Red Flags: It’s time to switch your IT Managed Service Provider

MSP Red Flags

Red Flags: It’s time to switch your IT Managed Service Provider

Technical hiccups happen regardless of your business’s size, niche, or geography. And outsourcing your IT infrastructure services to an MSP provides you with a dedicated team that can handle all such issues. This team is always on alert to address any problems, getting you back up and running as soon as possible. You hire MSPs to fix your problems and reduce your downtime.

But fixing issues and keeping it running are slightly different things, though. If you find your MSP fixing the same issue numerous times, you’re probably with the wrong MSP. Actual MSPs must be less product-focused and more focused on solving client problems. In addition to billable hours, your MSP should track the uptime of your systems.

Sometimes with specialized services, like those an MSP provides, it can be hard to assess how well they perform their job. But the bottom line is that outsourcing your IT to a managed service provider (MSP) is supposed to make your life easier. If it doesn’t, something has gone wrong. There are subtle signs that your MSP is no longer the right fit for you. A few questions to introspect are:

How often has your MSP not even known there are issues until you tell them? Do you consider your MSP as an on-demand IT service provider?

The answer to this question is about strategic fitment. Do you consider your MSP a transactional partner or partner to work with you? It’s not enough that your MSP is fixing IT issues that arise. They should proactively assess hardware and software needs and security practices bi-annual or quarterly. And this can be even outside their written contract (scope of work). Proactive maintenance makes all the difference when it comes to IT management.

Do your MSP over-promise and under-deliver?

MSP industry has cut-throat competition. And to survive, many MSPs rely on the effectiveness of their salespeople. However, the challenge with this method is that sales calls or pitches often commit big promises upfront to secure your business. In reality, the service provider might not have the capacity or competency to deliver such services. Reviewing your IT service agreement lets you pick areas where your MSP hasn’t delivered up to its promises.

MSP Red Flags smallDoes your MSP have the vision to plan and execute for the future? How good is your MSP in project management skills?

The sole purpose of your MSP is to provide reliable IT services. And that can’t be achieved with a myopic view of day-to-day operational issues. Your MSP must champion taking cues from regular issues, devise long-term plans that put you in the driving seat, and execute with a transparent governance model.

Do they track response time? How well do they handle complaints? Does your MSP manage stakeholder communications effectively?

One of the best indicators to answer this question is MTTR (Mean Time To Repair/Resolve/Recovery/Response), MTTF (Mean Time To Failure), MTTA (Mean Time To Acknowledge), and MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure).[1] These can be a good baseline or benchmark that starts more challenging conversations regarding the process, RCA methodologies, response protocols, and more.

How well does your MSP align with your organization’s culture? Do they own your issues? Do they consider your users as their ‘own’ users? Do they track CSAT?

Can you ring your MSP at 2 AM and be assured that someone will be working on the ground to resolve a critical business issue. Does your MSP empathize with you in a significant outage and work tirelessly to bring back the system? Does your MSP think about the solution first or bring the contractual scope of work in every discussion? How well does your MSP resonate with your user community, values, and vision?

If answers to the above questions are No, is your service provider an MSP then? Yes, an MSP is responsible for a specific and agreed set of technologies for an agreed-upon subscription cost. But, if your MSP only does time and materials on a break-fix basis, they aren’t an MSP. It would help if you didn’t forget that an MSP is a Managed Service Provider. The effectiveness of managed services lies in their simplicity. They augment your competency rather than you shifting your operational complexities. Actual MSPs think beyond their scope, which benefits your entire landscape.

Final Words

If you’re not receiving the level of service you expected or if you feel your provider is not actively working to solve your issues during a contract period. This can happen, and you have the right to switch when it does.

When it comes to choosing a company to handle your company’s tech needs, trust is key. Partner with Protected Harbor, when our members think of us, they don’t just think of us as an MSP. We are more than that. We will walk you through the process of selecting the best solution for your company’s specific needs. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have access to our years of experience and you can manage all of your company’s IT tasks, request support, and configure your team’s profile settings.

