3 Ways Managed Services Solve SMB Business Challenges

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often encounter challenges in overseeing their IT infrastructure within a landscape progressively ruled by innovative digital technology solutions.

Whether it’s cloud, cyber security, data analytics, or artificial intelligence (AI), there’s a lot to keep track of today – in addition to general costs, training, monitoring, maintenance and fixes. 

As an SMB, you may have limited IT resources to adopt these new solutions or resolve issues. resulting in lost productivity, hindered business growth and potential cyber threats. Keeping up with evolving technology and regulations feels like a losing battle. Your competitive edge suffers.

Managed service providers (MSPs), also known as managed IT services, are your secret weapon to fight these challenges head-on, by shifting the entire burden of your IT to IT experts. 

Most importantly, such support frees you to focus on what matters most: growing your business.

Here are 3 ways managed IT services help SMBs solve their business challenges.

1. MSPs streamline your processes and maximize efficiency

Manual IT tasks consume valuable time that could be spent driving key objectives or innovation. 

Whether your IT infrastructure is on-premises, cloud-based, or hybrid cloud, there are always many hardware and software systems to monitor, maintain and deploy for your workforce.

Patching servers, troubleshooting email errors, watching for any security breaches, integrating a new application, and setting up new networks are not simple tasks just anyone can complete. 

There are technical challenges, both expected and unexpected, to consider, and time that needs to be allocated accordingly. For SMBs that don’t have a dedicated IT department, it can be quite a challenge to attend alongside your regular business workflows. But insufficient expertise often leads to inefficient processes that hinder productivity and create vulnerabilities. 

Which is why MSPs specifically cater for SMBs who may need outside assistance to help manage their unique IT environment by taking over these tasks entirely. MSPs can help you significantly streamline your operations and maximize efficiency in several different ways:

Automated remote monitoring:

MSPs utilize advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools to continuously oversee and manage your IT infrastructure. Automation allows for early detection and resolution of issues before they escalate, ensuring systems run smoothly while reducing downtime. Being remote, MSPs can quickly attend to systems, servers and network devices and ensure they are functioning optimally. For instance, if a server’s performance starts to degrade, the MSP can remotely diagnose and fix the issue, often before your team even notices a problem.

Proactive maintenance:

Rather than reacting to issues as they arise, MSPs adopt a proactive approach to maintenance of your systems. On top of automated remote monitoring, this includes regularly scheduled updates, patches, and preventive measures to minimize the risk of system failures and security breaches, ensuring your systems are constantly reliable and efficient, and without one of your team having to ask.

Continuously available support:

MSPs offer 24/7 help desk support to address IT issues as they arise. This support is often tiered based on managed IT services pricing models, ranging from basic troubleshooting to more complex technical challenges. For example, if an employee is unable to access a critical application, they can contact the help desk, and a technician can remotely access their workstation to resolve the issue, minimizing downtime and frustration.

Strategic IT Consulting:

Beyond day-to-day management and troubleshooting, MSPs offer strategic consulting to help SMBs plan IT roadmaps. This can include advising on technology investments, digital transformation initiatives, and IT budget planning. For example, an MSP might recommend you invest in a particular type of productivity software that integrates with your existing tools, improving workflow and efficiency.

Vendor management:

As an SMB, you typically work with multiple technology vendors for software, hardware, and services. MSPs take on the responsibility of managing these vendor relationships, including negotiations, renewals, and troubleshooting. This relieves you from the complex and time-consuming task of vendor coordination, and opens up more time to focus on your core business activities or other priorities.

Customized IT solutions:

Recognizing that each business has unique needs, MSPs tailor their services and solutions to fit the specific requirements of your business. This customization ensures that your IT infrastructure and processes are optimized for the specific operational workflow of the business, enhancing efficiency and productivity.

Overall, by engaging with a MSP, you gain standardized processes, streamlined workflows, and reduced risk of errors. Your team can also focus on high-value work, boosting productivity and overall efficiency.

Business Outcome: Streamlined operations, more time for business goals, and reduced downtime.

