The Benefits of Managed IT Services in 2021

Hand holding tablet with cloud technology and dark concept

When it comes to your business technology, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best. Unfortunately, technology is one facet of running a company where many business owners feel they have the least amount of control, perhaps due to its many moving parts and overwhelming complexity. The question becomes one of how you want to approach managing your business’ technology and finding the right skill sets to do so. Enter the benefits of managed IT services.

You generally have two options for your IT needs: hire an in-house department or outsource the responsibilities to a third party. Which approach best suits your needs?

Hiring an in-house department of IT technicians can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Just like with any other position at your company, you will have to put together the job description, duties and responsibilities, and preferred requirements. That’s not to mention the time it takes to advertise the position, collect resumes and applications, put together a search committee, and interview successful candidates. Add in the onboarding process and any training that they might need and you have a lengthy process that is not necessarily conducive to the “I need help right now” mode that many organizations find themselves in with their IT.

The alternative is to outsource your entire IT department to a dedicated third party. Believe it or not, this is a remarkably valuable asset for your organization to have. Plus, most IT maintenance and management can be done remotely without an on-site visit, meaning that you are not limited by the traditional barriers to finding top talent. You could work with a reputable company halfway across the country if you want to, and you can afford to be picky with who you hire for the job.

Note the key difference between your in-house IT talent and outsourcing. Hiring an in-house IT department is dependent on other peoples’ qualifications rather than what you want for your IT needs. When it comes to your business, you should do what you think is best for your specific needs, and if that is outsourcing to find the best fit for your company, then you should never be ashamed of that.

We always recommend that you start with an IT audit to ascertain where you currently are in terms of your IT infrastructure versus where you want to be. 4 Corner IT is happy to help with this process. After we gauge your current network infrastructure, we can work with you to identify your company’s major IT challenges and implement solutions that address them.

Or, if you would rather hire in-house technicians, we can supplement their duties and responsibilities by covering the more mundane parts of the job, like supporting your team and performing routine maintenance. This frees up valuable time and resources for your technicians to focus on what you hired them to do: innovate and implement. It does not matter where you currently are in your IT processes–we can jump right in and provide value for your company.

To learn more about our benefits of managed IT services, reach out to 4 Corner IT at (954) 474-2204.

Use These 5 Steps to Implement Your Business’ Technology

Implementing new technology into your IT infrastructure is not something that can be done without serious consideration. If you skip the planning process, the last thing you should expect is for things to work out in your favor. Start by weighing your organization’s specific needs, then consider all of the ways that those needs can be met. Today we are going to discuss how you can make all of this happen in the easiest way possible.

The process, as you might expect, is a multi-layered one. Start with a business needs analysis, then transition into identifying technology that addresses these pain points, how you will afford said technology, focusing on what your business does well, and calling upon the feedback of employees to strengthen the implementation.

Analyze Your Business’ Needs

Understanding your business’ needs should come first. Be sure to consider what challenges your business must tackle moving forward, as well as how you might overcome them. We want to emphasize one point: only implement new technology solutions that solve problems for your business. If you are too liberal with the employment of new technology, your infrastructure could grow in a negative way, making it more difficult to administer maintenance and keep things up-to-date or in proper working order.

Consider the Price Point

As a small business owner, you know all too well how large costs can set you back, especially with investments in new technology solutions. This makes it significantly harder to budget for. While you could implement new technology by paying for it up-front, there is value to using the “as a service” model for new solutions, as well, many of which provide services based on a monthly payment model. Since these products are scalable, they can be easily budgeted for.

Lean Into Your Strengths

On a micro level, you already do this by delegating duties to your employees based on their roles within your organization, but on a macro level, you can do something similar with your technology solutions by putting your efforts into investing in technology that augments these strengths. One example is the business that prides itself on customer service. This type of business can provide even better service by utilizing help desk solutions or instant messaging chats. Basically, you supplement what your business is already good at with technology that makes doing that even better.

Ask Your Employees

If you are stuck on where to implement technology, you can always get feedback from your employees. Consider asking them what challenges they face and how they can be addressed. You can use this information to implement technology that helps them perform their day-to-day duties in an easier and more efficient way. This approach also helps to give your employees a voice within your organization, which is a value that you cannot underestimate.

Work with a Managed Service Provider

If you are not sure how to address any of the above, we can help your business approach implementing new technology solutions by doing so with intention. To learn more about how you can reach your business goals, facilitated by technology, reach out to 4 Corner IT at (954) 474-2204.

Aspects of Managed Services Support

aspects of managed services support

Managed services and break-fix services play essential roles in supporting your business in IT-related matters. Small and medium entities face tough choices in deciding between the two aspects and complementing IT resources as well as personnel in place. 

Managed Services vs. The Break-Fix Mentality

Just as the name suggests, the Break-fix mentality interacts with your business only when you experience IT problems. 

