Managed IT Services Providers (MSPs)

Outsourced IT support, maintenance, & management for small businesses

What’s an “MSP”? As a definition, managed IT services allows a business to offload IT operations to a service provider, known as a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP).

The MSP assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for the IT systems within a business. The MSP offers functionality including alerting and integrated ticketing, automated recommendations, remote control, patch management, antivirus updating, reporting and more.

As a professional managed IT services provider (MSP) supporting Los Angeles-based small businesses since 2010, Silverleaf can be the “outsourced IT department” for your business. We take the burden of IT off your plate, and stabilize your IT environment to keep down-time and breaches to a minimum. We take the guesswork out of IT decisions, and catch technology problems before they impact your business.

Should you hire an MSP? Even for the most tech-savvy of businesses, evaluating managed services providers can be a complicated and challenging endeavor, and not all MSPs are created equal (or necessarily a good fit for your company’s IT needs).

This article will help you navigate the decision-making process for a managed services engagement, and provide a framework for “asking the right questions” to ensure that you are making an informed decision.

Managed IT Services VS. the break-fix mentality

Just like larger companies, small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) need technology to operate efficiently and to compete effectively. But as reliance on IT grows, the resources needed to support this increasingly complex IT environment may not. In many small businesses, IT resources are limited and can be quickly overwhelmed.

If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as backups, patches and security, the odds greatly increase that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business.

For instance, if your file server, customer relationship management system, or financial application goes down, or there’s more serious problem like a network outage or security breach, you will likely face substantial productivity and revenue losses as a result.

Instead of following the old-school tradition of “break-fix” service (which literally means waiting until the server, desktops or other critical systems break, and then scrambling to fix them), a modern small business should take a proactive approach to managing their technology.

Managed IT Services are a philosophical change in the way that a business deals with its technology.

Which type of maintenance do you currently have?

If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, you are utilizing a break-fix methodology to maintain your network, and may benefit from a Managed IT Services methodology:

  • Do you have a reliable, trusted IT service provider and consultant ready when you need them?
  • Do you find out immediately if your data back-up fails to run?
  • Do you know which equipment on your network is aging and might need replacing in the next 6 months?
  • Do you know if your server and all of your desktops have the latest anti-virus updates installed and are functioning correctly?
  • Do you know if the latest security patches have been installed on your network?
  • Do you know who the heaviest Internet users are, and whether they are downloading large files which can slow down the network, or accessing inappropriate web sites?
  • Do you know which PCs are running out of memory and storage capacity, affecting user performance?
  • Do you have one number to call for all of your technology service requirements?
  • Do you only hear from your computer guys “after” things break? (if you hear from them at all?)
  • Does your network feel like it’s running as fast as it could?

Why break-fix is no longer good enough for your business

A break-fix maintenance service fixes problems as they crop up. This means that something needs to go wrong before you receive any service, resulting in inevitable and costly down-time while you wait for the problem to be fixed.

Today, no business can really afford the risk and uncertainty of relying on break-fix maintenance service because your business is too dependent on having a reliable IT system. Furthermore, with the daily operation and support of your IT infrastructure under control, you will be able to work on more valuable IT projects that improve business efficiency and competitiveness.

Why are so many IT support companies now promoting Managed IT Services?

Because it puts the IT support company on the same page as the business they are serving: both parties have the right incentives to achieve the goal of a reliable business IT environment.

With traditional break-fix services, the only way for an IT support company to make money is if something goes wrong — which is always a double-edged sword. If they do their job too well, they’re out of business, which happens to about 80% of all small IT firms — they just don’t make it.

Do Managed IT Services Cost More Than Traditional Break-Fix Services?

Actually no! Surprisingly most managed services cost less than traditional break-fix services, especially when including the true cost of downtime.

Remote monitoring, remote maintenance and the prevention of major issues allow a Managed IT Services Provider to be more efficient than a similar break-fix company who is constantly travelling (and sitting in bumper-to-bumper Los Angeles traffic) to visit customer sites.

Therefore, the Managed IT Service provider can offer a better service delivered remotely without charging more.

Silverleaf PRIME I.T. for Business is our unique managed IT services plan for small businesses (see our Plans & Pricing).

Do Managed IT Services cost more than in-house IT support?

For small businesses, the answer is no. While hiring an employee to maintain your IT systems may seem like a good idea, for many small businesses it’s an expensive and inefficient choice.

The total annual cost of employing a talented IT professional can exceed $50,000 – and that’s not including taxes or benefits. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll know exactly what skill set is required to run your systems – if you make a hiring mistake, your new hire may have to spend a large amount of time “learning on the job”, or worse.

A good analogy is email: you wouldn’t pay to maintain an on-premise email server, because Google (or Microsoft) have the resources to do email much better (and cheaper) than you ever could in-house.

The same is true for hiring an in-house employee to do your IT: there’s a good chance he/she just won’t be able to do IT as well as a Managed IT Services Provider made up of a diverse team of tech professionals.

How are Managed IT Services priced?

Managed services providers usually price their services on a flat-rate monthly basis. Depending on the services included in the program offered, pricing is usually based on the number of devices, with different packages priced at different levels.

Some providers offer on-site customer support as an extra fee, and some charge additional hourly fees for service that is not “covered” by their plan.

Basic services often start with a monitoring service, which notifies the ”you” of problems, which you resolve on your own. At the upper end of the spectrum, service providers offer fully Managed IT Services that cover everything from alerts through problem resolution.

So adding another monthly fee wasn’t exactly what you were looking for…?

We can clearly understand and relate to that mode of thinking. In this day and age it feels like every company we deal with is trying to figure out a way to squeeze more money out of us — especially on a monthly basis. Managed IT Services is not immune to this change in business climate.

But that being said, Managed IT Services is not just a short-lived fad, or a way for IT companies to fatten their wallets. Managed IT Services is a way for businesses to eliminate problems before they ever occur, manage their IT budgets better, and create a solid long-term partnership with an IT firm that is protecting one of their most important assets… their data.

The Real Benefits Of Managed IT Services

Put in simple terms – one of the biggest benefits of Managed IT Services is discovering and fixing problems before they can negatively affect your business. Common benefits include:

  • Increased operational efficiency.
  • Reduced operating costs: businesses are able to control and reduce their overall operating costs with the flat-fee billing model. Cost-effective access to enterprise-level support is a finally a reality with Managed IT Services.
  • Minimized downtime: a well maintained, proactively serviced computer network will always run better than the alternative. With proactive network monitoring, patch management, and desktop optimization performed on a regular basis, you will notice a tremendous difference in operations… and you will reap the benefits of preventing fires, rather than fighting them.
  • Allows the focus to be on running the business, and not the technology.
  • Peace of mind from knowing that the network is monitored 24/7/365

If you’re a growing small-to-medium business in search of a reliable IT service provider, chances are that one of our Silverleaf Managed IT Services plans is a good fit for you!

More information

Interested in getting IT help for your small business? See our Plans & Pricing, then Get a Quote plus a FREE consultation & assessment.

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