A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that manages a range of IT services and infrastructure on behalf of an organisation. These services typically include network, cloud, security and communication solutions managed and monitored in a proactive manner. As the maintenance, updates and infrastructure are usually handled by the managed service provider this gives organisations the benefit of a centralised single point of contact for their IT services; reduced CAPEX by virtue of the move to a subscription model; and the on-demand ability to tap into the additional pool of expertise available from the a managed service provider. What are managed services?Managed services can encompass various IT solutions. Some managed service providers specialise in specific solution stacks such as hosting and some focus within specific industries (such as healthcare, financial markets, retailers). Predominately managed service providers offer remote management and monitoring of IT infrastructure, with a range of services that:Covers the maintenance of your IT solutionProvides a predictable OPEX modelMonitors and alerts you when there is an issue with your servicesKeeps your IT environments up-to-date with critical patches, fixes, and updatesProactively upgrades environments to ensure systems and networks are working optimallyRemotely deploys and fixes issues from a central point decreasing any downtimeWork to SLAs for system availability and timely, efficient support Why is there the demand for managed service providers?Organisations are having to rapidly react to business challenges faster than ever to grow and to exceed their customers’ expectations. Adapting, innovating and ensuring the reliability of services are all dependent on an organisation’s ability to transform.A managed service provider absorbs those daily tasks that take up IT team’s time and resources, freeing them up to focus on driving business value solutions, reducing the time to market and simplifying business growth.By working with a managed service provider, organisations can tap into additional talent and expertise that can help them transition and harness new technology, with the assurance that their systems and infrastructure are being managed and optimised. Benefits of using a managed service providerThe business benefits of using a managed service provider are many and varied. Organisations typically align their outcomes with their objectives, so they can benefit from a clear ROI from their partnership with a managed service provider. Some benefits seen are:Supplier consolidation – managed service providers maintain relationships with multiple vendors and harness the buying power across their customer base to drive greater cost-efficiencies for their clientsMonitoring – managed service providers have an operation centre that monitor the connections and systems 24/7/365. Alerts are from network nodes and continuous scans of systems allow issues to be resolved quickly and effectively, reducing downtime for organisations.Cost savings – organisations tend to benefit from reduced service costs, operational costs and lower IT operational expenses. This allows internal teams to increase their productivity and focus on business improvement initiativesPredictable costs – as managed service providers charge on a subscription-based model, organisations are able to budget and plan for predictable growth and ensure they remain within budgetAssured SLAs – ensuring that issues get fixed within certain timescales or uptime requirements are met are assured through the application of service level agreements (SLA), providing peace of mindScalability – the subscription, pay-per-user model used by managed service providers allows you to scale up or scale down your services in-line with usage, seasonality and growth ensuring maximum efficiencyPlanning – as managed service providers have a talent pool of solution architects and close relationships with major vendors, you can be involved with strategic IT roadmaps and harness the best of new and innovative technology within the market How to choose a managed service providerRange of services – obviously the managed service provider must be able to meet your immediate requirements, but what about the rest of their portfolio? Do the services they offer allow you to expand into the partnership as circumstances change and as you look to grow?Customer service – how are issues flagged and recorded? If your service encounters an issue you want to be confident that your interaction with the managed service provider has been logged and tracked as it gets resolved.Account management – partnering with a managed service provider should be about growing a working relationship and ensuring you are getting the most out of your systems. Regular reviews with dedicated account managers help drive that optimisation processSLAs – do the service-level agreements meet your requirements? How quickly will the managed service provider respond to required fixes, how do they communicate outages and how will you be compensated if SLAs aren’t met?Availability – what is the availability of the support services on offer by the managed service provider? Your business may be 24 hours a day, a provider that can fix and support you should be available 24/7/365Accreditations – consider if you need to ensure that data governance needs to be met, how your customers’ card and payment details are transacted or if their environment standards mirror those of your organisation. Accreditations can highlight and help to whittle down the managed service provider you needCase studies – are there customers that are happy to talk to you about their experiences? Are they in your sector? It’s this sort of feedback that can give you an invaluable insight into how they workAlignment – does the provider understand what your trying to achieve and what the service will deliver for your end users and organisations? If the managed service provider can demonstrate this knowledge, then they will see the strategic alignment of a service and the value it will bring. Do you want more help selecting a managed services provider? Feel free to reach out to our team to see how we’ve helped other organisations grow and align their business goals with their technology solutions.