At some point, most businesses will need to make a decision about how to handle the information technology (IT) needs of the business. These needs can evolve based on...
Ever since the “tech stack” became a common term in the world of commerce, small and medium-sized businesses have been dealing with an increasingly complex array of technologies to drive operations. Managing the hardware, multiple SaaS applications, mobile POS devices, cloud-based storage and the constant concerns about cybersecurity is challenging. Few businesses in this category have dedicated, full-time, in-house IT support, and it’s often left to an employee to manage along with their other work. That’s why you need a managed service provider for your SMB, and why outsourcing would eliminate these nine network challenges.
9 Small Business Network Challenges a Managed Service Provider Would Eliminate
1. Lack of Knowledge
Most people know something about technology these days, but that doesn’t mean they’re wired to handle your company’s IT function. Just because Mike in Sales knows how your CRM operates does NOT qualify him to oversee important software upgrades or network management. The lack of appropriate IT skills is one of the main challenges facing most small businesses, and it’s the first problem outsourcing to a managed IT services provider would remove. End the hassle of trying to find someone internally to resolve each new IT problem that develops, and get help from a company with the right competencies.
2. Delayed Problem Resolution
It’s really difficult for anyone on your team to work effectively when critical systems are down, or operating at a compromised pace. When you experience slow performance, random glitches, or network downtime, you don’t want to have to wait for your in-house IT person to get out of that meeting and come over to provide support services. And even if you do, what are your chances of hitting a brick wall with his or her lack of knowledge? If that happens, you’ll be all systems no-go until you can find out the solution and implement it.
3. Security Risk
It’s debatable whether this one should be first on the list, but we’ll leave it here because the other two are also so very important. A high percentage of cyberattacks target small businesses, which lose an average of $80,000 from each successful attack according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report. That makes it mission-critical to keep your network secure from phishing, hacking, ransomware and data theft.
Doing so requires whoever handles your IT to be on top of developments in the cybersecurity world and to ensure all software upgrades take place in a timely fashion. Up-to-date software is your first line of defense against attacks, and proper protection for your network, VPN, and data is your second. Using a managed services provider (MSP) would eliminate the significant challenge data security poses for your SMB.
4. Keeping Software Updated
There are other reasons to keep your software up to date than cybersecurity. Updates improve the stability of the applications you use for your business processes and remove outdated features. This enhances user experience and allows you to make the most of new functionalities as they are developed. The software programs in your tech stack were all chosen for their ability to perform useful tasks, so there’s value in keeping them operating at their best.
An experienced small business managed service provider will be able to handle upgrades on all applications for you, and will usually do these after-hours and from a remote location. That means no more downtime during busy working hours while your IT person updates the system.
5. Managing IT Documentation
Whether you have 3 software applications in your tech stack or 30, keeping track of everything can be more than a challenge. Serial or activation numbers, purchase and renewal dates, upgrades, version requirements, compatibilities, vendor contact details—all these need to be recorded and stored in a place where they are easy to find, even in small and medium businesses.
It’s incredibly annoying and unproductive to find a program that needs to be removed and reinstalled and nobody knows where to find the activation key. Do you really want to add that to the job description of Mike in Sales? How does this impact IT management and security? What happens if he leaves unexpectedly? When you partner with an MSP, you can sleep easy at night knowing that all these issues are taken care of.
6. Doing Regular Maintenance
When you don’t change the oil in your car or keep up with basic home maintenance, sooner or later you end up with expensive repair bills. If your busy in-house “IT person” doesn’t have the time to run regular maintenance checks and scripts, you’ll likely find out the hard way that it hasn’t been done. While cloud-based services go a long way towards eliminating the need for hardware maintenance, if you’re using any legacy systems or still running a server, it’s essential to do the upkeep required.
7. Predictable Costs
You might have learned to expect the unexpected in business, but that doesn’t make handling the cost of unexpected IT problems any easier. Emergencies happen, and if you haven’t budgeted for contingencies you’ll have to find the money somewhere. Maintenance tasks alone can eat up payroll hours, triggering the need for overtime work or for calling in an IT tech for ad hoc work. When you’re working with an MSP, your monthly fee is a single line item that doesn’t change for the duration of the contract. Now that’s predictability that rocks.
Your IT operations might be size-appropriate now, but if you’re on a major growth path or you’re implementing new data-intensive methods of operating, that might not be the case later. You need to choose systems that can give you the capacity you need today while meeting tomorrow’s expansion demands. You also need to ensure you have the right human resources to manage the expansion and scale with your business. There’s a fine line between under- and over-specifying, too, and paying for more than you currently need isn’t economically viable either, but an MSP for SMB can help you avoid this scenario!
9. No Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan
There are many things you can prepare for when it comes to your IT operations, but these don’t usually include security breaches or natural disasters. A backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan isn’t only for large companies. In fact, they could be even more vital for small businesses, which stand to experience significant losses if they can’t access their systems and data. Working with an MSP will give you the competencies you need to put a plan in place that ensures you can go on operating regardless of what happens.
These nine challenges are some of the reasons why you need a managed service provider for your SMB, but they are by no means the only benefits to be had. Outsourcing your IT management to a qualified service provider also gives you peace of mind and reassurance that you can expect your systems to be up at all times. If issues arise, they’re dealt with quickly and efficiently, and much of the time the work is done remotely. This reduces delays caused by travel and after-hours problems. Working with an MSP also gives you an excellent way to predict and contain your costs, and leaves your employees free to handle their regular work when they are no longer required to manage IT.
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