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What is an MSP? (And why should you care?)

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is an individual or group that you can contract to outsource a variety of tasks or processes. IT service providers are probably the most common MSPs. In this capacity, they perform all the necessary functions of an internal IT team.

The decision for small and medium-sized companies to outsource IT services is typically, initially driven by budgets. Small teams can’t afford full-time resources but need some level of attention to their IT infrastructure in order to minimize security risks. These teams leverage an outsourcing model to get the type of IT support they need.

Outsourcing is flexible. You don’t need to commit to hiring a fulltime resource, and you can end the contract when you are ready to hire a fulltime resource. The relationship with an MSP can also grow as the company grows, which means it is scalable.

Sometime the decision to contract an MSP is driven by an IT emergency. When a server crashes and the IT guy is on vacation, or an end user inadvertently downloads malware, you realize just how important the “behind the scenes” IT processes are to your business.

Business as usual may sound boring but disruptions to your business that create downtime can significantly impact your relationships with your customers. If your systems are frequently down, I may opt to go with your more reliable competitor.

IT needs ownership. As the leader of your organization, you may not want to own it, but you need to make sure someone does. Its too important. Contracting with a reliable and competent MSP can alleviate the risk while also minimizing the cost. There are various levels of service that might make sense for your situation. Depending on your business model, the size of your team, and the technologies you use, you may choose anything from minimal monitoring to 24/7 help desk support.

Most IT MSPs will be happy to discuss your needs and develop a practical plan. Whether you have a two, twenty, or two hundred employees, there are plans out there that will make sense for you. Depending on your situation, you may find an MSP that specializes in your industry or the types of technologies that you use.

Contracting with an MSP is strategically important when IT touches any part of what you are selling. For example, if you are selling consulting services, the channels you use to communicate, collaborate, and reach out to prospects and clients will be impacted by your technology infrastructure. Make sure it is having a positive impact. Evaluate some MSPs and choose one to be the owner of IT for your team so you can get back to what you do best!

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