The top 7 ways data backup builds a better business

Could you imagine business life without data? From your clients’ information to files on the latest projects, all your data plays a central role in helping your business move forward. It’s often the case that businesses don’t realize how important data is until it’s gone. Because of this, it’s hard to understate just how necessary data backup is. If it hasn’t been one of your primary concerns recently, now’s the time to learn about how it builds a better business.

Your business becomes more reliable    

Although local data storage comes with its perks, it’s also risky in the event of a complete hard drive failure. Losing the contents of your hard drive means that your data is gone forever. The exception to this is if you use an additional form of local storage, although there’s always a chance that could fail too.

If you want to avoid the perils of a hard drive failure, consider using cloud storage as a backup. When your data enters the cloud, you don’t need to worry about what will happen if your hard drive fails. You can continue using local storage but your business becomes more reliable because of your contingency plan.

You reduce the cost of downtime

According to some studies, data downtime can cost as much as $1 million dollars per incident. Let’s say your data becomes inaccessible for some reason. Said reason could be anything from an electrical failure to having to move offices due to an adverse weather event. When this happens, not having a data backup plan results in you having to close your business until the problem is over.

When you consider that some adverse weather events can last for days at a time, closing your business is less than ideal. In extreme cases, the recovery period following severe weather events lasts for weeks. This could mean a significant loss of revenue, which you become responsible for.

Having a managed backup plan means you can access your data, even when the worst happens. Although you won’t always be able to run your business at full capacity, having access to the essentials prevents a complete shutdown and helps you continue with as much normality as you can manage.

Employees enjoying their teamwork.

Your IT team has an easier workload

IT teams dedicate a startling amount of time to frontline tasks such as data recovery. From small lost files through to significant wipeouts, it’s almost as though they’re firefighting in a digital world.

Of course, your IT team’s job isn’t all about managing data losses. They have other tasks to tend to too, but they may not have enough time to tackle them. By using a data backup service, you ensure that your IT team can do more than just tackle file losses. They’ll also have the chance to focus on tasks such as network security and other important elements of IT management.

You’ll find that data backup is easy

Local backup comes with a draining downside: everything is manual. Transferring files to your hard drive is a lengthy process and if you lose power in the middle of it, you need to start all over again.

In contrast, data backup using a remote facility requires little more than a few clicks. Depending on the type of plan you choose, you may also find that it’s automatic. When you and your IT team don’t need to dedicate as much time to backing up data, you can direct your processes to other areas of your business and help it thrive.

You get professional input from a tech team

In most cases, using a data backup service means you’re turning to an external team of tech professionals. They’ll oversee the backup process and they’ll manage any problems that come with it.

Having a team of professionals on your side also means someone’s there to manage any security problems. This means there are fewer drains on your business’s resources and your data backup takes place without you having to give it a second thought.

Your business is globally ready

If you want to do business internationally, you need to ensure your business is globally ready. The use of cloud storage allows you to achieve this in a couple of ways.

First, your data is available no matter where you are. This makes you incredibly flexible as you’ll no longer need to take external hard drives with you.

Second, cloud backup usually comes with super-tough encryption. As different countries have different security policies, the use of a cloud facility increases the likelihood that you’re compliant with the regulations of the country you’re doing business in. As a result, you may not need to make major adjustments to your processes to guarantee that you can press ahead with your plans.

Your data is more secure overall

On the topic of security, using a data backup service means your information is more secure overall. As the per-record cost of a data breach is between $120 and $600, it’s clear that most businesses cannot afford major failures in this area.

Unlike local hard drives, cloud backup benefits from security that’s near-impossible to break through. That doesn’t mean that breaches don’t happen but they’re far less likely to happen when compared with local storage.

In exchange for your increased security, you prevent a potentially significant loss of revenue. Additionally, you avoid a catastrophe that could harm your business’s reputation. Even large businesses struggle to recover from data breaches. Worryingly, data loss can slow your revenue growth by 22%. Arguably, it’s harder to bounce back when you’re running a small or medium-sized organization.

There are many business benefits to data backup. You can reassure your clients that you’re reliable, continue managing your business during a power loss, and reduce the likelihood of a big fine following a data loss.

What to consider when selecting and implementing an ERP system

Selecting and implementing a new enterprise resource planning (aka ERP) software is a huge pain for many businesses. That’s largely because of the inherent costs and logistical challenges that it poses.

