Your IT team can use the added support of an MSP

It’s hard to predict a business’s future IT needs when things are just getting started. More often than not, it’s more important to get the company off the ground before investing in the technology you may or may not later need. But when things go well, there inevitably comes a point when resources — human and technical — fall short of needs.

Investing in a small, in-house IT team can maneuver a company through early growth spurts, but if things are going well, supplementing your in-house team with external support from a professional managed IT services provider (MSP) is the most flexible and affordable way to scale up your business’s capacity quickly.

How can an MSP support your in-house staff?

Just as some things are better handled by your in-house team, others are better delegated to an outside team. Cybersecurity management, in particular, is well worth outsourcing. The technicians that staff regional MSPs usually have many years of experience watching cybersecurity threats evolve, and keeping up with the latest security systems and tools is their full-time job. This frees up in-house staff to focus on business-critical and higher value-added tasks.

In general, complementing your in-house team with support from an MSP offers your company access to a broader range of technical skills and knowledge than you’d get from internal staff alone, and without the HR costs.

Below is a list of some of the top benefits of hiring an MSP to support your internal staff.

Specialized knowledge

Internal IT team members usually must be versed in a broad range of technological quick-fixes and workarounds, which is great — so long as that breadth of knowledge doesn’t come at the cost of its depth.

MSPs hire specialists in every field to round out their teams. If cybersecurity is your primary concern, an MSP won’t send you a generalist — you’ll get a highly trained security specialist, with certifications recognized not just in Utah or the United States, but around the world (don’t worry, they can still fix the printer, too).

The same goes for compliance. Are you in a highly regulated field, like legal or financial services or healthcare provision? MSPs keep up with the latest local, state, and national requirements for the industries they serve, and they know how to leverage the most current and cost-effective technology to keep you compliant.

Special projects and business growth

Big migrations to the cloud or from Exchange to Office 365 can often overburden a smaller staff already running the day-to-day aspects of an IT department. The risk is that the migration or any other large, non-routine project bottlenecks productivity and causes a backlog of service requests.

The same is true if your company needs in-depth security testing and assessment, a network redesign, and/or upgrade, or virtualization of any kind. By outsourcing major projects, you can meet your technology initiatives while maintaining business operations.

Employee morale

Dealing with the same end-user issues every day can become repetitive and, quite frankly, frustrating for your internal staff after a while — not least when there are larger, strategic IT issues to be attended to. It can slow down their progress with other goals.

And maybe, the rest of the office can sense it too. No one wants to interrupt the IT department when they’re in the middle of an involved project.

An MSP can set up a system that relays issues directly to an outside party when they come up so your in-house team can stay on track while end users still get rapid resolutions to their issues.

Clearly, these are only some of the many ways an MSP can support your in-house team. To talk specifics about how NetWize can help, call today.

Making IT Budgets Strategic

I believe we’d agree the business landscape has changed. The evolution of border-less interactions, secure, remote workers and client driven security and compliance puts immense pressure on the executive staff to identify and execute against their goals. The achievement of those business goals relate proportionately to the executive’s understanding of their organization’s current technology capabilities, business strategy and the overall competitive landscape.

Often times this becomes a three-legged stool. If the organization’s strategy is to grow (organically or through acquisition), there must be a very high understanding of how they define their competitive landscape. Once that has been identified, the executives map their business model (strategy, infrastructure, execution) to delivering against that stated goal. Interestingly, most organizations overlook the relationship between the technology they use internally to secure their organization and its’ responsibility to supporting those future objectives.

The ability of the CIO to deliver technology against the businesses’ objectives has never been higher due to the emergence of cloud and next-gen technologies, IoT and edge devices, business insights and technical analytics. Through these technologies, CIO’s are able to collect data, both technical and competitive, thus providing the organization with multiple internal and external, actionable scenarios. One scenario might be: an agile infrastructure provides a reallocation of costs from a CapEx to an OpEx model thereby potentially freeing up additional funds to invest in growth strategies. The CIO maps the internal investment (CapEx to OpEx strategy and execution) to the external investment (newly available funds allocated to acquiring additional, outside resources) to achieve the objective. In order to achieve this symbiotic relationship between IT and Business strategies, a redefining of traditional IT budgets is required.

