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What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

An MSP (Managed Service Provider) is a company that remotely manages a business's IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. MSPs are typically utilised by small to medium-sized businesses that may not have the expertise or resources to maintain an IT department internally. By outsourcing these functions to an MSP, businesses can focus more on their core activities while potentially reducing IT operational costs.

The scope of services an MSP offers can vary widely but often include the following:

  • IT Support: Providing ongoing support for IT systems, including hardware and software troubleshooting.

  • Network Services: Managing and monitoring network infrastructure to ensure connectivity and security.

  • Cyber Security: Implementing security measures like firewalls, virus protection, and intrusion detection systems to protect data.

  • Cloud Services: Hosting and managing applications, data storage, and computing resources in the cloud.

  • Data Backup and Recovery: Ensuring that critical business data is regularly backed up and can be quickly restored in case of loss.

  • Software Management: Updating and managing applications and software licenses.

Unlike traditional IT support services that address problems as and when they happen, MSPs offer ongoing, dedicated support services aimed at preventing problems before they impact your business.

This approach streamlines your operations and significantly reduces the chance of downtime costing you hard-earned cash.

Read this guide from Ratcliff IT to learn about how an MSP's offerings could transform your company.


Understanding How Managed Service Providers Work

Before we find out exactly how an MSP can help you, let's make sure we have a clear idea of what managed services entail.

MSPs handle various functions such as monitoring, management, and problem resolution for both hardware and software operations.


Core Functions of MSPs

Here are some of the main duties they carry out.

  1. Proactive Monitoring and Management: MSPs continuously oversee IT systems to identify and resolve issues before they worsen, ensuring minimal downtime.

  2. Cyber Security Services: They implement cyber security measures to protect information from threats and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

  3. Data Backup and Recovery: MSPs offer automated data backup solutions and swift recovery services to protect you from data loss and allow business continuity.

  4. Cloud Services: They manage and optimise cloud computing, providing scalability and access to advanced technologies.

  5. Consultative Support and Training: MSPs provide expertise and training to help businesses maximise their IT investments and adapt to new technological breakthroughs.





Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)

Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) is fundamental to the services provided by Managed Service Providers (MSPs). It enables the proactive management of IT systems, ensuring that potential issues are identified and addressed before they can impact business operations.

Seeking to provide complete support, MSPs often integrate RMM with on-site assistance. This approach not only offers the operational efficiency of remote oversight but also the tailored, immediate support of on-site services when needed.



The Role of MSPs in Modern Business

Managed Service Providers are playing an increasingly important role in modern business.


The Evolution of the MSP

Today's MSPs are seeking to be relevant to a range of industries. They are innovating to offer their cyber security and other services to a far wider range of sectors. Such is the growth of technology, that IT is used in virtually every business, meaning an MSP's offerings are increasingly sought-after.

This evolution reflects the shifting demands within IT, as more and more businesses are seeking complete, strategic IT solutions that go above and beyond maintenance.

As a result, MSPs now play a key role in helping organisations use technology to drive innovation and maintain competitive advantage.


Aligning MSPs with Business Goals

Before partnering with any MSP, go through our checklist of questions to ask yourself.

How does the MSP handle communication? Ensure they prioritise open dialogue, keep you in the loop, and are responsive to your needs.

Can the MSP provide a tailored support package? Ask whether they offer bespoke solutions that cater specifically to your business requirements.

What is their approach to long-term partnerships? Determine if the MSP is interested in a long-term relationship that allows them to deeply understand and grow with your business, so you can achieve mutual success.

How will they support your business objectives? Confirm that their services are designed to enhance your operations and help achieve your strategic goals.


Industry Focus

Let's see how an MSP might change their emphasis depending on the sector they're working with.


Investment Management

In Investment Management, a sector where large volumes of sensitive data are involved, MSPs focus on a high level of cyber security. The Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) security standards must be met, and these legal requirements are subject to change. Not only this, but business partners may have their own data concerns. Flexible consultancy is necessary to keep an investment management business's reputation intact and keep it out of trouble from the authorities.


Property Asset Management

In contrast, in the realm of property asset management, while cyber security is also important, there is a greater emphasis on a customer-focused approach. Information must be easily accessible so that the customer experience is of the highest quality and advice is personalised. With a focus on the customer, client satisfaction will be high.


The Benefits of Partnering with an MSP

Starting a long-term partnership with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) like us at Ratcliff IT can drastically improve your operations and strategy. So, let's find out exactly what the benefits are.

One of the most important positives that people point to when they talk about having an MSP is cost efficiency. Variable IT costs that can be huge, particularly if your business is growing, are converted into fixed expenses without any surprises.

Proactive Support and Maintenance is another key facet of expert MSP services. Round-the-clock monitoring of systems is the only way to detect and resolve issues before they escalate. As a result, there is less downtime and your IT systems will be more reliable. If your network is down or compromised that will hit you in the pocket and cause unnecessary stress.

There's no substitute for years of experience and expertise in a range of complex IT environments. This means that your business can be flexible and scalable. With extensive knowledge and a team of experts with an understanding of the latest software and hardware technology, an MSP will know the best solutions for your business as it grows and changes. They also stay abreast of legal requirements, which is particularly important if you're in an industry littered with compliance obligations.


Increased Security

An MSP will prioritise enhanced security measures to protect against hostile cyber threats. Regular evaluation and ongoing maintenance of cyber security protocols means data is protected and industry standards are met. Given the rising number of attacks on small and medium-sized businesses, cyber security is more important than ever. Government agencies hire MSPs too and put trust in their knowledge.

Cyber security solutions include training and Cyber Essentials certification so that investors, suppliers, and customers have peace of mind when working with you. It could also mean lower insurance premiums too.

Finally, partnering with an MSP allows businesses to focus on their core objectives. Outsourcing IT management frees up management and resources, enabling firms to concentrate on growth and innovation without being bogged down by IT.


Choosing the Right MSP for Your Business

Now we've seen just how important choosing an MSP is for ensuring the long-term success of your IT infrastructure, and in turn your company.

As you evaluate potential partners, make sure that you think about what we've discussed, but above all find a provider that is renowned for a commitment to their clients and their teams. Any organisation that focuses on building a long-term partnership could be a promising fit for your company.


If you're looking for an MSP who will take time to get to know, and genuinely care about your business then have a chat with us so we make some service-level agreements and help reach your goals.

Book a no-strings intro call today


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Here are the questions people would like addressed about Managed Service Providers (MSPs).

What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a specialised company that proactively manages and assumes responsibility for a range of IT services for businesses, operating under a subscription model. This is distinct from traditional IT support, which typically reacts to issues as they arise. MSPs offer comprehensive, ongoing management and monitoring of a company’s IT infrastructure, ensuring not just problem resolution but also system optimisation and strategic tech planning. This approach allows businesses to benefit from high-level IT expertise and regular updates, leading to improved reliability and performance without the complexities of managing these systems in-house.

Do I need a Managed Service Provider?

Deciding whether you need a Managed Service Provider (MSP) depends on several factors related to your business’s IT demands and strategic goals. If your organisation struggles with IT-related downtime, lacks in-house expertise to handle complex IT environments, or requires better cyber security measures, partnering with an MSP can be immensely beneficial.

An MSP provides proactive IT management, ensuring systems are optimised for performance. For businesses looking to scale, reduce IT expenses, improve operational efficiency, or improve technological agility, an MSP offers a cost-effective solution that supports growth while allowing you to concentrate on day-to-day activities.