You’ve got to consider all of the licensing dollars, maintenance, training, time, and more that goes into making the switch. It’s a common concern for business. Nearly 50% of companies are soon planning (or have already started) to acquire and upgrade their ERP system.

To make the implementation as painless as possible, you’ll want to ensure that you do your homework on selecting the right software ahead of time.

Lucky for you, you’re reading something that can help you out.

Here’s what you need to know before you implement your new ERP system.

Consider your organization’s needs

ERP software can vary greatly in terms of software capabilities.

Keep in mind your needs, both in the present and the future. The last thing you’d want to do is spend on a system that is a bad fit for your business. That goes for both overkill (too many features that cost a lot and aren’t relevant to your business) and underkill (limited features that save money, but can’t fulfill your needs).

Did you know? According to Panorama’s ERP report, the most common reason to implement ERP was to improve business performance.

Additionally, you’ll want to look into ERP software that’s relevant to your industry and company needs. It’s always a plus if you’ve got the tools that are custom-crafted to answer your unique issues.

Key takeaways:

  • Define the scope of the project and your organizational needs
  • Study the capabilities of potential ERP software to prevent a bad fit
  • Seek out a system that works within your vertical

Consider the flexibility and ease of use

You’ll be relying on your ERP software a whole lot. Choose a system that both has the features you need AND offers an intuitive user interface that works for your staff.

Pragmatically, that means having customization options that present the exact data that specific people need to see – and nothing else. If you need to create weird workarounds and frustrating loopholes to get work done within the ERP system, you should look for a better fit.

Additionally, make sure that your ERP system fits the needs of the modern business. It’s extremely beneficial to get a system that’s cloud accessible so you can work from wherever you are. That’s also true for mobile compatibility, which is quickly growing in adoption and usage in the ERP space.

Key takeaways:

  • Test out the ERP software first to see if it’s easy to use and intuitive
  • Ensure that it’s customizable to your needs
  • (Optional) See if it’s mobile and cloud-friendly and accessible

Consider the long-term ROI

Remember that ERP software is a means to an end – that is, growing your business and becoming more profitable than before.

While the immediate costs are something you should definitely consider, also keep the total cost of ownership (TCO) in the back of your mind. If your ERP system can evolve to fit your growing needs, you’ll find that the TCO is well worth it overall.

It’s easy to go overboard with costs. In fact, 64% of ERP projects go over budget.  That’s why it’s important to calculate the tangible ROI math of your ERP software. We like Acumatica’s calulator for that purpose.

Key takeaways:

  • Determine not just the initial costs, but the overall costs of the ERP software
  • Partner with an expert to help you determine ROI and TCO

To help with understanding the costs and implementation feasibility, it’s always a smart move to partner with an ERP systems expert. The value that they add comes in handy when determining which ERP platform is best for you in terms of capabilities, costs, implementation, and more.

6 not-so-obvious reasons you need a business continuity plan

There’s no shortage of articles out there about business continuity plans. There are guides on creating them, horror stories about what can happen if you don’t have one, and even entire articles on why you should want one.

But we find there are some compelling reasons for creating a business continuity plan that often fall through the cracks. Today, we’re going to address some of the not-so-obvious reasons why you need one . . . and point you in the right direction if you don’t have one already.

The plans you don’t want to need

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. No one likes talking about business continuity. It’s the plan you hope you never need. The only time your BC plan is going to go into effect is when something has gone terribly wrong.

It’s understandable that so many business leaders find the topic to be an unpleasant one.

But that’s no excuse for avoiding it altogether. And it’s not enough to just have a plan. You need a comprehensive plan to minimize downtime and keep all your critical business operations running, no matter what.

The not-so-obvious strategic reasons for business continuity

As mentioned before, there are a lot of reasons why business continuity matters. What follows here are some of the reasons that often get overlooked.

But just because these reasons aren’t as obvious doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them when building out your business continuity plan.

1. Disasters come in all shapes and sizes

When you think of “disasters,” you likely think of the big stuff—hurricanes, floods, fires and epic snow storms. But there are plenty of little disasters that can just as easily disrupt normal business operations.

For example, power outages, equipment failure and even planned downtime for things like updates and upgrades will take your network offline just like a major disaster. When that happens, your business continuity plan can kick in and help your staff stay productive while the network is offline.