The vendors of break-fix services send IT professionals to your location to provide remedies at your business location. 

After finding a solution to your IT problem, you are charged for the services rendered. The break-fix services have no ongoing fees and do not tie you to any contracts.

On the contrary, managed services entails outsourcing service providers that share the responsibility for your IT system. 

It creates an extensive and continuous relationship between your business and your service provider. 

Such services work off your business premise and use their systems to supervise and deal with identified IT problems. Mostly, the problems are identified before you experience any system outages. 

Why Break-fix is No Longer Good Enough for Your Business

Below are the main reasons why the break-fix mentality is not any good for your business. 

Subdues Productivity

When you use this model, you are forced to assign your IT needs to your employees. Since this might be a good idea in the short term, it reduces the level of productivity and leads to wastage of resources. 

Cost

In this IT model, you pay for labor, repairs, and consultation. It is impossible to budget for the issues, and there is no reasonable way of establishing whether you are paying a fair price. 

Besides, there are no preventive measures that you can put in place to avoid any problems in the future. This leaves you susceptible to surprise system breakdowns and costs. 

Extended Downtime

In this model, when you experience an IT problem, every minute costs you money. The sporadic nature of this model leads to extended repair time. The extended downtime and the additional repair time increases the cost making it undesirable.  

Do Managed Services Cost More Than Traditional Break-Fix Services?

Managed services cost more than break-fix services. Managed services involve the provision of a recurrent service, which translates to recurrent expenses. 

The services differ based on your business’s needs though it is vital to be proactive in using IT services to achieve business objectives. 

When you use this IT model, you accrue higher upfront fees, monthly subscription fees, and monitoring fees. 

Engaging a managed service provider increases the level of visibility and your capability to establish robust IT strategies. In as much as it is effective and creates accountability, the services cost more than the services rendered in the break-fix model. 

How Are Managed Services Priced?

All businesses want to minimize costs, but that is just one factor you need to think about. Therefore, you need to understand all the pricing aspects of IT services models before you make a decision. 

Managed IT services pricing is based on the following.

  • The number of users
  • Risks Involved
  • Your needs

The price of managed services depends on the monthly cost per user, the coverage, the number of specialists, and the extent of coverage. 

The level of support included and your levels of business that the support is designed for affects the pricing of managed services provided to you.  

The Real Benefits of Managed Services

The benefits of managed services are clear. The model provides IT services to every aspect of your business. As a result, your entity achieves higher standards of IT services. 

Implementing managed services in your business offers several benefits, including:

Enhanced Productivity

Outsourcing IT functions dedicate in-house IT experts to projects that promote innovation and enhance achievement of set objectives. 

Promotes Scalability

Most entities find it more useful to start small and expand according to the growing needs. Managed services make it easy for you to scale either up or down and increase capacity depending on the scope of changes in your business needs. 

Keeps Pace with Your IT Demands

When you outsource IT services or partner with skilled IT professionals, you alleviate the pressures associated with keeping pace with the dynamism of technology. 

Contact us for professional advice on the best IT model for your business.

What is Included in a Managed Services Agreement?

what is included in a managed services agreement

A managed services agreement is a contract between a provider of managed services and a client. It creates ties of the service level between the parties and records the primary understanding regarding different aspects of the deal. 

The agreement represents different aspects of your engagement, including:

  • Response times
  • Service-level agreement
  • Limitation of liability
  • Termination clause
  • Clarity of outline of support tiers
  • Service escalation process
  • Phases of setting priorities
  • Labor rates

Below are the things that need to be clearly outlined in your managed services agreement (MSA). 

Services

You need to identify the elements of the services covered, including supported IT services  and those not supported by your managed services provider (MSP). 

You need to ensure that there is clarity on your responsibilities and those of the service provider. 

By clearly outlining the services not covered in the agreement, it prevents any likelihood of holding your service provider liable for any incidents not outlined. A clear outline of the services allows your service provider to work for issues outside the agreement. 

Terms and Conditions

Identify the provider of managed services and their contact information during and after working hours. The agreement needs to stipulate the pricing, terms of payment, and the duration of the contract. Also, it clearly outlines the date when the contract starts, ends, and when it auto-renews. 

Termination of Agreement

The contract between you and your managed services provider outlines the rules of termination, the need for adhering to regulatory requirements, and the owner of the data once the contract ends. 

Length of Warranties

The agreement includes the specifications of the hardware used and the information regarding different types of hardware used in implementing a managed services model. 

Authorization of the Managed Services Provider

The MSA provides extensive information on the licensing of your provider and SaaS.  

Backups

The contract specifies the terms and the length of incremental copies and the total number of copies. 

Limit of Liability

The MSA outlines your confines on instituting legal proceedings for negligence against your provider. Also, it includes information on risk allocation by your provider. 