IT budgets have been the bane of most organizations. They are generally viewed as only a cost center and therefore one of the first items to be pressured during the budgeting cycle. Year-over-year flat, support-based IT budgets aren’t satisfactory in times of evolution. Since traditional budgets have focused almost exclusively on maintenance, refresh, support of the current infrastructure along with FTE’s to deliver, there isn’t much room for the delivery of value towards achieving business goals or business unit strategies. The national average for IT budget spend as a percentage of revenue is between 3-4% (Deloitte, IDC, Gartner research), and yet most organizations will admit IT is underfunded as an internal organization. What if the funding categories of an IT budget were defined to better align with the organization’s business strategies?

From an IT perspective, there are three distinct activities that occur within an organization: support of the current infrastructure, design and implementation of solutions that support incremental business changes and delivering on business innovation. If IT budgets evolved to include a percent allocation of the above items against the overall budget, then the CIO has effectively addressed how to optimize current operations, deliver insights to business units and prepare for the execution of business strategies.

An example of this could be: Organization Revenue: $25 M, IT Budget: 3.5% ($875k). Through annual strategic business planning sessions, the short- and long-term goals of the organization are identified, and the CIO determines the allocation of the IT budget to be:

  • 57%: Support of Current Infrastructure ($498,750)
  • 26%: Incremental Business Change ($227,500)
  • 17%: Business Innovation ($148,750)

In this example, the CIO is presenting to the executive staff an understanding of the goals and how the investments will support the objectives. The internal “support” investment ensures the organization is utilizing the tools and infrastructure to secure it’s current and future operations. “Incremental Business Change and Business Innovations” investments attempt to clearly align tactical enhancements to the organization (departmental and company-wide) to achieve those strategy-based goals. Too many times the lack of foresight and planning leads to an inability to define an IT Budget as strategic but is extremely important given the change and speed of the market.

Hopefully, clarity has been brought to defining the business value of the CIO as they are driving the convergence of Business and IT strategies / objectives. This powerful, business aware CIO is now helping to delineate the “what the organization wants to achieve”, and “how those investments” will drive the execution. When an organization appreciates the value of documenting a 3-5 year plan, their IT budgets become strategic and a huge competitive advantage.

Is it time for you to partner with an MSP? 5 Questions you should ask yourself

It has never been easy to innovate, leveraging technology to stay ahead of your competitors, when you’re entirely reliant on in-house expertise and systems. With technology obsolescence and rising threats to information security presenting an ongoing challenge to business leaders, it’s imperative that you find the right partners to work with. If that sounds like a familiar problem, then it’s probably time to start working with a managed services provider (MSP).

#1. Are your systems struggling to keep up with demand?

From an operations standpoint, modern technology presents businesses with the opportunity to grow without restrictions. However, those stuck with old in-house computing infrastructure will find themselves struggling to keep up during periods of high demand. Partnering with an MSP gives you access to computing resources and expertise on demand for a predictable monthly fee per user.

#2. Do your employees crave workplace flexibility?

Ever since the rise of cloud technologies and ubiquitous internet connectivity, the workforce has been striving to break the chains of the office desk and the nine-to-five routine. Employees are now more accustomed to working from home or on the move, and it’s a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. By outsourcing your IT and having your computing workloads taken care of in the cloud, you can facilitate complete workforce mobility and reduce overheads.

#3. Have you recently suffered a data breach?

Corporate data is under constant assault from hackers, social engineering scammers, and a multitude of other threats. Small businesses, presenting something of a sweet spot between risk and reward, tend to be the favorite target. If your organization has recently suffered a data breach, then it’s time augment your systems with cutting-edge defenses to reduce risk and keep up with the quickly evolving world of cybersecurity. MSPs typically offer the full range of security services needed to stay safe, such as round-the-clock monitoring, intrusion detection and prevention, and more.

#4. Is unscheduled downtime hindering productivity?

As organizations across all industries become increasingly reliant on technology, downtime is one of the biggest barriers to growth and productivity. Customers now expect companies to be consistently online, and if you can’t serve them in their time of need, they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere. In other words, unscheduled downtime is not something you can afford to suffer. MSPs are bound by the obligations outlined in their service level agreements to respond to support tickets within given deadlines and maintain a minimum level of service availability.

#5. Are you struggling to keep up with your competitors?

Many established brands have all but vanished simply because they failed to keep up with the times. To prevent your business from being usurped by more innovative competitors, you need the latest and most suitable IT solutions on your side. It’s practically impossible to do that when you’re fully reliant on an in-house IT department due to factors like the shortage of expertise and high costs involved. To innovate fast enough, you need access to the right vendors, and that’s generally something that only comes with a partnership with an MSP.

Netwize helps drive real business results with modern technology and the expertise required to make everything happen. Call us today to take your first step towards digital transformation.

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