Related: Data backup and security best practices

2. The aftershocks of a disaster can be as devastating the disaster

Any kind of network downtime comes with what one article called “the ripple effect.” The ripple effect plays out in two ways.

First, when your tech solutions are offline it affects more than just the rest of your network. It affects your entire business, from internal communications to customer service. The disruption reverberates.

Second, bouncing back after downtime isn’t as simple as turning everything back on. You’ll have to recover from any processes changes you were forced to make during the downtime, as well. That may mean going back and entering data or taking care of non-critical tasks you skipped during the downtime.

The better your business continuity plan, the less impact both “ripples” will have.

3. Customer expectations are unrealistically high

Your customers expect you to remain operational no matter what. Is that always reasonable? No. Is it still what they expect? Yes.

The difference between the companies that come out of a disaster looking good and those who shut down as a result comes down (in part) to how they handle that expectation. You may not be able to operate normally during a disaster, but if you can maintain core operations, your customers will notice.

On the other hand, if you can’t and your competitors can, they’ll notice that, too.

4. Your employees are going to freak out

Your employees are human. They’re going to be affected by a disaster just like your business operations. The worse the disaster, the more frazzled they’ll be.

The absolute worst scenario is an emergency with no plan. Then you can add chaos to the list of challenges. But a solid business continuity plan will help set everyone’s mind at ease, allowing your employees to focus on keeping the business running rather than their stress.

Related: 4 communication fundamentals that should be in every disaster recovery plan

5. Cyberattacks are basically inevitable

There is one kind of disaster we left out of our list all the way back at #1—cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks are unavoidable. 67% of SMBs have already experienced a cyberattack, and those who haven’t should fully expect to be forced to fend off cybercriminals at some point in the near future.

Your business continuity plan is one more layer of protection from cyberattacks. How so? If your network is pulled offline, your BC plan can help you maintain operations just the same way it would if your building burned to the ground.

6. Something is better than nothing

Finally, there’s one more reason you should establish some kind of business continuity plan, even if the very idea of it makes you feel out of your depth. Something is better than nothing. We mean that.

Is a thorough BC plan better? Of course. But even a half-baked plan will give you resources when you need them most. Plus, you can always build on an initial plan later, fleshing it out and making it even more strategic.

Just don’t ignore business continuity altogether.

If you don’t have a plan

If you have no BC plan right now and you’d like to start building one, we strongly recommend that you contact your managed IT services provider. They’re best situated to help.

Keep reading: 4 strategic benefits of working with a managed IT services provider

Why your IT strategy should align with your business strategy

When you think about it, the title of this article seems unnecessary. Of course IT strategy should align with business strategy. As a business leader, you almost certainly agree.

But knowing that intuitively and knowing how to make it a reality are two different things. And that’s what we’re going to focus on here. Why is IT strategy so integral to business strategy, and how do you align the two?

The challenge of getting strategic with your IT

For many SMBs, a lack of IT strategy isn’t by design. SMB leaders frequently wear multiple hats, with way more on their plates than seems humanly possible. Not to mention the fact that small businesses don’t typically have a vast cash surplus just sitting around waiting to be spent.

These practical concerns—time and money—lead a lot of small business leaders to a simple (albeit unfortunate) solution: Make do with the tech tools you have, piecing together something that mostly works even if it’s not ideal.

That’s not much of an IT strategy. Frankly, you deserve better.

IT strategy is business strategy

Before we get to the tips, there’s a foundational statement worth making. IT strategy matters not because it helps with business strategy but because it is business strategy.

It’s practically unthinkable to do business in today’s world without the appropriate tech tools. And the solutions you choose will literally contribute to (or get in the way of) every single business process that keeps your company going.

If you don’t currently have an IT strategy, you’re missing a key part of your overall business strategy.

“Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of SMBs indicate technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives . . .” – CompTIA

How to develop your own IT strategy

Now that all the philosophical stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you go about building an IT strategy?

Below are 6 steps to get you started.

1. Know your business objectives

First and foremost, you need to know what your current business targets are. Do you have an annual revenue goal? A different metric for growth? A geographical region you want to break into? A headcount you’re aiming for?

Whatever your goals as an organization, you need to know those first. Your strategy—business and IT—should align with your goals.