Together we will identify areas of improvement, outline a road map for change, and put a process in place to track your progress. Contact us for a free IT Audit.

How do leading MSPs differentiate themselves from the rest

difference between managed service providers

How do leading MSPs differentiate themselves from the rest?

MSP’s operating model is a paradigm shift from reactive to proactive support.  This means one KPI for an MSP must be to ensure your IT doesn’t fail while ensuring optimal performance.

It all starts with a growth-oriented business model. The most successful MSPs focus on delivering genuine value to their customers, continually improving their offerings, and scaling their businesses. To grow their businesses, MSPs can focus on increasing the amount of business they do with existing customers, acquiring new customers, or increasing the average value of each customer. So, beyond keeping your IT lights on, MSPs that stand out provide good business value for their job. Here are a few differentiators of modern MSPs.

Advanced security offerings

Cyber-attacks are mainstream, particularly for small to medium-sized businesses. Threats are more frequent, targeted, and a lot more complex. According to a Accenture — Cost of Cybercrime Study report, around 43% of cyber-attacks are aimed at small businesses, and only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. A quality MSP company should ensure you are safe from online threats rather than waiting for the disaster. Instead of dealing with cyber attackers or ransom calls as they come, a good MSP can target vulnerabilities in advance and shut them down before it becomes a problem. Yes, some attacks can penetrate even the best of systems. However, robust threat prevention will de-risk the threat of an unexpected event. Your MSP must offer a comprehensive plan that can prevent even sophisticated threats.

Cloud services and automation

Modern MSPs are switching to cloud-native solutions and automation levers to improve the quality of their services. Cloud solutions provide scalability and on-demand disaster recovery to their clients. Automation brings efficiency with lower dependency on humans, thus reducing manual errors or discrepancies.

Innovation

Best IT service companies focus on innovation, which can benefit their customers. These companies know the importance of tracking the latest industry trends. With their help, you can utilize digital technologies to get ahead of competitors. Best MSPs are not stuck with their approach and technology and update their offerings based on trends, geography, and industry. For example, new forms of cybercrime develop every year. A company that focuses on innovation will know how to safeguard you from further attacks.

Value creation

Leading MSPs consult and advise on the best technologies or tools. They help build a customized program based on your business goals and strategic vision, manage the program’s implementation, and run daily operation and maintenance of those critical functions. MSPs must keep up to speed with the latest developments and develop new services to keep delivering value to their customers.

difference between managed service providers smallCustomer Experience (CX)

CX has already been the buzzword for the last half a decade. The concept was initially driven by big consulting firms and is now necessary for IT customers. As modern users prefer being at the center of things, they expect self-service via knowledge forums, chatbots, and service catalogs, i.e., omnichannel communication. A helpdesk managed service provider supports these areas to improve your NPS and CSAT. Your in-house team can focus on the strategic aspects of improving tech adoption.

Adaptability and Resilience

The disruption caused by the pandemic demonstrated that adaptability and resilience — from both MSPs and their customers — are essential to survive. As companies adopt a hybrid working culture, MSPs must shift their operating model to suit the situation. E.g., MSPs need to equip their employees and clients with the right tools to support remote working remotely.

 

Conclusion

Top MSPs know how to stay ahead of the curve, keep their customers engaged, and offer value-added services that make their customers’ lives easier. As technology advances and changes the way businesses are done, MSPs must keep up with the latest trends. To stay ahead of the curve and deliver top-notched service to their clients, MSPs must stay informed about the latest technological advancements and customer demands.

Protected Harbor’s team of IT experts is dedicated to providing its clients with dependable IT solutions that meet their unique business needs. With its remote monitoring and management capabilities, our solution enables clients to access their IT team whenever needed — no matter where they are. We specialize in small- to mid-sized businesses and offer services that are scalable and flexible to fit client needs. We also offer 24/7 on-site or remote monitoring, data recovery, and an SLA. We offer a free consultation to help you determine the best solution for your business. Contact us today!

