Managed Service Providers (MSP) Explained in 5 Minutes

April 9, 2021

IT services, IT support, IT companies . . . they’re all synonyms, right? Not exactly. IT support refers to a simple break-fix company—one that only solves your tech problems after they arise. IT services usually refer to a managed service provider.

But what exactly is a managed service provider (MSP), and why do companies choose to outsource to them? We’ll answer those questions and more below—and all in five minutes or less.

What Is a Managed Service Provider?

Simply put, managed service providers are third-party companies that make it possible to outsource your IT needs and other aspects of your company. They offer support and IT expertise to companies of all sizes, and are often cheaper than the alternative: purchasing and managing individual software licenses on your own.

MSPs take the liberty of proactively monitoring your company's network to ensure everything is running smoothly at all times. In fact, they are one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure that your system remains up-to-date and bug-free.

What Do MSPs Do?

Although MSPs can be used in a variety of ways and in varying capacities, they are most often used to help businesses negate risks of all kinds. Rather than waiting until a problem occurs to hire a third-party company, an MSP will help you prevent issues from occurring in the first place.

They also provide upgrades and updates to your system as needed, as well as all maintenance tasks that are required to keep your system safe and running smoothly. This frees companies from grappling with IT-related issues and allows them to focus on the other aspects of running the company.

Most managed service providers offer a variety of other services, too. It’s worth checking out their service page to see if they offer the following:

  • VoIP services (or voice solutions)
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Cloud migration and management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Software development
  • 24/7 IT support

When Shouldn’t I Partner with an MSP?

Although the MSPs provide companies with quite a few benefits, they aren’t always a perfect match for every company. An MSP might not be the right solution for you if:

  • They're not local.

    Managed service providers are most effective when they have an office in the same zip code as you. You’ll find that a local MSP will be more responsive to your IT needs than someone who only operates remotely or on the other side of the country.

  • They’re more expensive than your current IT costs.

    Managed service providers are usually considered a cost-effective choice, but that might not be true if you only use a few softwares or computer systems. Calculate your current computer costs (including hardware, software, IT support, telephony, and security), then compare that to the average MSP cost.

  • They have a limited or irrelevant scope.

    The best managed service providers offer a wide range of services and specialize in one or two of them. If you’re approached by an MSP that either has too few services or specialties that aren’t applicable to your business, it’s probably time to look elsewhere.

Are MSPs a Long-Term Investment or a Short-Term Solution?

A managed service provider isn’t just a break-fix technician. They’re here for the long-haul, and even though they may be an outsourced firm, many companies view their MSPs as an extension of their own business.

Choose a provider that you can envision a long-term relationship with. Ask yourself these questions before committing to an MSP:

  • Do they share my company’s values?
  • Are they trustworthy, and do they have credible referrals to back up their claims?
  • Are they transparent with their clients?

If you’re seeking a managed service provider in Cambridge, we’re more than happy to answer those questions and more. Contact us today to find out how we can better assist you with your IT service needs.

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