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Like any modern business, you rely on software and systems to help you and your team keep the business running. All the different parts of your IT infrastructure need maintenance to avoid system downtime and lost productivity, and that’s where managed network services come in.
If you’re a small business without the internal resource to stay on top of your system needs, an NZ managed service provider may prove to be a valuable partner.
In this article, we’ll explain what a managed service provider does, and the pros and cons of partnering with an MSP for your network needs.
What are managed network services?
As a term, “managed network services” encompasses a great range of software, networking applications, functions and system infrastructure that is outsourced to and maintained by an external organisation called a managed service provider (MSP).
An MSP’s services can range from simple LAN or WAN network access and data transportation to optimisation, cybersecurity and firewalls, unified messaging, network administration and virtual private networks (VPNs).
Working with an MSP is both an advantage and a potential risk — as is always the case when entrusting core parts of your business to a third party. That’s why finding a managed service provider you can trust is important.
Looking for more? Learn how to find the best managed service provider in Auckland.
The benefits of managed network services
MSPs have a lot of value to offer businesses of all sizes, but especially small to medium businesses that may lack the budget and resource for in-house IT management. Cost, expertise, proactivity, operational efficiency and new technologies are all key areas where MSPs can provide value.
1. Managed network services save you money
An in-house IT Manager’s average salary sits between $110,000 and $180,000 a year. Conservatively, let’s assume a small business would require just one IT professional.
Meanwhile, an MSP may charge around $150 per user, per month. For a company with 50 employees, that adds up to just $7,500 a month, or $90,000 a year.
That alone is already a significant saving, but then you can add the bargaining power and vendor relationships of an MSP to extend you greater discounts on your technology and software.
On top of that, you can add no (or lower) office space and hardware costs for your in-house IT teams, as well as the ease of scaling as your business grows.
2. Managed network services give you access to expertise
It’s not news that New Zealand is struggling with a digital skills shortage. Hiring IT staff, especially at management levels, was already hard before COVID-19 and border and travel restrictions have only exacerbated this.
When it’s already so hard to hire the staff you need, it’s hard to argue against outsourcing to a trusted, local MSP. You can access a whole team of dedicated professionals without the costs or challenges of hiring.
3. Proactive MSPs prevent crises
A good MSP is proactive. That means they aren’t just patching leaks as they’re sprung, but actively reinforcing your firewalls, identifying and addressing threats before they’re too close and keeping your systems up-to-date.
The work of a proactive MSP can be the difference between continued customer trust or a severe data breach.
4. An MSP keeps your business ticking
Operational efficiency is a big deal. The easier it is for your staff to get their jobs done, the simpler it is to bring money into the business and drive the outcomes you’re aiming for.
MSPs can help to optimise your operational efficiency in many different ways. By proactively addressing network issues and equipping your business with the right systems, your MSP can help your staff work smarter and faster.
Your MSP can also help to reduce downtime of your systems for continued productivity. Finally, if you have an existing in-house IT team, an MSP can free up their time spent on menial issues so they can focus their attention on projects to move your business forward.
5. MSPs keep your business technology ahead of the game
In-house IT teams often find themselves getting the budget and time they need to introduce new and up-to-date technology entirely too late. As a result, they get caught in a game of endless catch-up, with new functionality being introduced just in time for the business’ needs to change again.
A great MSP will think about your business goals and ensure your technology is always able to support not just where you are today, but where you’re going tomorrow.
The disadvantages of managed network services
There are a lot of strong arguments in favour of managed network services, but like all good things they don’t come without some risk.
1. Physical presence
One of the best things about an in-house IT team is that they’re on-site, so they can provide direct tech support to your staff without any middlemen, waiting on hold or call-outs.
The physical presence of your IT team is both a blessing and a curse, as it does come with the associated costs of salary, office space and technology. Some businesses may prefer to maintain an in-house team so their IT support doesn’t feel “out of sight, out of mind”.
Rest assured that a good MSP can manage your technology needs remotely or provide site visits and call-out support as needed.
Whenever there’s a partner or third party involved, there is the risk that your partner business will fold. Should this happen, you may be left scrambling to find a new MSP or wondering if your data and network remain secure.
To combat this risk, look for an MSP with a proven track record and strong financial standing. You should also ask the question “what happens to our data if you fold” when consulting a potential managed services partner.
Whether you’re keeping your in-house IT team or not, you need an MSP that understands your business. One way or another, your MSP needs to act as a natural extension of your company. They may not work for you full-time, but they should understand who you are, what your business goals are and the relevant threats, risks and opportunities.
Choose an MSP who understands your business just as well as they understand their own. That doesn’t happen automatically, of course, but an MSP should be able to demonstrate experience and familiarity with your industry, as well as a willingness to collaborate with you.
An MSP has a considerable level of control over your network, data and data policies. So you must choose an MSP you can trust. Ultimately, it’s in any MSP’s best interest to ensure your data is handled with care and confidentiality – after all, it’s terrible for an MSP’s business if a data breach occurs on their watch.
If security is a key concern for you, look for an MSP with proven experience and no record of a data breach. Make sure you’re confident in the MSP’s abilities and that they’re also confident they can provide the level of cybersecurity you need.
While managed network services are a good way to cut your costs, you should be sure that everything you need is covered in your service level agreement (SLA) — especially if you’re removing in-house IT resource in exchange for your MSP.
Your MSP may only be able to provide the services in your SLA, or may only offer extra services at a great cost. So, ensure your SLA covers what you need today and includes clauses for scaling the services as your organisation grows.
The Verdict: Are managed network services right for you?
The odds are that if you’re a small to medium business, government agency or not-for-profit, then yes, managed services are a good call. Even for larger enterprises, MSPs can offer great value as an extension of an in-house team’s resources.
MSPs offer incredible benefits to an organisation’s bottom line, as well as helping to manage risks such as data security, system downtime and the digital skills shortage.
If you’d like to chat with a trusted New Zealand-managed service provider, contact the team at NSP today to find out how we can support your business.