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What to Look for in Managed IT for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

IT Person sitting at a computer.

As a small to medium-sized business (SMB), leveraging technology is crucial to compete in today’s market. Understanding what is a managed service provider (MSP) and what to look for in one can be the key to unlocking this potential. An MSP can offer tailored Managed IT services that scale with your business needs, ensuring you don’t just keep up but stay ahead.

Choosing the right MSP involves more than just finding technical support. It’s also about finding a partner that aligns with your business vision and goals. Services like backup and disaster recovery, comprehensive threat management, and proactive monitoring and maintenance are not just value-adds but necessities that protect and propel your business forward. Partnering with one of the Top MSPs in The Midwest can provide you with the peace of mind your business deserves. What do you need to know?

What are Managed Service Providers (MSPs)?

Managed Service Providers are integral business allies, specializing in remotely managing a company’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. They go beyond traditional IT services by adopting a holistic approach to IT management, often including cybersecurity, cloud hosting, and infrastructure support. MSPs use advanced tools for proactive monitoring and maintenance to predict and prevent IT issues before they affect your business operations.

MSPs offer Enterprise Antivirus Protection and Endpoint Detection Response (EDR) solutions. These services are backed by a service level agreement (SLA), ensuring your IT needs receive guaranteed response times. In addition, MSPs act as a security operations center (SOC), constantly guarding your digital frontiers against cyber threats. Understand the vital ways managed services keep your business operational through our insights here and become well-versed in technology with our guide on the 11 technology buzzwords every SMB should know.

Who Needs MSPs?

A small and medium-sized business (SMB) that wishes to streamline its IT operations, reduce costs, and mitigate risks should consider MSPs. These service providers become an extension of your business, offering expertise in areas like ransomware training tools and three-layer security support. MSPs can make a major difference for businesses without a dedicated IT department, instantly giving them access to professional IT support and services.

Companies looking to scale will find MSPs particularly beneficial, as they offer the flexibility and scalability needed to grow. Whether it’s integrating Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration or ensuring secure remote access, MSPs tailor their services to meet the evolving needs of your business. They also provide vendor management, coordinating with third-party providers to ensure seamless service integration and operation. Discover the advantages of remote network monitoring in maintaining the health of your IT infrastructure and equip your business against cyber threats with the best security tools.

How Do MSPs Benefit Small Businesses?

Small businesses gain a competitive edge by utilizing MSPs, thanks to the comprehensive, ongoing IT support they offer. Help Desk as a Service is a prime example, providing SMBs with around-the-clock technical support essential for maintaining business continuity. MSPs offer predictable IT costs, which can be particularly advantageous for budgeting and financial planning in a small business setting. Furthermore, explore the benefits of MSP customers through our survey findings and learn about the unexpected benefits of managed services here.

What SMBs Need in an MSP

When an SMB looks for an MSP, it needs a partner that understands its industry and offers a broad range of services to cover all aspects of its IT needs. A few key areas to consider include:

24/7 Help Desk

A reliable MSP provides a Help Desk as a Service, ensuring that someone is available to assist no matter an issue arises. This service is especially critical for SMBs that operate beyond traditional business hours or in different time zones. A 24/7 Help Desk acts as a lifeline for employees, maintaining productivity by reducing downtime.

Efficient Help Desk as a Service functions are characterized by quick response times and resolution rates. They serve as the first point of contact for all IT-related issues, and their performance often reflects the MSP’s overall effectiveness. Reach out to us to learn more about our 24/7 help desk!

Preventative Maintenance

Proactive monitoring and maintenance are crucial in preventing issues rather than just responding to them. An MSP that emphasizes preventative maintenance helps ensure that IT infrastructure remains reliable and efficient. Regularly scheduled maintenance activities are designed to keep systems running smoothly and to thwart potential problems.

Preventative strategies also include ransomware training tools and Enterprise Antivirus Protection, which help educate employees and safeguard systems from malicious threats. By preventing incidents before they occur, an MSP helps to reduce the risk of downtime and the associated costs.

Onsite Desktop Support

While remote support is efficient, there are times when onsite desktop support is necessary. MSPs offering this service can handle issues that require a physical presence, providing a comprehensive support strategy. Quick and effective onsite support ensures minimal disruption to daily operations.

Ongoing desktop support services maintain the health of individual workstations, which is vital for the business’s overall performance. This service is part of the proactive monitoring and maintenance that keeps your business running smoothly, ensuring employees have the tools they need to perform their jobs effectively. We will provide your business with the support it needs.

