OK, now that we got the basic definition out of the way let’s dive into why your business needs it. Rather than call it an IT MSP, which is a really formal term, let’s call it your IT Services Tech Team. In combination with Digital Marketing, having a Tech Team is one of the most rapid growth investments you can make to your business, with an immediate return.
Reason Number One – keep money coming in the door.
Let’s face it, these days you can’t get much of anything done without using some type of technology. Everything and everyone is connected, and much of your business is taking place from one of your several devices. A device is essentially a computer of some type, whether that be a desktop that your onsite staff uses, a laptop for your road warriors, a server running in the back closet, or the smartphone that is attached to you at all times.
Downtime costs $$
All of your devices help you leverage your time. They make you more efficient in how you operate your business. But when your devices go down it means a loss of productivity at best, and at worse a loss of real revenue. You must prevent downtime, and when you cannot prevent it you must recover from it quickly. Big business knows this and invests a lot of time and money into improving their uptime.
Keep the IT engine running
Protecting your IT uptime is the foundational layer of what a IT Services Tech Team provides to you. Let’s face it, technology can be fragile, and you have a business to run. Your Tech Team will install software on all of your devices to monitor their health and make sure they are always running optimally. This 24×7 monitoring provides advance notice when something is not looking so good, alerting your Tech Team as soon as any problem is detected. Depending on the level of service you choose this could notify you directly when a device needs attention, or a more hands-off package will include proactive fixing of the problem as soon as it is detected. Problems such as slowness, sudden rebooting, or not starting up at all, can all be detected and fixed before they are even noticeable. This means your productivity (and revenue) is not blocked due to something that was easily preventable.
What if my IT still breaks?
Now don’t get me wrong, no amount of preventative maintenance can prevent all technology failures – these still happen. The objective is to minimize them and to be prepared them when possible. When a device completely fails there are also advantages to having a IT Service Tech Team that you are already working with. It’s like having a family doctor that is familiar with your health history – new problems can be addressed in the context of previous problems. It’s a lot better than starting out with a new doctor for every checkup needed and every concern that comes up.
This brings me to Reason Number Two – fix your IT fast.
When something does completely fail, and we all know that it will, what matters most is how quickly can you get the problem fixed. The big companies know this too and invest time and money in disaster recovery plans, often at a large expense of having completely independent and redundant systems (devices) in place. The big guys also regularly plan and have disaster recovery drills to ensure they are prepared. All of this is expensive – so why do they do it? Because again, downtime costs money.
How can I be prepared?
Your business needs a plan in place for the same reasons big business do it – the faster you recover the sooner you are back to full revenue generation. Your IT Service Tech Team has a vested interest in keeping you up and running. They will make sure to help you plan for replacing devices that are showing signs of impending failure. They have a strong interest in helping you, their customer, when a device does fail. You are the customer – if you’ve chosen the right Tech Team they want you to be happy and for your business to thrive. Make sure the team you have chosen is prepared to provide this level of service.
Reason Number Three – protect your data (and your customer’s data too).
Bad people are real, whether they are breaking into a physical location and stealing your inventory or equipment, or when they are breaking into your devices to steal your company’s information. They want your data. They want your customer’s data. And they want to use it for nefarious purposes. As a business owner it’s your responsibility to protect what is yours and what your customers entrust you with.
Offense is the best defense
The number one defense you have against someone compromising your systems is keeping all of your software up to date with the latest releases. This is referred to as patching, and in IT we do this service all day long, every day. The most common reason for software companies to release new versions of their software is to fix newly discovered security vulnerabilities.
What needs to be patched?
The largest category of software that requires regular patching is operating systems. This is true for all operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Keeping your operating system and other software up to date can be both time-consuming and disruptive to you and your employees. A good IT Services Tech Team can eliminate that pain. They will watch for all the software patches you need and they will also schedule them to be installed at times when nobody is typically using the device. Like at 2 AM (depending on your business of course).
