What is Managed Services and Why is it Right for You?

Managed Services Diagram

The term Managed Services has become more prominent lately.  If you’re a business owner, chances are that you’ve heard this term more and more.  As more entrepreneurs decide to start their own businesses, many of these owners realize the “IT Realm” they use is the lifeline to keep them going.  Whether it’s communication, storage, data, transactions, or anything you can dream up, IT has taken over the tired method of pen/paper and drawers of files. It makes things quicker and easier.

So what happens when you realize that this needs to be a number-one priority?  This moment comes when you realize that if(when) something goes wrong, you’re losing money.  I remember the first conversation I had with a possible client about Managed Services.  His solution, at the time, was a family friend who he hired on as his accountant.  He had a decent background in IT, and when something needed fixing, he would help out.  That worked out for several years, until his business had grown quite a bit larger. He began hiring more people and opening more offices throughout the city.  While this growth was wonderful, his Accountant didn’t feel the same.  The larger they became, like a double-edged sword, the more IT-related issues reared their ugly heads.  Now, there was his Accountant spending hours, days, even weeks trying to fix each problem that arose—all the while neglecting his primary job: accounting. After this ritual had gone on as long as the poor accountant could handle, this possible client reached out to me. we had what was apparently a long-overdue discussion.

Understanding Managed Services

But what is Managed Services, really? “As a definition, Managed Services allows a business to offload IT operations to a service provider, known as a Managed Services Provider. The managed service provider assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, managing and/or problem resolution for the IT systems within a business.” Managed Services has become popular as there has been a shift in thinking as technology progresses. As with our poor accountant, common systems of thought needed to change from the long-practiced ways to something more practical. They refer to this tired method as the Break-Fix mentality.  It is just as it sounds, if it breaks, fix it. This worked fine for decades, until technology became crucial. What happens now when something breaks, and you have to take the time to fix it? Are you losing money, opportunities for new business, and for HOW LONG?

Managed Services shifts thinking into the 21st Century, being proactive about the technology you are running to allow your business to run its standard day-to-day.  It’s really a philosophical change in thinking. Managed Services takes the realistic approach that things happen, things break, and they will need replacing.  It’s not “what if” but rather, “when.”  Having this mindset is the most productive way to think; planning helps you prepare, and have a procedure in place when a problem does happen. Unfortunately, it’s just true that things can sometimes go very wrong and things go down. There’s no fool-proof way of preventing everything; however, if you are prepared, chances are you’re going eliminate quite a bit of that downtime as opposed to getting surprised and then frantically trying to get a fix.

Why is Managed Services Right for You?

Here’s what’s probably the most important to take away from this. You may be thinking that this could be an unnecessary cost.  Well, I can tell with almost complete certainty, being prepared in the proactive sense of Managed Services will cost you much less than handling emergencies after they occur. The analogy I heard from my pediatrician as a kid strangely holds true here, “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.” Working with a Managed Service Provider allows you to knowingly budget for this security.  Having your “IT Realm” constantly monitored is ideal: when something comes up (notice that? WHEN), you’re being actively monitored. These issues can usually become quick fixes before they turn into a huge problem. Usually these can be corrected without affecting any of your productivity.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have your trusty employee who accidentally clicked on something he shouldn’t have. He sees a blue screen come up, and he shuts the computer off and goes home for the evening. He doesn’t think any more of it. While you’re at home eating dinner, this virus is running through your entire network. The next morning, you get to the office and turn on the computers.  EACH screen comes up with full-page note asking you to pay $500 within 2 hours or you lose your information. It might even go a step further, your press the power button and the PC doesn’t get passed the boot screen. How much is Managed Services worth to you then?

Something to think about. Until next time-

Alex Hoosz, PEI

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