Small to medium-sized businesses may lack the resources or budget to set up an in-house IT department, but that doesn’t mean they need one any less than an enterprise organization. There are several reasons every business needs IT support, including strategizing for digital transformations, scaling and future-proofing the company, offering exceptional customer service, and maintaining security. Businesses are dependent on technology to provide customers 24-hour access to their services and maintain connections through social media and other online outlets. Lacking IT support is a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately, companies can save money and resources by outsourcing their IT needs through either professional or managed services. The key difference between the two is how often they’re available. With professional services, you’ll pay for one project at a time. Managed services are on hand 24 hours a day, and they’re usually purchased as a subscription. Here are some common uses for each.
IT solutions offering professional services can help your business with one-off projects that are simply too big to handle yourself. Deploying new hardware is a common example, as is installing and troubleshooting new software solutions. Professional services can make a transition to new equipment as seamless as possible while ensuring your employees know how to use it effectively. Professional services can also be good for troubleshooting needs if technical problems arise, especially if they aren’t common.
One of the best reasons to seek professional services is if you’re planning to move your systems to the cloud. There are many benefits of cloud migration including easy scalability, improved cybersecurity, and easy data recovery. You’ll also save on the costs of maintaining a data center since that will no longer be necessary.
The biggest advantages of professional services are their versatility and cost-effectiveness so long as you only need occasional IT help. The biggest drawback is the lack of future maintenance support.
Managed service providers (MSPs) provide constant IT support, typically as a subscription service. MSPs may offer more options than a small business needs, or they may not be cost-effective if you rarely need IT support. For everyone else, though, MSPs are a great value. Here are some of the most important services they can offer.
Preventative Maintenance: Since MPSs can monitor your servers and firewalls at all times, they’re able to detect issues as they appear and start work on fixing them right away. This keeps your business as efficient as possible since you won’t have to wait for something to break to know it needs fixing.
Provisioning: MSPs can help you automatically provision new users, such as new employees, in your system. With role-based access control, new users will be assigned roles based on their position and will be granted an appropriate level of access for that role. Once a user leaves the company, their account can automatically be deprovisioned to eliminate potential security risks. Identity Access Management: Speaking of access, an IAM system is necessary to authenticate users trying to log in to your system and authorize their access. This can be done in a few ways. A popular option, especially with cloud-enabled systems, is single sign-on, which allows users access to all authorized resources with a single login. If you want additional security, you can add multi-factor authentication, which requires two sets of credentials. An example could be an employee smart card in addition to their login ID and password.
Unified Communications: An MSP can help you combine all communication channels into a single system, meaning you’ll have unified access to voice calls, instant messaging, emails, voicemail, and more. This makes it easier than ever to maintain effective communication with employees and customers.
Whether you should use managed or professional services will depend on your needs, but there are plenty of great options out there for any business.