“ . . . this process of alignment requires you to educate others and yourself to deep dive into the business.” – CIO

2. Make it about people

This may sound counterintuitive since we’re talking about IT strategy, but the best approach possible is one that puts people first.

That’s why technology exists—to serve people. Always think about how your business technology affects both customers and employees. If it’s inconvenient, confusing, disruptive or unnecessarily time-consuming, it’s time to rethink your tech solutions.

3. Write it down

As you begin to sort through your business goals, the impact you have (and want to have) on customers and employees, and possible changes to your current IT structure, be sure to take thorough notes. Write down every single detail. Seriously.

A plan you can reference, build on and come back to isn’t going to be of much practical value if the details aren’t specific to your business goals.

4. Be prepared to be flexible

Technology is constantly changing. The tools that are best-in-class today will be forgotten tomorrow. (Remember when Yahoo! was the go-to search engine? Or when everyone had a BlackBerry?)

Your IT strategy isn’t going to be a one-and-done kind of thing. You’ll need to remain agile, ready to re-evaluate and make changes as needed. Never get too attached to any one way of working with tech.

5. Take your business to the cloud

One thing that helps a great deal with flexibility is cloud computing. Cloud solutions are more fluid by nature. As general business needs change, cloud app providers have no choice but to keep up—and you benefit.

Just make sure you do your homework before going all in on any single cloud solution.

“. . . cloud computing has become an integral part of the overall information technology strategy for many enterprises.” – TechRepublic

6. Don’t forget about cybersecurity

Finally, keep cybersecurity in mind at all times. There are all kinds of inexpensive tech options out there, but not all of them are security-focused.

Before you decide on a cloud storage option or a new ERP solution, be sure to ask some serious questions about the security measures in place. Efficiency and convenience at the cost of data security is hardly a smart trade.

Next-level IT strategy

We have one more tip for when you’re ready to take your IT strategic planning to the next level. Find a managed IT services provider you can trust to assist.

An MSP can provide a level of guidance and support you’ll almost certainly benefit from. In the meantime, use the above tips to get more strategic with your IT solutions right now.

Your step-by-step guide to running a complete network audit

Running a complete internal network audit may sound intimidating, but it is something you can do right now to protect your network against data breaches. In fact, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you take it a step at a time it can be both manageable and affordable.

We have put together this simple guide to help walk you through the network audit process. Each step can and should be completed on its own, before moving on to the next step in the process:

  1. Define the scope
  2. Assess threats
  3. Evaluate security performance
  4. Prioritize risks
  5. Formulate solutions

You can’t do any harm to your system through the assessment process, but you can always call in a professional for assistance if you feel unsure about how to proceed or think you are in over your head at any point.

1. Define the scope

The first step in the auditing process is to define the scope of your audit. To do this you will need to make a list of all your assets. For the purposes of this audit, you should include all devices that may handle or secure data (both on-site and off-site). This would include computers, firewalls, servers, mobile devices, and more.

Next consider things that would require time and/or money to fix, such as data, equipment, and facilities. Give yourself plenty of time to compile this list, and consider bringing in another team member to help you avoid overlooking anything important.

Once you have your list you must decide the actual scope of the audit. It is not reasonable to expect that can audit all of these things at once. Create two more lists: things you will audit and things you won’t. Choose your most valuable assets to put into the audit list. These items will receive your focus for the remainder of the audit.

Related reading: 10 ways your failing at IT audits[1] 

2. Assess threats

Next, take your audit list – the list of valuable assets that you decided on in step 1 – and begin to make a corresponding list of threats and potential threats. You may have multiple threats for each asset item on the list, and some threats may be duplicated. The important thing is to be thorough.

3. Evaluate security performance

Now that you have your lists of assets and corresponding threats, it is time to think about how your security performs. Look at each of the threats on the list and consider your current cybersecurity setup. You need to evaluate your company’s ability to respond to each of these threats.

This is where some external help can be very helpful. Bringing in an outside provider to do penetration testing or otherwise assess your security performance is highly recommended to give you an honest, unbiased assessment of the state of your network security.

Related reading: Take back your company with our AppSolute care[2] 

4. Prioritize risks

Once you know where your network’s weaknesses are and what the biggest threats are to your infrastructure, you need to prioritize the risks. This is a crucial step.