Other MSPs approach vs. Protected Harbor Customer-centric approach

Other MSPs approach vs. Protected Harbor Customer-centric approach

The arrival of the internet opened new doors and pushed the IT industry in new directions. With the growing consumer base of the internet and accompanying challenges, a need for solution makers became indispensable. Several IT solution providers, including value-added resellers (VAR) and managed service providers (MSP), came into play. They offered their services and solutions to the industry, such as infrastructure management and cloud servers. A solution provider is simply a vendor who answers all your IT needs with their products. These MSPs competed not only to capture the industry by taking small and mid-scale enterprises as their clients but to deliver cost-effective solutions to every need of the customers. Click here to know more about the IT solution providers, VAR and MSP.

What do they have in common?

After expanding cloud computing in the IT sector, they have broadened IT solution possibilities further. The solution providers now offer Infrastructure as a service (IAAS), software as a service (SaaS), desktop as a service (DaaS), and other on-demand offerings. The solution provider either builds and manages its cloud services or recommends (resells) the services of a public cloud provider like Amazon web services or Microsoft azure.

An IT solution provider, Value-added reseller, or Managed service provide what all of them have in common: they are simply software reselling, services, and pre-bundled packages in the name of a solution. For example, if your system is affected by viruses, they will provide you with the antivirus of any XYZ company. After installing it on your computer, if the product key is not working or you suffer from a data loss, the solution provider is not responsible. The same applies to most MSPs as they resell the cloud and infrastructure management services from a public cloud provider. If you face a technical issue, the provider plays the middle man forwarding your concerns to the original service provider while you are rendered helpless. These are not managed security services by any means as they lack the infrastructure to solve or eliminate any potential threats by themselves and rely on the end managed services network.

These solution providers and MSPs are just selling pre-bundled package solutions designed to attract most consumers and solve their percentage problems. The point to note is that no two clients are the same. Small-scale and mid-scale enterprises have their own set of requirements and issues. They switch to managed services companies as they are the most efficient options in the market compared to setting up your own data center infrastructure management (DCIM). Conclusively, the IT managed service companies follow the product-centric approach to design a product and sell it to as many people as possible rather than the customer-centric approach to design a specific product for one particular client.

Protected Harbor’s customer-centric approach. How is it different?

We follow a seamless 360-degree approach while catering to the clients, and the process is integral to our brand’s culture. Protected Harbor’s market differentiator is highly customer-centric, keeping the customer at the center and formulating a strategy focusing on delivering the best experience by providing tailor-made solutions for every individual customer.
Being among the top managed security service providers, we keep customers at the center of our business philosophy and foster a positive experience at every stage of the customer’s journey.

Protected Harbor has its own hosted, in-house servers and networking equipment to eliminate costs, redundancies, and security risks. The hardware investment made by Protected Harbor is a critical factor in providing a positive experience to the customer. This increases control over safety and security with the flexibility to design and deliver services as per demand. We take pride and accountability for the security of the clients’ data with exceptional infrastructure management. The issues are solved in-house rather than waiting for the third-party, public service provider to do so.

The technology improvement plan is another benchmark strategy followed by Protected Harbor. We listen to customers’ needs, assess what needs to be done, and design the system accordingly. It’s an ongoing development strategy that suggests the best possible steps to enhance the experience and elate the customers. Customer satisfaction is the core of our business, and we challenge ourselves to exceed the expectations.

The choice is yours!

Since it’s no longer a secret as to how we do it and deliver industry-leading quality services, with the complete focus on customer satisfaction, we exceed the limits and expectations with our feature-rich cloud services, data center management, all-around IT support, and security 99.99% uptime with application outage avoidance (AOA). To move forward with a software reselling MSP or a dedicated customer-centric, IT-managed service provider. The choice is relatively simple.

What Is Managed IT Services?

Introduction: What is Managed IT Services?

