Determining the value of a managed service provider can be a tricky proposition, especially for small and mid-sized businesses with extant IT departments. It’s often an issue of balance: What’s the role and function of an internal team? What’s the supplemental or complementary role of an MSP? How does the partnership improve operations for the SMB? How is that measured? And, perhaps most important, what costs (and cost savings) are involved?
There are many different answers to those questions, but one of the most important ones is related to efficiency. CompTIA’s 5th Annual Trends in Managed Services research report, which queried 400 U.S. MSPs earlier this year on trends and tools and more, ranked improved operational efficiency of IT operations as one of the top factors for why enterprises and SMBs choose to partner with MSPs.
How can MSPs position themselves as resources for helping SMBs achieve operational efficiencies? Here are three ways:
Most SMBs are… well, small. That means they typically don’t have the staff to provide IT support before, during, and after business hours. But in today’s business environment, the time that employees work and the time that end customers need assistance usually can be defined as “always.” As such, business owners need IT running smoothly all the time. And SMBs themselves aren’t in the business of troubleshooting connection outages, service disruptions, and battling viruses.
Spending time with IT distracts SMBs from succeeding at their core business objectives that increase profitability and boost the bottom line. MSPs need to demonstrate their ability to provide proactive, timely, expert support services, which directly translates to improved business efficiency for SMBs.
According the CompTIA’s report, “60 percent of end users describe their managed services engagement as a collaborative arrangement with their internal IT department, suggesting that certain IT areas fall into the MSP bucket, while others remain in-house.” The partnership is paramount. Most in-house IT staffs can benefit from the additional IT services support an MSP provides.
Having an MSP partner also addresses the issue of talent retention (read: turnover) on the in-house team. Investing in the managed services business model gives SMBs tools for tackling existing labor constraints and prevents internal IT departments from always having to play catch-up. MSPs should position themselves as extensions of in-house teams, enabling existing staff to better manage their workloads and improving overall operational efficiency for the SMB.
IT labor is pricey, not to mention unpredictable (see the previous point about turnover and retention). How can SMBs get more IT expertise without hiring more IT pros? By partnering with MSPs that can boost their staffs without upping their payroll. MSPs should position their offerings as “pay as you grow” solutions, providing SMBs with visibility into monthly spends. That kind of predictable partnership means more efficient operational expenses for SMBs. Also efficient? Paying one provider (and processing one invoice) for all of an SMB’s technology needs.
The best MSPs are collaborators and partners, not just another cost for SMBs with no measurable value. Give SMBs the proof points about how your model and solutions will improve their operational efficiencies so that they are able to clearly see the value of the MSP proposition.