What about viruses?
All technology is susceptible to viruses or malware. These small programs downloaded to your computer are intended to, well, make your life hell. You need a solid antivirus plan, which includes not only the antivirus software but also someone actively taking care of any viruses or malware that are detected.
We’ve all seen the impacts of computer viruses and malware directly on our personal devices. We’ve seen it when big business gets hit with something major and it ends up in the news. There is an incalculable impact to your business’ reputation on top of the actual cost to recover from an attack . Don’t be a victim. Lock the door and turn on the alarm and let your IT Services Tech Team take on the responsibility of keeping your business safe and secure.
Reason Number Four – grow the business.
The first three reasons have focused on protecting revenue. That’s really important, and if you don’t have a Tech Team in place to help you do that you should go get one. Right now. Big business makes strategic investments in this area – because it pays off and so should you. Now I want to talk about the future.
What’s your dream?
Most people that start their own business have a dream, a vision, a big idea. They want to make a difference. They want to disrupt a market. They want to prove they can do it better than the competition. That’s what makes working with small businesses so much fun. Small business owners are passionate when they talk about the future. The don’t just dream, they dream big. The best way to quickly realize those dreams is to fully leverage all of the technology you can.
Navigating the options
This does not mean jumping in for every new technology solution that hits the market. Not all technology will be suited for your business, and not all technologies are created equal. In fact some is complete crap with slick marketing. How do you navigate the endless options and find what is best for you? I’m sure you guessed it, with a really solid IT Services Tech Team on your side. You know your business, your vision, your dream. Your Tech Team knows what kind of technology will get you there.
Not every IT MSP offers strategic planning and implementation services, but then they do not fit the Tech Team definition as I have stated it. A complete IT Services Tech Team knows your current technology usage including its strengths and weaknesses. They have a relationship with you as a trusted Partner. They listen to you. They understand your business model. They are there for you when you really need it. This is the type of Partner that can effectively navigate the options and leverage technology to its fullest potential for your business. For your dreams.
That’s why we decided to name our business Partners In Tech
At this point of the article you should be convinced. You need a technology partner. I’d love to have a chance to work with you personally, but if not I do hope this helps you find the right IT Services Tech Team to work with your business.
Can I afford this?
As a small business owner myself I have to choose what services I can afford and what will have to wait, or what I decide to do myself. I always try to make sure I am paying for services that free up my time to grow my business, and that the service helps not just maintain but to grow my business.
Let’s try to put the cost into perspective. A mid to upper tier of 24×7 monitoring, patching, and antivirus of your systems should run you between $39 – $99 per device, per month. The variation is based on the provider and what all is included in the package. I will use $70 / month, and assume you have 10 devices for the purpose of this example. This equates to a monthly expense of $700, annualized at $8,400. Remember, this is protecting 10 devices from slowness or complete failure. It’s also protecting the revenue that those 10 devices helps you and your team generate. I can’t tell you how much a single day of downtime will cost your business, but I bet you know. And technology problems are rarely solved in a day if you are not prepared for them. We don’t need to do the exact math, I think the potential impact is clear.
Compared to the cost of an employee
Another way to look at the cost is outsourcing it compared to having it in-house. From our example above we have $8,400 / year. Even if you find a part-time IT employee you can expect to pay at least $20/hr. This can range up to $40/hr or more depending on your geographical location and the skill set of the employee. For a 50% part-time employee or contractor that equates to $20,800 to $41,600 per year. That cost only includes the basic foundational work to keep the business running, and for only half the time. Technology can impact your business at any time, and for much less you can get 24×7 coverage and a variety of highly skilled specialists at your disposal. And you can invest the money you save back into your business, your dream.
I hope this post has helped you understand the basic business reasons you need not just an IT MSP but a fully engaged Tech Team. Please reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have about your business specifically, or just with the ideas I’ve presented in this posting. We look forward to talking with you.
James – Co Founder and President, Partners in Tech