Firewall & Virus Software

Comprehensive threat management includes deploying robust firewall solutions and virus software to defend against external attacks. An MSP should provide top-tier Enterprise Antivirus Protection and ensure that your firewall settings are configured to protect your network while allowing legitimate business traffic.

Regular updates and patches are part of maintaining strong defenses, which an MSP should manage as part of its service offering. With threats constantly evolving, it’s crucial to have an MSP that stays ahead of the curve in terms of cybersecurity measures.

Backup & Recovery

Backup and disaster recovery is a cornerstone of any MSP’s service portfolio. Effective backup solutions ensure data is continuously replicated and secured offsite, ready to be restored when needed. A good MSP will regularly test recovery processes to guarantee a swift return to normal operations after any data loss incident.

Disaster recovery planning is not just about backups but about ensuring business continuity under any circumstances. This includes quickly restoring critical systems and data, minimizing downtime, and the impact on business operations. Let us help you protect what matters most.

Infrastructure Support

Infrastructure support encompasses maintaining and managing physical and virtual resources underlying the business’ IT operations. An MSP should ensure that your infrastructure is stable, reliable, and optimized for performance.

This support includes regular updates, hardware upgrades, and network optimizations, all tailored to keep pace with your business growth. It should align with the proactive monitoring and maintenance strategy, ensuring that potential issues are identified and addressed preemptively. We offer the infrastructure support your business needs.

CIO on Demand

Access to a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) allows SMBs to benefit from high-level IT strategy and consultation without the overhead of a full-time executive position. The vCIO collaborates with business leaders to align IT initiatives with business goals, offering strategic planning and insight.

An effective vCIO provides guidance on technology trends, budgeting, and overall IT health, acting as a critical resource for long-term planning. They play a key role in technology-related decision-making, ensuring that investments support the business’s objectives and growth.

Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is an essential tool for collaboration and information management, which an MSP can seamlessly integrate into your business environment. It offers a centralized document management and collaboration platform, enhancing productivity and teamwork.

Beyond setup, MSPs provide ongoing support and training for Microsoft SharePoint, ensuring that your team can leverage its full potential. They can also customize SharePoint to fit your specific business needs, creating workflows and solutions that streamline operations.

Mobile Device Management

With the increasing reliance on mobile devices, having robust mobile device management (MDM) is essential. An MSP offers MDM services to secure, monitor, and manage company and employee-owned mobile devices. This is critical for protecting sensitive business data, especially in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment.

The management extends to enforcing security policies, managing mobile applications, and providing secure Remote access to company resources. Efficient MDM helps maintain the balance between accessibility and security, which is crucial for modern businesses.

Remote Access & VPN Services

Remote access and VPN services are vital for providing secure and reliable access to business resources from any location. An MSP ensures that remote connections are secure, using encryption and secure channels to protect data.

This service is a significant aspect of enabling a flexible and mobile workforce while maintaining strict cybersecurity protocols. With the increasing need for remote work solutions, these services are no longer optional but a necessity for SMBs. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you in these areas.

Active Directory Management

Active Directory management is integral to managing user access and security within a business. An MSP administers user accounts, ensuring secure access controls and efficient user provisioning and de-provisioning.

Consistent management of Active Directory is crucial for maintaining security and ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive resources. This falls under the umbrella of comprehensive threat management and is an aspect of infrastructure support that cannot be overlooked.

Vendor Management

Effective Vendor management is critical, as it ensures that all third-party services and products are thoroughly vetted and integrated seamlessly with your business operations. An MSP acts as a liaison between your business and its vendors, managing relationships and contracts to align with your business goals.

This service extends to negotiating with vendors, handling support issues, and managing software licenses, which are all part of a comprehensive MSP offering. Strategic vendor management helps SMBs focus on their core activities without being bogged down by the complexities of managing multiple technology partners.

Trust That You’re in Good Hands with Exact IT Consulting

With Exact IT Consulting, you place your trust in a partner that’s committed to your success. Our Managed IT services are designed to provide peace of mind, knowing that your technology needs are in expert hands. We invite you to learn more about our innovative solutions, such as Helpdesk as a Service, which can transform your IT expenditure, or delve into how we protect SMBs with cyber insurance. For those ready to take the next step towards secure, managed IT excellence, we encourage you to reach out. Visit Exact IT Consulting and let us help you navigate the complexities of IT management.