What to Look for in Managed IT Support Services

Managed IT Support Services: What to Look for in a Managed IT Company

As your business grows, it’s only a matter of time before managed IT services become an essential part of your business operations. When efficiency is your goal, but you don’t have all the resources in-house to manage all of your IT needs, that’s where managed services come into play. Managed IT will save you time and money by augmenting your existing IT team and infrastructure, but it’s important to vet potential companies before jumping into a contract.

Keep reading, because this article will outline all the important factors involved in choosing the right managed services provider (MSP).

They should be IT experts

An IT team is responsible for strategically viewing, assessing, and implementing technology into a business’ IT environment. This requires expertise because a large portion of IT tasks will center on security and smooth networking operations, both of which are complex.

They should take advantage of new technology

One of the best benefits of using managed services is not having to spend a bunch of money on new technology, but still reaping the benefits. Since MSPs service a variety of clients, they’ll have that new tech when it comes out and it will be put to use for your business. This alone will save you plenty of money and no matter how many new technologies they use to get the job done, you’ll still only have to pay your regular monthly fee.

They should know your industry

Although managing IT services for any business will follow the same general format, your managed IT provider should at least be familiar with your industry, but it’s ideal if they’re an expert at managing IT for your industry.

If your business is regulated by data privacy laws, like HIPAA, they’ll need to be compliant in order for you to be considered compliant. The more rules and regulations your business falls under, the more important it is for your managed IT vendor to have experience in your specific industry.

You should get flexibility

Not every business will have the same needs, so it’s important for MSPs to provide their clients with customized services. You should be able to choose the services you want so you don’t end up paying for services you don’t need. Each service should also come with levels, when appropriate. A good managed IT service provider will scale their services up or down to meet a company’s needs.

24 hour monitoring is crucial

Your IT systems should be monitored 24/7, 365 days a year. This will be done through a combination of manual monitoring and automated threat detection. The automated systems will be put in place and if anything sets off an alarm, it will be routed to someone from the IT team to investigate. Threats should be handled immediately before they have time to get further into any of your systems.

Lightning fast response times

Unlike an in-house IT team that goes home at night and is off the clock when they leave the office, a great managed IT provider will be available around the clock. No matter what time it is, if you need something, they will be there to respond.

A great managed IT provider will have a guaranteed response time and it will be quick. While they will probably have team members around the world to ensure their availability, they won’t just forward your calls to a random call center. If you call for support, you’ll always be speaking to someone from your managed IT team.

They take security and testing seriously

Regular penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are a must. While the vulnerability scans will uncover some weaknesses, pen testing will dive a little deeper using methods hackers might use to uncover even more and then attempts to exploit them. This is the easiest way to find weaknesses in your system.

Some aspects of security testing are automated, but often there is a manual component to pen testing, and a good managed IT team will do both. They should also have automated threat detection set up to catch cybercriminals before they get very far with an attack.

They take backups seriously

Daily backups with a recovery plan are essential and are one of the most important benefits of hiring out your IT services. No matter how easy it may seem for you to manage your own backups, it’s not as simple as it looks. A backup is worthless if the data can’t be restored, and creating useful backups involves more than just saving files to a hard drive. You also need to save databases, software applications, and operating systems all in a format that is easily recoverable.

For example, say your website is built on WordPress and all you do is save copies of all your web page content to a hard drive. If you lose your site, you’ll have to rebuild it from scratch, starting with all the settings that took you hours to complete in the beginning. Then, you’ll need to load the content for every page and blog post you’ve ever published and upload every image individually as you format your pages.

A usable backup will export your entire website, including the database and images, so that when you need to restore your site you can simply create a new database, load it, and re-upload your images and files by the folder to your server.

There is also a specific process for saving entire web hosting accounts so they can be restored with a few clicks, operating systems, and software. So make sure your managed IT provider will be backing up your files regularly in a format that can be easily restored. Most importantly, they should also test your backups at least once a quarter to make sure they can be restored.

You’ll get onsite support if necessary

Not every business needs onsite IT support, but if you do, you should definitely hire a local managed IT company that will come to your location when needed. Although many tasks can be done over the internet, including firmware updates and some troubleshooting, it’s worthwhile to have someone who can be physically present for tasks like setting up a new network, troubleshooting physical equipment, and looking for ways to improve the efficiency of any tech systems you’re using.

Basically, if there’s something an in-house IT team would normally take care of in the office, but you don’t have an in-house IT team, you need a local managed IT vendor who will do it all.

They will work with your IT budget yearly

One sign that you’re working with a great managed IT company is their willingness to sit down with you and help you plan your technology needs for the future. You can leverage their expertise to create yearly plans that will help you save money while meeting your needs for growing your business.  

They will manage all third-party vendor relationships

Need a service your managed IT provider doesn’t directly offer, like special software? A great company will find what you need if you don’t already know and they’ll manage that relationship for you. You won’t have to do the research yourself to find a handful of vendors and then try to vet them all. You can leave all that to the experts.

They will train your employees

Whether it’s hosting a cybersecurity 101 course, a routine refresher, or a briefing on how to use new software or hardware, a good managed IT team will be available to support your team with education and information. Sometimes that looks like scheduled Zoom meetings and other times they just need to be available for quick questions by email, phone, or a ticketing system.

Remember, if your employees are slowed down by anything from a technical glitch to a lack of knowledge, there will be a cost on the back end. Managed IT should be just as available for support as an in-house IT team.

Services include disaster recovery

Disaster recovery planning is one of the most fundamental and crucial aspects of running a business. If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan, it won’t take more than one incident to take your business down.

According to the data, 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of a cyber attack or data breach. That should scare you – unless you have a disaster recovery plan. With a a solid plan, you’ll be able to get back up and running in record time, even if you’ve been hit by ransomware that has your devices locked.

When you have a disaster recovery plan along with usable backups, you can basically ignore even the worst cyber attacks and rebuild from scratch. You won’t have to even consider paying a ransom while hoping the hacker will give your data back. You might need to reformat some hard drives or buy some new machines, but in the case of a disaster, you won’t have to deal with losing important files that can’t be recreated.

Maintenance is proactive

Proactive maintenance is fixing problems before they become a disaster. For example, running software updates immediately after they’re released can help you avoid preventable cyberattacks from hackers looking for vulnerable software to exploit. Each time a new vulnerability is discovered, hackers scour the internet for installations that have yet to be updated.

Every minute counts. A proactive Managed IT team will jump on installing updates and patches without hesitation, or they’ll remind you if it’s a task only you can complete.

Managed IT levels up your profitability

Managed IT services provide a host of benefits, including saving time and money, avoiding preventable IT disasters, and being your go-to resource for IT help. All of these benefits will contribute to increasing your bottom line, so don’t wait to connect with a managed service provider. Get all of your tech needs handled so you can focus more of your attention on taking your business to the next level.

Chief Revenue Officer at Software Development Company
Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue-generation activities for marketing and software development activities. He has helped to scale sales teams with the right mix of hustle and finesse. Based in Seattle, Washington, Tim enjoys spending time in Hawaii with family and playing disc golf.
Timothy Carter