Strategic IT planning for your business

Strategic IT planning for your business

One thing that the best MSP can do is become a strategic partner. Your expertise is your industry, business, or profession. Trends and innovations in technology aren’t your focus. However, your business can benefit from some long-term strategic planning in terms of the technology you will deploy to remain competitive. New technology will offer new opportunities. An MSP who has experience in your industry can become a partner. After taking the time to learn your business, your goals, and the competitive field in which you operate, an MSP can take a seat at the table of your business planning. At the highest level, this is where a skilled MSP becomes a significant asset as your business grows and faces new market challenges.

Additionally, An MSP can help with other parts of your IT infrastructure to protect your data as well as facilitate more effective collaboration internally as well as with clients. Here are three examples.

Backup and recovery

Another area related to data security is the process of securing your data in the event of theft, a hardware or software issue, or even a natural disaster that cuts access to your data’s physical location. Backing up your data needs to involve a lot more than running nightly backup to an external drive. That may be ok for your home laptop, but it doesn’t cut it if you want to protect your business data. An MSP can support continual data backup to offsite locations. This means at any point there is a system failure or breach, all of your data remains secure at one or more distant locations. Backup also includes recovery. Having your data safely stored in the event of a disaster isn’t enough. Your business will need continuing access to that data. An MSP can develop recovery plans that work to ensure your operations see minimal disruption in the event of a failure. Also, clean backups are critical for avoiding the consequences of a ransomware attack. Poorly handled back procedures can leave your data vulnerable,

Cloud Services

The decision to use cloud services is closely related to data security and cybercrime. Locating all of your data and software applications physically in your own location may seem like the safest thing to do, but that may not be correct. If you utilize cloud storage, you can maintain access to that data from any location. If a natural disaster or other emergency limits access to your physical locations or disables it, your business and employees can access the data from anywhere. Also, the cloud offers economies of scale. To maintain sufficient capacity to meet peak times, maintain all of the necessary hardware and software, and monitor it 24/7 involves considerable in-house labor and capital expense. Migrating to the cloud means you share those fixed costs with others. An MSP can handle selecting and designing a cloud solution most appropriate to the needs of your specific industry and business.

Unified Communications

Unified communications is a service that pulls together the different channels your employees and clients use to collaborate, sell, communicate, etc. Unified communications systems have many moving parts. Encryption, data security, ease of use, cross platform support as well as other support services can create a communications system that works for everyone, no matter what channel they choose to be using.

Like it or not, you business relies on technology

Like it or not, your business relies on technology

Technology isn’t just something used by Silicon valley firms and large corporations. Even the smallest start-up is now reliant on technology and the virtual marketplace. A business cannot function without operating in the digital world. At the very least, it means having a website, a social media presence and an online database of customers and prospects. Most likely it means conducting business online, which means you’re responsible for the security of client data: names, credit cards, addresses, and probably more information. Much of that information may be personal Information that you have an obligation to keep secure. That duty brings along many challenges because cyber criminals and even benign human error could mean that data is compromised. Data breaches can bring litigation, possible regulatory sanctions, and very importantly, damage to your brand and reputation. Because so much rides on the stability and security of your digital infrastructure, serious attention has to be paid to data security protocols. The problem is, tech is a complex and specialized field that most small businesses owners have little time to focus on. And spending time trying to understand and maintain an IT infrastructure means siphoning off attention to the operation of your business. That is why a Managed Service provider can be a lifesaver for a small business.

A Managed Service provider is an IT consultant that can provide some or all of the support you need for your IT infrastructure. They can provide help with specific issues–migrating data to the cloud, setting up new software and hardware, designing data security protocol, etc,. They can also become a strategic partner. That means they team with you and learn your business goals and plans and help you understand how new and existing technology can help your business expand. They can use their expertise to guide you to new technologies and digital applications you might not be aware of.

Also, you can sign a service contract with an MSP. At the most basic level, a service contract will mean that if you need emergency tech support, you have priority. Otherwise, you will be at the bottom of the list if something goes wrong.

Finally, let’s consider strategic planning. Your business isn’t static, It will grow in volume, it will expand its product and service lines, and it will move into entirely new, unfamiliar markets. There may be new technologies and applications out there that you are unaware of. If you overlook them and your competitors don’t, you can begin to lag behind. You need long-term strategic planning in terms of the technology you will deploy to remain competitive. New technology will offer new opportunities. An MSP who has experience in your industry can become a partner. FInd an MSP who will partner with your business and learn your operations and your future plans. In that way they don’t just support the IT you have now, they become a key voice in strategic planning for future growth.

How Can an MSP Keep Your Business Safe?

How Can an MSP Keep Your Business Safe?

Are you a small- or medium-sized business that is in need of a more complete, dependable IT solution to support your business than you presently have? When your main focus is running your business, everything else becomes an afterthought. Other support operations tend to take a backseat. However, your business depends upon a reliable, stable “always running” IT infrastructure and you probably find that isn’t always the case. Even if you have an in-house staff, it isn’t large enough to put out fires and handle strategic planning and provide 24/7 support when something goes wrong. That is why many businesses large and small rely fully or partially on the support of a Managed Service Provider (MSP).

So what are the typical services available from an MSP? There are many different types of support that can be provided to clients. In this e-guide we will break them down.

Managed IT Services

This is the overarching set of services that define the purpose of an MSP. Generally, a business will sign a service level contract with an MSP for a set of defined IT services for a period of time. One advantage typically derived from such an agreement is that the contract provides that you get 24/7 emergency support with priority. Typically, if you have a crisis and call a provider, the non-contract clients take a lower priority. This can mean longer down times and those mean revenue losses. Also, your contract with an MSP means that you can do a better job predicting your IT expenses into the future, and predictability is always a benefit for any enterprise.

Cyber Security Services

One specific area of expertise that everyone needs, no matter how small the business, is up-to-date, ongoing protection against data theft and cyber crimes. An MSP can bring a depth of knowledge that is difficult to create in-house. Ransomware and data theft are rampant. Cyber criminals attack businesses of any size ( in fact, small ones can be more vulnerable. And smaller businesses often don’t have the deep pockets to recover from the revenue losses of a cyber attack). This is a very specialized sector of IT management where businesses frequently choose to use the services of an MSP because of its complexity. Also, keeping up-to-date with the latest malware, and handling 24/7 monitoring can be very labor intensive if done in-house.

Compliance Management

  • There are a number of data protection laws (HIPAA, FERPA, CA Privacy Act, GDPR, FTC Safeguards Rule) out there that not only provide penalties if a data breach occurs, many of them mandate specific protocols to better ensure your data is protected. Avoiding a data breach isn’t enough. Some of these protocols can be quite demanding and some require periodic testing and are subject to audits. Samples of the types of requirements mandated by some of these laws may include.
  • Designating one individual to oversee data protection and security
  • Conducting a risk assessment – This means analyzing what data you possess, where it is stored, and in what ways it is vulnerable.
  • Creating safeguards to address all potential areas of vulnerability
  • Designing and documenting tools to secure your data and tracking access
  • Tracing the location and security of all data whether it is at rest or in transit.

An MSP can be a critical resource in designing these safety measures and ensuring your company is in compliance and remains so. Handling compliance issues and audits can be a big distraction when you are trying to run your business and drive revenues.