Managed IT services allow businesses to assign their IT operations to an expert organization that concentrates in handling these duties. Protected Harbor, known as Managed Service Providers (MSPs), We are responsible for the entirety or portions of a business’ IT systems, as agreed upon in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). IT equipment is typically procured by the client, and depending on the SLA, Managed Service Providers may provide round-the-clock monitoring, issue resolution and reporting, and more.
According to the SLA, managed service providers charge a flat fee for delivery of their services over a set period of time. The SLA defines exactly what services will be furnished and the degree they will be offered, as well as metrics for measuring the success of these services.

Cloud computing has allowed managed IT services to expand beyond the regions and borders that would constrain the average break/fix IT through the adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies, as well as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service(PaaS) also. These capabilities allow managed IT services to scale at a rate dramatically larger and faster than in-house IT operation or break/fix providers.

 

Key Terms & Definitions

Agent— A small program used by MSPs to remotely gather information about the status of machines and devices. Once installed, it allows MSPs to manage systems, update programs, and resolve issues.

Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR)— A combination of data backup and disaster recovery solutions that works cohesively to ensure an organization’s critical business functions will continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise have interrupted them or will be recovered to an operational state within a reasonably short period.

Break/Fix— An older style for delivering IT services and repairs to organizations in a fee-for-service framework. Essentially, a client contacts a break/fix technician to request upgrades, maintenance, or to resolve issues, and the technician bills the customer upon completion of the work.

Fully Managed IT Services Managed IT services that are coupled with a Network Operations Center to proactively monitor systems, resolve issues and perform work with a level of expertise and efficiency unparalleled to other solutions.

Help Desk— A managed IT service offering that provides information and technical support to end-users. Some MSPs white label their Help Desk services for the client SMB.

Information Technology (IT)— An enterprise solution for storing, transmitting, creating, and using data through computing devices, networks and telecommunications.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)— An MSP offering to SMBs; virtualized hardware over a cloud computing environment such as server space, network connections, IP addresses, load balancers, and other computer infrastructure with which clients can build their own platforms.

Internet of Things— The emergent network of tangible objects and products that contain software, sensors, and connectivity to the Internet and/or private networks and can exchange information based on standards set forth by the International Telecommunication Union’s Global Standards Initiative.

In-House— The process where an organization hires its own IT service providers and pays their salary, benefits, further training, and the infrastructure they oversee. This is typically an extremely costly endeavor, and often businesses that try to procure in-house IT lack the capabilities to fully service their system and an inability to grow.

IT Channel— An industry-exclusive marketplace where VARs, MSPs, and OEMs provide platforms, products and services to end-users by partnering with hardware and software vendors.

Labor Arbitrage— the phenomenon of decreasing end costs by utilizing the abundant labor forces, education, and training of untapped global workforces.

Managed IT Services— IT tasks and processes that are fulfilled by a third-party organization.

Managed Services Provider (MSP)— An IT professional (or IT organization) that offers managed IT services.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)— A security platform used to monitor, manage, and secure employees’ mobile devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers and across multiple mobile operating systems being used in an organization.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)— A virtualized platform within a cloud environment that allows end-users to develop and manage Internet applications that would otherwise require a complex infrastructure to launch apps.

Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)— a platform utilizing a collection of services and tools that can monitor, manage, and deploy solutions to servers and endpoint devices utilizing agent software installed on endpoint systems.

A service-level agreement (SLA)— Essentially, a contract between a vendor and a client that specifies what the vendor will furnish the timeframe in which it will be furnished and the criteria for measuring vendor success.

Small and Medium-Sized Business (SMB)— On average, business or organization that has 100 or fewer employees is considered small; 100-999 employees are medium-sized. IT channel partners often seek SMB organizations as clients.

Software as a Service (SaaS)— Sometimes referred to as “software on demand,” SaaS is a licensing and distribution model that utilizes a subscription basis for access to software that is centrally hosted by its provider and accessed by end-users via a client.

Value-Added Reseller (VAR)— An organization that adds services or features to a product, then resells it as a new product or solution.

