Every business is expected to be a digital business. Customers want digital channels of communication, and employees expect digital tools. Without the ability to tap into customer data created online, you will lose market share to more digitally adept competitors.
The pressure to digitise has created a scramble that leaves some businesses over their heads. Small companies benefit from agile flexibility. They also suffer from an inability to dedicate large amounts of resources to business functions that are not directly tied to their core value proposition to customers.
By partnering with outside experts, small businesses can boost their productivity, match the technical capabilities of competitors with far deeper pockets, and take their natural agility to another level.
This is our guide to how small businesses can take advantage of managed IT services and prosper in the digital future of business. So, let’s get started!
Access an on-demand IT team
Essentially, this is what managed IT services are. There’s no need to hire an entire IT team; you get access to a team whenever you need them. If a problem arises, then they step in to provide expert solutions and keep your business on the right path. However, they don’t form part of your in-house team.
This is particularly great for small companies that don’t have a constant IT need. Instead of hiring individual people to make up an IT team that you don’t technically need, you can scale up and get the services you require exactly when you need them.
Consequently, this can save you a tremendous amount of money. On average, it costs around £60,154 per year to hire one IT consultant. In fact, it costs more than that because this is just the average salary for this type of job! When you need to hire a full team of IT experts, you also have benefits packages to take into account. With managed IT services, the costs are more, well, manageable!
Get the cutting-edge IT resources that you need to compete
Aside from just getting an IT team, you get to enjoy the benefits of a talented team that provides you with an excellent IT infrastructure. Going back to the point made above, you have access to intelligent and experienced individuals that you’d probably never be able to afford if you hired them for your in-house IT team.
Therefore, you receive the very best IT resources. You’re assisted by professionals who can provide you with whatever IT you need, as soon as you need it. To make things even better, you don’t even need to understand how to maintain the things they give you access to. It’s all taken care of by managed IT services, which allows you to punch well above your weight and compete against much larger businesses.
In essence, you remove one of the main weaknesses of a small business: your lack of resources. You can then mix your agile strengths with the capabilities delivered by large infrastructure and team investments that are well out of your reach.
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Stay focused on your customers
When you don’t have access to managed IT services, it falls upon your shoulders to deal with a whole range of IT stuff. Did you know that this can take up several hours of your working week? The stats show that 63% of workers spend between 15 and 45 minutes a day helping colleagues with IT issues. In turn, this adds up to nearly 4 hours per week per employee.
One of the excellent things about managed IT is that you eliminate all of this wasted time. Instead of worrying about IT things that don’t really deliver anything valuable to your customers, you have more time on your hands.
How to pick the right Managed IT services
By now, it should be evident that managed IT services can help small businesses in multiple ways. However, there’s one critical point you must consider: how do you choose the best service provider?
Well, we have a few crucial things that you need to look at before you come to your decision:
Service level agreements are a vital part of paying for managed IT services. Basically, they tell you what services a team will provide for your business. Spend a lot of time scrutinising the SLAs to ensure that the service provider can cater to your specific needs. Ideally, they should also include the option to remove or add new services to the agreement if and when you need them.
Look for transparency
A transparent service provider is usually a trustworthy one. Think about it, you’re trusting them with a significant part of your business. Therefore, you need assurances that they can handle your workload and will be there for you when you need them. So, a company with transparency will lay everything out on the table for you to see — metaphorically speaking! They’ll make it clear to you what services they offer, how much they cost, and how ‘on-demand’ they really are.
Small businesses have changing needs. In the beginning, you may want to outsource all of your IT to a managed service provider. But, as you grow, you may realise it helps to have a small team in-house, then use managed IT services to take care of specific aspects for you. The very best managed service providers will be flexible and can adapt to your different needs.
Comprehensive service offering
Of course, you need a provider that offers a comprehensive service. Not only should they provide software support, but it helps when they offer hardware support as well. The more things a provider can do, the better. After all, it makes sense to hire a provider that has multiple strings to their bow and can juggle a plethora of tasks.
Again, your ideal choice will be a managed service provider that’s willing to enter a long-term partnership. This can lead to discounts down the line, but it mainly assures you of a high-quality service. When you partner with a company for many years, they get to know your needs and can adapt and react quicker. As such, you’ll find future issues are ironed out almost instantly as your provider has got to know your company.
One of the potential drawbacks of outsourcing is a lack of communication. So, you need a managed service provider who is always there when you need them. No matter the time of day, it should be easy to get in touch and communicate with them. Likewise, they should always offer clear communication that lets you know what’s going on and what they will do.
The ability to deliver outcomes and help you develop solutions
Just getting maintenance right is good — but you need IT experts to help devise the best plans and deploy the right technology for the job. People who understand your industry and the available choices can deliver far greater value than someone who is just there to do their ‘day job’.
Consider all of your business needs before you pick a managed IT service
It is clear that managed IT services are necessary for small businesses who are looking to grow. They can substantially benefit your business by improving processes and increasing work efficiency. If you do decide to eliminate all the common IT pain points by hiring a managed service provider, ensure you go through the points detailed above to get the best one.