Take your list of threats and any information gleaned from your security performance assessment and consider how much damage each item can cause, as well as the likelihood of occurrence and the cost of recovery. Using this risk information, re-prioritize your list. Consider taking into account your organization’s history, industry trends, compliance requirements, customer relationships, and staff needs.

5. Formulate solutions

The final step is the most straightforward. Now that you have the critical details, direct insight and a list of priorities, it is time to act on that information.

Starting at the top of your priority list, begin working through what security adjustments or improvements you need to address the assessed risks. Don’t overlook the value of “basic” fixes like employee education, strong password policies, and regularly backing up your files.

Take action

Your managed services provider can offer expert insight, advice and support in determining how best to act on the results of your network audit to keep your business moving securely ahead.

Cyber Threats in 2019

What is your cyber threat response strategy?

The cyber threats the business community faces continue to grow, increasing the importance of having a multi-layered approach to protecting your data.

Find out more during our webinar presented via partnership with Datto and Barracuda.

Cyber Threats in 2019: Ransomware Continues to Evolve –

Don’t Let Your Guard Down

Thursday, May 9 | 12:00 – 12:45 p.m. ET

REGISTER NOW

In partnership with Datto and Barracuda.

4 strategic benefits of working with a managed IT services provider

Growing small and mid-sized businesses face many challenges that stand in between them and success. IT is the largest obstacle of all. SMBs without strong IT support and services are at a competitive disadvantage. Additionally, these firms are also far more vulnerable to everything from cyber attacks to natural disasters.

Working with a trusted managed IT services provider ensures SMBs can stay ahead of the game. If you’re a company with no on-site IT, enlisting a partner provides peace of mind when it comes to your technology and frees you to focus on more pressing issues.  

Even if you already have an IT department in place, a managed IT services provider can still help. For example, current staff can be allowed to pursue larger projects designed to spur business growth while the managed IT services provider focuses on day-to-day operations.

Whatever the case may be, SMBs can take advantage of several strategic benefits when working with a managed IT services provider.

Stay productive

As an SMB grows, issues such as downtime become more noticeable. Inefficiency is something that can stunt the progress of many SMBs, and there is nothing more inefficient than paying staff not to work.  

ITIC’s 2017 Reliability and Hourly Cost of Downtime Trends Survey found 47 percent of SMBs, companies with up to 150 employees, estimated that a single hour of downtime would cost their business $100,000 in lost revenue and end-user productivity. And according to research from the Aberdeen Group, businesses experience 14.1 hours of IT downtime annually.  

The cost of this downtime is significant for most SMBs even if it falls under these averages. This cost is why partnering with a managed IT services provider can make a huge difference. With proactive IT support along with constant monitoring, potential issues can be identified and eliminated. The money that would have been lost due to downtime can instead be re-invested into the company.

Your technology umbrella

Unpredictable weather can bring with it dire consequences for SMBs that are unprepared. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster such as a hurricane or tropical storm. While these events used to be rare in New York City, strong storms with flooding are becoming a more common occurrence.   

And while the physical damage can be costly, it is the downtime and loss of data that dooms most SMBs. Without a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan in place, it can be difficult to get everything back up and running. This is where a managed IT services provider can be of use. By creating off-site or cloud backups, your data will always be available regardless of what your company faces. With these backups, you can minimize downtime and keep your business going in the face of adversity.   

Gain access to cutting-edge tools

Have you ever seen big businesses using IT devices and programs that you think would be great for your company? Well, partnering with a managed IT services provider can give you access to the same tools the big firms use without needing to make a significant investment. They can help create a proactive plan to ensure your business can utilize IT devices and programs that provide a competitive edge.

Protect yourself from cyber attacks

As an SMB acquires more data, cybersecurity is something that must be taken into consideration. The 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB) report from the Ponemon Institute contained some staggering findings. More than 60 percent of SMBs surveyed said they had encountered a cyber attack. Of this group, 54 percent were victims of data breaches involving customer and employee information and the average cost of these attacks was more than $1 million when all factors were taken into consideration.

Strong security is another valuable strategic benefit of working with a managed IT services provider. They utilize virus and spam protection systems that work around the clock searching for threats such as ransomware that can derail your business at a moment’s notice.  

More importantly, you don’t have to worry about constantly upgrading your IT security as the managed IT services provider will be doing that automatically. Instead of cutting corners and possibly endangering your business with strained security measures, you get a robust security partner, allowing you to focus on important business decisions.