 

History of Managed IT Services

At the outset of enterprise computing, information technology services and management was on a break/fix basis, meaning that computer systems were only managed by an expert when they did not work, necessitating a technician to fix it. This technician may also have been the person who built and/or installed the computer system, due to the proliferation of small IT shops that specialized in these small-scale client services at the time.

However, as time progressed computer manufacturing grew to a large scale, leaving the small IT dealer to focus less on manufacturing and more on break/fix. This system was time-consuming, labor-intensive, costly and reactive. It did not allow the technician room to grow their business or take on new clients without massive investments in labor and infrastructure.

As computing devices increased yearly, the divide between break/fix technicians and the number of computers they could reasonably service under the break/fix model grew wider and wider. Managed IT services emerged in the early years of the millennium to meet this need, shifting far from the break/fix model.

Managed IT services heralded a proactive approach to IT, attempting to conduct maintenance, upgrades, system monitoring, and issue resolution on a routine basis, with the goal of preventing problems before they started. Automation increased Internet capabilities, and cloud computing allowed for monitoring and issue resolution to be provided remotely, enabling more efficient processes and a consolidation of resources.

Efficiency, consolidated resources, and client satisfaction, coupled with fixed rates, the ability to offer greater service offerings, and take on a larger clientele led to managed IT services becoming the industry-standard approach to managing computer systems large and small for SMBs.

 

The Managed IT Services Model

MSPs utilize a broad range of IT expertise to resolve issues efficiently. Unlike break/fix providers, MSPs can employ the latest processes and software to proactively monitor endpoints, keeping systems up-to-date, and preventing issues before they arise. Managed IT services are also available 24x7x365, allowing end-users to take nights and weekends off while the MSPs do the heavy lifting on tasks and processes done after hours.

MSP services are typically offered at a flat recurring rate in tiered levels, offering a greater level of automation and a higher degree of management at higher levels based on the specified service level agreement. End users only pay for the services they require and can increase or decrease their tier based on business needs and demand.

As with other necessary business functions like utilities, the end-user pays for services provided offsite, such as remote monitoring and management, help desk solutions, backup and disaster recovery, and more. Managed IT services thus become essential operating expenses to maintain core functionality, rather than additional expenses applied during exceptional issue resolutions with break/fix models. MSPs enable their end-users to run their businesses more smoothly and more efficiently than they would otherwise. Additionally, they offer SaaS-based solutions at a price that can’t be achieved with in-house options.

However, managed IT services do not necessarily make the enterprise IT professional obsolete; for the end-user, an IT professional can act as an endpoint liaison that manages the relationship, provides feedback, and analyzes the reports provided by the MSP. Because the majority of routine work is being completed by the MSP, the IT professional is capable of greater efficiency and has the flexibility to tackle larger, more complex projects they would otherwise not have the time or capacity to take on.

 

Benefits of Managed IT Services

Through outsourcing managed IT services, SMBs are able to reap the benefits of receiving IT support at a significantly reduced cost in comparison to creating a comparable team in-house. Additionally, MSPs can also offer a wealth of experience from actively managing multiple client accounts that in-house teams would not collectively have.

Additionally, by using an MSP organizations are able to forecast their monthly, quarterly, and yearly expenditure on IT, and are freed from having to focus on this area of operational readiness. This allows SMBs to focus on growing their business without worrying about day-to-day IT issues or requirements.

Another benefit to managed IT services is a greater opportunity for security expertise and successfully enacted security policies. MSPs work with standards such as PCI compliance day in, day out, and should be able to steer your organization within the parameters and regulations it needs to adhere to. For some organizations, especially in finance, healthcare, educations, and other industries, this type of regulatory compliance is mandatory for the IT portion of their business, and requires the expertise and experience that a managed service provider can offer. MSPs can mitigate risk in this way while assuring that the experts in charge of your IT operations are always up to date on the latest information, technologies, and processes that will keep your infrastructure working efficiently and successfully into the future.

Source : https://www.continuum.net/resources/mspedia/managed-it-services-overview