If a colleague has uttered the letters “MSP” during an IT conversation, you’ve probably already guessed that it means Managed Service Provider, not Member of the Scottish Parliament!

But like so many acronyms, whilst it describes what’s in the tin, it doesn’t tell you why your business will be the better for buying the tin in the first place – let alone consuming its contents!

So we trawled the web and polled our customers to assemble what we hope is an honest potted guide to what an MSP is, what it does, and how it helps businesses – like yours – find solutions to IT pain points.


What does an MSP actually do for you?

Tech dictionary Techopedia tells us here that MSPs “monitor, supervise and secure outsourced network or application procedures on behalf of the organizations that are using those services.”

In plain English: instead of your business having to spend time, effort and expensive IT resource monitoring, configuring, updating, upgrading, securing and fixing its IT infrastructure, you pass this responsibility to an external provider – the MSP.

The MSP connects you to the necessary applications, data and hosting (cloud apps like Office 365, security solutions, backup services, network management tools, etc.), keeps an eye on their performance 24/7, and provides skilled technical support if issues arise.

In essence, the MSP makes IT a hands-off yet ever-present service in your business.


MSPs solve your IT and business pain points

This move to a set of IT services that are managed for you delivers measurable business benefits, too, in the shape of:

1. Dramatic cost savings

Industry publication IT Pro recently identified a typical small and medium business (SMB) in-house IT spend of £548,000, as opposed to £94,000 or less for equivalent services delivered by an MSP!

A multiple as decisive as that suggests there are significant savings to be made whatever the size of your business.

2. Improved cashflow

Forget upfront software licence fees – MSPs generally charge a (much smaller) monthly fee for provision of core services, which is far less burdensome from a cashflow point of view and greatly simplifies your budget and cost management.

3. Better productivity, efficiency and profitability

Three truths:

i.   Every minute you spend fixing IT issues is a minute not spent on your core business activities.

ii.  Every minute your IT team spends fixing IT issues is a minute not spent on IT innovation that advances your core business activities.

iii. Many smaller business don’t have an extensive IT team (or even any IT team at all) in the first place, in which case, return to point i., with knobs on!

All this adds up to a tremendous brake on productivity and efficiency, which in turn impacts profitability.

But pushing this work out of your four walls in the direction of an MSP can reverse this drain on your business’s performance, as this managed services article explains.

4. Support, maintenance and security – proactively!

The secret sauce in the MSP recipe is the ‘M’ that’s missing from the acronym – ‘Monitoring’!

MSPs don’t work to the traditional break-fix model of IT support (i.e. wait until it’s bust then charge you to come and fix it).

Instead, they use Remote Monitoring  and Maintenance (RMM) tools. These enable them to continuously detect and remotely resolve issues with your networks and security, often before they cause impact or downtime.

For any support requests that do arise, MSPs not only give you access to technical experts, but do so within guaranteed response times through their SLAs (Service Level Agreements).


Making IT your servant, not your master

But perhaps the most strategically important service an MSP can deliver to your business is taking your IT to where it needs to be now and in the future, driven not by the dangling carrot of the latest vendor solutions or temporary industry trends, but by the genuine risks and opportunities that your business plan creates.

It follows, then, that, a good MSP will sit down with you and spend significant time and effort getting under the skin of your organisation, to align the IT roadmap with your business priorities as your systems, networks, employee base and customer book grow – but also to work seamlessly with the existing IT investments you’ve already made.

Every business, after all, whatever its size or sector, is different.

So, why does your business need to buddy up with an MSP, again?

Well, cash savings, profitability boost, enhanced efficiency, reduced downtime and up-to-the-minute security all seem like good reasons to us.

Tell you what, why don’t we talk about it?