5 things you probably don’t know about cloud-based ERP (but should)

Cloud-based computing services have become ubiquitous in the business IT environment. From critical infrastructure and communication platforms to collaboration applications, cloud solutions are quickly overtaking traditional on-premise solutions. Despite the increased acceptance of cloud services, ERP is making the shift at a slower rate, despite sharing a number of similarities with the cloud computing philosophy.

Research and advisory firm IDC estimates that 70% of companies’ core applications currently run on-premises or in co-location facilities. But Statista forecasts the cloud ERP market at $28.8 billion by 2022, with just 8% compound annual growth since 2016. In fact, surveys from other research firms indicate a majority of corporate teams expect a focus on off-premise cloud technology in 2020.

An ERP system is designed to manage and automate core operational activity on a single integrated software platform, from product planning and development to sales and marketing. Businesses benefit greatly when they have central access to shared data with a single application and user interface. Cloud-based ERP solutions extend these benefits into new territory with hybrid environments and dedicated cloud-based models.

Let’s look at five things you should know about cloud-based ERP so your business can take advantage of the best in modern enterprise technology.

1. Cloud-based ERP software is accessible and affordable

While ERP has long been associated with enterprise organizations and even specific industries, the cost benefits and operational advantages of integrated software now more widely available because of the cloud computing model. From health care and hospitality through to transportation and financial services, businesses of all sizes can benefit from cloud-based ERP solutions.

The ability to share operational resources offers increased cost advantages to anyone who relies on integration of multiple databases and software applications.

2. Cloud-based ERP increases flexibility

Despite the benefits of an integrated approach, on-site ERP solutions can create problems when business needs, processes or demands change. Instead of getting tied down by complex, expensive hardware and software, more businesses are migrating to a cloud setup.

Cloud-based ERP solutions are capable of enabling much greater organizational flexibility to adopt, adapt, and maintain key services quickly and efficiently.

3. Cloud-based ERP improves scalability

Cloud-based ERP solutions are much more scalable than comparable onsite solutions. Along with avoiding many of the upfront costs associated with computing infrastructure, cloud services allow you to update your commitments and scope as you grow and evolve. This is a particular advantage to small and medium businesses who don’t have access to unlimited capital.

By avoiding expensive hardware costs and restrictive software licenses, you can budget more effectively and focus your efforts on running your business. Having the ability to scale resources up or down according to seasonal, operational and market demand is a major advantage to any business.

4. Cloud-based ERP enhances agility

Agility, or the ability to operate and adapt quickly, is a crucial aspect of cloud computing. Rather than relying on slow infrastructure and outdated technology, cloud-based ERP gives you the speed and power of a much larger organization. The opportunity to adopt software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions with the latest technology advances increases agility across industry sectors.

If you need to expand your capabilities, the added capability to develop, test, and launch software applications quickly is integral to business growth.

5. Cloud-based ERP ensures security

Cloud-based ERP ensures privacy, data security, and compliance in the case of data or network disruption. Whether it’s a cyberattack, a natural disaster, or human error, cloud-based ERP ensures the safety of your data at all times. According to a study by TechnoUSA, 94 percent of all businesses think their security is improved due to cloud services.

Regular backup services are integrated into ERP solutions, along with other important security features like multi-factor authentication, multiple data centers, geographically decentralized infrastructure, regular hardware maintenance, and a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.

Working with an IT partner like AppSolute that experienced in ERP is the best way to ensure the successful implementation, customization, and maintenance of a cloud-based ERP system.

Maximize your financial investment with managed IT services

More and more small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are discovering the enormous benefits that come from outsourcing. Technology makes this possible in ways never before feasible. For some SMBs, though, outsourcing IT services may be a new concept. When you find the right managed service provider (MSP) to provide the IT services that best fit your organization’s needs, you will see improvements across the board.

From improved security and expanded resources to reduced costs and downtime – opportunities abound to maximize your return on investment (ROI) with a managed service provider.

Improved security

In its 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon concluded that 58% of all cyber attacks target small businesses. With an MSP monitoring your network and managing your cybersecurity, you can feel confident your business is fully protected. MSPs take care of keeping all systems and software up to date and patched. They also proactively safeguard your business by assessing your system for vulnerabilities and taking the time to address any concerns.

