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The Benefits of using a Managed Services Provider
Added by Michael Cummins of Computer Assistant
Thursday, June 17, 2010


The recent economic turmoil has put tremendous pressure on organizations to explore ways to reduce costs across all areas of their business—and IT is no exception.  Although most companies have implemented some level of technology to improve staff productivity, the cost of maintaining and supporting computer systems and ensuring continual end-user satisfaction can be significant.  

Fortunately, there are now attractive alternatives for small and mid-size businesses (SMB) to significantly reduce their IT budgets while simultaneously improving the uptime, effectiveness and satisfaction of their investments in computers and technology. 

SMB’s are typically limited to three types of models to manage and support their computers

The first model is to invest and build out an internal IT Department.  This option is by far the most costly to setup and maintain. Most organizations will need to budget about $120,000 for just a single IT support professional.  In the Washington DC marketplace, an experienced senior tech will command an annual salary of $80,000-$100,000.  With benefits ($10,000), overhead ($5,000), training ($5,000), recruiter fees ($15,000) and required software tools and equipment ($10,000)—these costs quickly grow.  Given the high demand for quality IT staff in our area, finding, managing, retaining and developing your technical person can be a difficult and time consuming process.  Furthermore, based on industry standard turnover rates for IT staff, you will need to restart your recruitment process every two years!

Another alternative is to outsource the support of your IT department to a sole proprietor or independent IT consultant.  This initially attractive low cost alternative can actually be very difficult to make successful.  However, these individuals can easily be found online, or through a referral from a friend or colleague. 

Their resumes may contain many industry “buzz words” but their experience and skills are often focused on just a few technologies. More importantly, their limited resources do not allow them to scale to the cyclical needs of your business and they have few resources to respond to the ongoing demands of more than one account at one time.   Furthermore, almost all have not made the substantial investment in system management tools and applications and are therefore unable to offer Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). As such, you should be prepared to churn through several people before securing the one you feel can adequately support your business.

A final alternative is to outsource your needs to a dedicated IT Support company or Managed Services Provider (MSP).  This option will save you 30-50% of the cost of the in-house model yet you will receive higher levels of service and response than either of the other support models.  There are many variations on this model and you need to be diligent in selecting a partner that has a comprehensive service offering that can respond to your varied IT support needs and requirements.  

It is recommended to select a company that offers fixed-fee pricing,  utilizes a team of IT professionals that each perform specialized tasks and roles, has staff members with multiple technical certifications,  leverages industry leading technologies to effectively manage your environment,  has documented best practices processes and procedures, performs regularly scheduled onsite visits combined with unlimited remote support as well as a trusted partner that can recommend and successfully implement new technology in support of your business goals and objectives. 


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