managed IT services

What should be included in your managed IT services agreement

Contracting with a managed IT services provider (MSP) is an important business decision. It will affect the efficiency and productivity of your IT infrastructure. In turn, that determines how much time you, as a business owner, spend watching over IT issues.

You know, when you should be concentrating on business.

When researching, you should measure what each potential provider has to offer. Determine if which ones can cover all your business needs before signing any contracts.

A reliable managed IT service provider should be able to recommend ways to make your business IT environment more effective both in cost and function.

Making that happen means providing you with a full range of services. Each potential MSP must, at the very least, be able to offer these important services before you even consider them further.

Tech support on-site and/or remote

Any number of problems can rear their ugly heads during the course of a business day. Your IT setup could run into software issues, hardware breakdowns, network problems, user errors or malware attacks.

Having tech support available on a 24-hour basis, 365 days a year, can go a long way to making sure that you can avoid prolonged interruption. That enables you to concentrate on keeping operations running smoothly.

A managed IT service provider should have options for both on-site support (with a fully-trained technician available to diagnose and firmly solve your IT problems) and for easily reachable helpdesk support who are able to provide remote solutions quickly and efficiently.

Data backup and disaster recovery

Your company’s data is a precious resource and deserves the best protection available. This means regularly scheduled backups—ideally following the 3-2-1 rule of three copies, two backup copies on different media, and at least one copy stored off-site.

As important as backing up data, so, too, is having a disaster recovery plan.

Your disaster recovery plan protects you from data loss in the event of natural catastrophic events, hardware failure or cyberattack. Data loss can adversely affect not only your bottom line, but also customer confidence.

Downtime should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Cybersecurity and network monitoring

According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, 58% of malware attack victims were categorized as small businesses.

New forms of cyberattack appear constantly and it’s difficult to keep up with the latest threats. A managed IT service provider has the resources to keep up with the latest risks. Not only that, but your MSP should be able to both communicate those threats to you and your employees, guiding you to take the necessary steps to defend your network from those threats.

The capability to monitor your network for potential attacks or other suspicious activity is crucial to protecting your data and avoiding expensive downtime.

Infrastructure management

IT management services should be able to look at your current IT infrastructure and provide solid advice on how to make the most of what you have. They should also be able to help you plot a course for the future, advising you on things like hardware and software upgrades that fit your budget and needs.

There are numerous facets to infrastructure management they should also be able to handle including network administration, server maintenance, storage maintenance, and network reliability.

Your IT infrastructure is an important part of your business and can, understandably, take a lot of work to maintain. Having someone else handle your infrastructure management means you’re free to focus on your customers and growing your business.

And let’s not forget the cloud.

Cloud computing is fast becoming central to most businesses. A company that does not have a sensible cloud computing solution as part of its infrastructure runs the risk of being left behind. In working with the cloud, a managed IT service needs to not only be able to offer sensible cloud options for your business, but protocols to address the security of your data and safeguards to ensure your cloud’s reliability.

Ability to help manage mobile components of your IT

When handling your business’s mobile devices, a managed IT services provider should be able to help guide you in forming policies and procedures to cover reliable connectivity and sensible security.

Employees on the road should be able to make use of your network seamlessly when it comes time for placing orders, sending reports, and sending or receiving important customer information. Dependability is a must.

Related to that, awareness and avoidance of cyber threats is just as important—if not more so.

According to Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report, malware variants for mobile devices increased by 54 percent the previous year. An MSP that has your business interests at heart should be able to advise you in best practices designed to protect your mobile device from cybercriminals.

A sense of business partnership

Finally, a managed IT service provider should be a partner you can trust. You want to know they will grow with you as your needs develop.

You’re essentially inviting a managed IT service provider to become a member of your business family. You want to feel secure in that partnership.

Don’t be afraid to demand the very best.