With an MSP on your team, you can rest easy knowing that the job of defending your data and business operations is in good hands. Many MSPs offer backup and data security options that are scalable, depending on the size of your business and needs. They may even offer assistance with business continuity and disaster recovery planning.

Related reading: The critical elements of a disaster recovery plan

Access to resources

One of the outstanding and sometimes overlooked benefits of partnering with an MSP is access to a wealth of specialized knowledge and expert resources. Many MSPs offer consulting services and other options to share their considerable combined knowledge to support their clients’ technology requirements. Whether you need advice on purchasing a new computer or handling a potential data breach, when you sign with an MSP you gain a whole team of experts to rely on.

Related reading: How to get the most from a managed service provider

Reduced costs

It might seem too good to be true. A whole team of experts, and it’s supposed to save you money, too? It’s true, though. Let’s break it down. If you manage your own IT services on-site, you have to pay for IT staff, servers, equipment, and the cost to maintain the equipment. If you choose to outsource your IT services with an MSP, you pay a monthly fee. You do not need to hire extra staff or purchase and maintain expensive servers.

As your business grows or your needs change you can make changes in your contract with the MSP, and your monthly rate will be adjusted accordingly.

Related reading: Common technology problems solved by an MSP

Reduced downtime

There are few things more frustrating and stressful than dealing with regular bouts of downtime, especially when you are trying to run a business. With so much of day-to-day operations relying on technology and the web, every minute of downtime is costing you money. If downtime has been an issue, a managed service provider can help to address this right away without ever interfering with your operations.

They can identify network and system bottlenecks and upgrade and patch software and hardware, all while you continue mission-critical work.

Overall, smaller organizations can maximize their investment with a managed services provider by taking advantage of the expertise, efficiencies, and gains in extending your team and optimizing business technology.

What are the 5 most compelling reasons for managed IT services?

What is it about managed IT services that make them so appealing to businesses?

For starters, they allow businesses to shed the tedious (and challenging) task of managing technology and put it in the hands of experts. Many companies are already working with a “reactive” IT provider to some degree – that is, someone who been coming in to fix things only after they’ve broken.

But managed IT services changes the break/fix dynamic by putting proactive care of technology first.

It’s a win-win for both customers and IT service providers alike. IT service providers get to build partnerships that help them grow and sustain their business. Similarly, business owners get to unlock multiple benefits that they’d otherwise never get.

Let’s take a look at 5 of those benefits.

1. Reduced costs

Here’s a core business truth – broken technology quickly racks up a hefty bill. Managed services give you access to a team of IT experts whenever you need them for a flat monthly rate. The costs are far less than an in-house team with similar experience or a break-fix provider that charges by the hour.

2. Improved security

It’s not always about keeping things operational. Managed service providers also take great care to keep both your hardware and your software secure from dangerous cyberthreats that could cost you dearly.

The average cost of a single cyberattack sits around $5 million, with $1.25 million – a quarter of the total – attributed to system downtime and another $1.5 million (30%) to IT and end-user productivity loss.

3. Expedited growth

Partnering with a managed service provider gives you access to tools that enable better growth and scalability. Having a technology partner that understands your business lets you gain a CIO that can roadmap and plan your technology to support your growth with ample documentation along the way.

Helpful: 5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks to Better Support Your Business

4. Expert collaboration

Many organizations assume that outsourced IT providers “take over” everything IT. In reality, that’s not always the case. Managed services agreements are built to customize offerings to the unique needs of each company.

“Co-managed IT services can provide businesses with a broad range of experience and deep bench of experts beyond that of the existing in-house staff.” – The Business Journals

Of course, while that can mean taking over every aspect of IT, it can also mean working with an established in-house team to complete projects and upgrades together.

5. Functional technology

There’s little worse than subjecting your staff to the tortures of working with old and outdated hardware. Managed service partners ensure that your office is using technology that fits within your budget … while being conducive to a productive and functional environment … and not one that incites rage.

Related: Common Technology Problems Solved By an MSP

Finding the right IT partner

Locating the right partner doesn’t have to be hard. It’s simply a matter of talking to a managed service provider and seeing how they can help you run your business better.

Of course, before you go seeking all the IT people in the Tri-State Area, you could always give us a shot. We can help you turn your technology into a powerful asset for your business growth.

Looking for more to read? Check out the 6 IT Best Practices for Your Business.