Insurance

Aspects of cybersecurity insurance are included in the MSA. It covers the level of coverage for your managed services provider. Also, it outlines aspects covered and not covered in the insurance policy. Your MSP needs to give extensive information on any potential liabilities. 

Definitions of Terms

The contract explores the meaning of different terms for all parties. It includes terms that are specific to the entity, providing managed services to your business. 

Discretion

The managed services agreement includes other agreements including the:

  • Licensing agreement
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Non-disclosure document
  • Non-complete document for your provider’s employees 

Assignment Clauses

The document considers the contractual obligations of both parties and specifies the responsibilities and rights that can be transferred. 

Illegal Behavior

The MSA includes a plan of action of prompt reporting to the authorities in case either party notices prohibited behavior. Also, it emphasizes that you are expected to follow a certain course in notifying the authorities. The list includes the major aspects included in a managed services agreement.

Contact us to help you develop an agreement that is satisfactory to both the parties and facilitates the growth of your business.  

3 Critical Services Your Current IT Support Is Missing

3 critical services your current it support is missing

It’s always fun for IT guys to see people in the financial industry marvel at Bitcoins and their fluctuations. Here in IT, fluctuation and change are the norm.  A significant service can be a lifesaver now but give it a few years, and it will be completely null.

Herein lies the problem. In IT, things change fast, and businesses that don’t adapt to these changes are flushed down the toilet. This is why choosing an IT Support is a daunting task. The service spectrum is broad, and needs are always changing, and it’s always difficult to tell if your IT service provider is providing you with the best services, or leaving some vital things out of their checklist.

Your IT service provider may be missing the following boxes on their service provision checklist:

Cloud Cost Optimization

The internet always seems free for everyone except for IT firms. Your internet provider may be intentionally or unintentionally, making you pay way more to the Cloud Service Providers than you should. Statistics show that most companies spend about 36% more than they should be paying to their Cloud Service Providers such as AWS.

Most IT businesses lose out on massive savings by outsourcing their Cloud Management to IT Service Providers who overlook cost optimization. To these providers, just getting you to the cloud is an accomplishment, even if your business has to spend fortunes to use it.

There are a plethora of actions your MSP should be undertaking to cut your cloud costs significantly. Your IT service provider should be:

  • Using or be heavily invested in Cloud analytics
  • Integration of Auto Scaling To reduce costs
  • Using AWS cost optimization tools
  • Power Utilization Practices such as Power schedules
  • Right-Sizing Of Computing Services
  • Use of Spot instances when necessary

Contingency Plans and Security

Once you have outsourced most of your IT service requirements to an IT firm, the security and safety of your data and the customer’s data becomes a priority. The two most essential things in security are contingency plans and constant improvement. Though most MSPs invest heavily in security, very few offer “Plan Bs” when the ceiling caves. Failure to plan, in IT more than any other industry, is planning to fail.

  • Your MSP should have:
  • Clearly laid out Disaster Recovery Plans
  • Insurance in case of a Cyber Attack
  • Extensive and Secure Backups for your data

In terms of constant improvement, your IT service Provider’s security plan should always be evolving. Security in IT is not a destination but a journey. Malware is continuously changing and improving, and so should your IT providers Security Plans. Your IT provider should be keeping up with the following cybersecurity and malware trends:

  • Increase in instances of Ransomware
  • Third-party Cryptomining
  • State-sponsored cyber attacks
  • Artificial intelligence in cyber terrorism

Regulatory Compliance

For years now, it was assumed that the web and IT were beyond regulation. Well, the amount of regulation in IT has significantly increased for two fundamental reasons. Governments and regulators have spent the past few years catching up. Also, the rise of IT and its growth has seen IT expand into uncharted territory and industries increasing its influence. This has called for more regulation.

Navigating the regulatory landscape is an essential service your MSP needs to offer. Some of the past, present and future regulations that have been lorded over the IT industry include:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union
  • Consumer Privacy Act in California (CCAP)
  • The Biometric Data Law in Illinois
  • Consumer Online Privacy Right Act(proposed Bill)
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
  • To show how a lack of regulatory compliance can cost a business and how fast the regulatory climate is changing, YouTube was recently fined $170 million for violating the COPPA regulations.

Regulation in itself is a noble idea, but it may lead to massive losses in money and time if neglected. Your IT provider has the responsibility of preparing you for future regulations and how they will affect your business. Your IT provider should be able to

  • Extrapolate your current investments and plans to see if they will be legally viable in the next ten years or so.
  • Align the services they offer to ensure that they comply with present and possibly future regulation.
  • Assure the privacy of your IT firm and the data of your customers and staff.

Though it’s true that the IT climate is always changing, we here at 4 Corner IT have always been changing with it. For any inquiries about IT and Custom solutions on your IT needs, contact us and let us be part of your story.