business interruption and missed opportunity costs. When you’re spending time on technology, you’re missing the opportunity to do what you do best – service your clients.
2) Break/fix – Most people know “a guy” with substantially more knowledge than them. Bringing this resource in periodically as events occur is often perceived as the least expensive route. If an external IT resource is the only person with knowledge of your systems, the business owner will pay a premium for their services. Availability and predictably of costs are also concerns (how can you budget for unknown problems?), but the greatest one is that ‘break/fix’ does not provide a proactive, forward-looking solution. Your technology will be stuck at a single moment in time, one that recedes into the past as the calendar moves forward. New opportunities and threats will appear and you will have to deal with them reactively, further impacting your ability to grow.
3) Hire a technology FTE – Depending upon the nature of the technology environment, a full time specialist can be considered. This can be cost prohibitive for an SMB, as trained, talented IT professionals can command $90K salaries plus benefits, along with onboarding and ramp up costs associated with an employee. In addition, these FTE’s need training to stay on top of new opportunities and technology issues. For more midsized firms, an FTE is great solution, but these people are quickly relegated to break fix & support roles, which is often a poor use of their time. The business would also need to purchase tools for their FTE such as: a ticketing system, monitoring and remote access, automation and scripting, antivirus, and antispyware.
4) Hire a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) – MSPs act either as your outsourced technology staff, or as an extension of an existing internal IT department. Think of them as an IT department as a service. (ITDaaS) In either case, the MSP is charged with taking care of routine IT infrastructure monitoring and management around the clock— freeing the business owner to concentrate on running the business with fewer interruptions due to IT issues, or the IT staff to focus on higher-value projects. Top tier MSPs come day 1 with ticketing systems, standard operating procedures, internal training, antivirus software, and multiple staff including management. They are expected to remain ahead of technology issues and get ahead of opportunities for increased compliance, improved productivity and customer technology expectations, and reduce your risk by keeping you on top of compliance issues in your field. Whether a standalone solution or as support to your internal IT team, an MSP is a monthly fixed cost you can budget for and, quite easily, create an ROI model to show value and impact to your bottom line.
Start by outlining your technology and growth needs.
MSPs offer a wide range of services to manage specific areas and functions, such as storage and related management services, or desktop management and help desk services. Some provide management services for server hardware, operating systems and support for applications such as e-mail. Many provide onsite services as required, but may have limited regional or local coverage areas. Many deliver security and compliance services specific to your industry and, in this regard, can provide peace-of-mind and decreased risk well above their monthly fees.
When considering an MSP, think first about your needs. What are the gaps, pain points and inefficiencies in your technology environment? How much do you want to own and manage? How do downtime, outages and other complications impact your business? What are your compliance and security risks and fears? Where can new technologies support growth and improved customer satisfaction … leading to increased sales/usage and referrals?
With your requirements top of mind, evaluate all the above approaches to determine where your IT needs fit and how and where technology can help you meet your business goals, both present and future, with a proactive approach to your IT infrastructure.
If you’re looking for help creating a business case for outsourcing your IT – simply contact your BCS representative. We’ll help you identify the value and ROI for hiring an MSP.