Managed services offer ongoing and proactive security measures

2. Managed services provide continuous and proactive security

Layered atop of your standard IT tasks is the maintenance and management your cyber security, application security and network security protections, which require continuous and proactive oversight to safeguard against cyber attacks, data breaches and other malicious threats (especially following IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report, which revealed the global average cost of a data breach reached a record high of $4.45 million USD).

Building a strong security posture for your IT environment and sensitive business data requires more than just the deployment of cyber security software. It’s a significant task made up of several processes, technologies and systems, ranging from data, endpoint, network and cloud security, identity and access management, risk management, compliance, and more of which you can read about in SparkNav’s Ultimate Guide to Cybersecurity (if you have not already).

With SMBs increasingly targeted by cyber attacks, attending to these tasks is non-optional. But having someone in the company that has both the expertise and time to own your cyber security posture is another matter. MSPs can act as your proactive and knowledgeable partner in this crucial area, bolstering your defenses in several ways:

Backup and disaster recovery:

MSPs implement sophisticated business backup solutions that regularly save critical business data to a secure, off-site location. They also design and execute disaster recovery (DR) plans to ensure business continuity. For example, if a ransomware attack encrypts your company’s files, or a staff member unintentionally loses data, the MSP can restore the data from the most recent backup, minimizing downtime and data loss.

Managed cyber security services:

MSPs implement layered security measures and maintenance for SMB clients, including antivirus software, email filtering, software patching management and endpoint protection. MSPs also deploy and manage firewalls to control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an applied rule set to protect your network against unauthorized access. For instance, they might adjust settings to block traffic from suspicious IP addresses identified by proactive network monitoring.

Cyber resilience training:

Cyber security protects against both external and internal threats, and one way MSPs help SMBs in this regard is in cyber awareness training, which gets your internal teams up-to-speed on the latest dangers that can lead to intentional and unintentional data breaches, system vulnerabilities, phishing, social engineering, and more, and the best practices to follow to prevent them from happening.

Regular security assessments and audits:

MSPs conduct thorough security assessments and audits of your IT environment to identify vulnerabilities and potential threats. For example, they might simulate a phishing attack to gauge employee awareness and readiness, helping to pinpoint areas where additional training or evaluation is needed. They also conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and rectify potential security gaps, providing peace-of-mind on always knowing of your ability to withstand threats.

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) and Single-Sign On (SSO):

MSPs set up MFA across your systems and applications to add an extra layer of security beyond just passwords. This means even if a password is compromised, unauthorized users cannot access your systems without the additional verification factor, such as a code sent to a mobile device. In addition, SSO solutions are implemented to simplify access management across multiple applications and services while enhancing security, enabling your employees to use one set of login credentials to access all the applications they need, reducing the number of passwords they must remember and decreasing the likelihood of password-related breaches.

Threat Intelligence:

MSPs leverage advanced threat intelligence feeds, such as managed SIEM (security information and event management) systems to stay ahead of emerging cybersecurity threats. This information allows them to proactively adjust your security measures in anticipation of new types of cyberattacks, and minimize false positives. For example, if a new form of ransomware is spreading globally, your MSP can implement specific defenses to protect your business before it becomes a direct threat.

These are just some of the many ways MSPs help SMBs build a strong cyber security posture and keep up-to-date with the latest threats and concerns that accompany the ever-evolving technology landscape. By engaging with a MSP, you can unlock proactive, continuous security management that is difficult to maintain without an existing dedicated IT expert or department.

Solve SMB Business Challenges

3. MSPs optimize IT costs and boost ROI

Managing costs for controlled expenses and strategic growth comes hand-in-hand with managing IT infrastructure, as unpredictable IT expenses create a huge problem for budgeting. Hardware failures, software updates, and hidden service fees can all eat away at a SMB’s limited resources, too, making financial planning a constant worry. These surprise costs also limit your ability to grow revenue, and can even threaten your bottom line if left unmanaged. 

Managed IT services are all about helping SMBs streamline their IT spending while enhancing efficiency and ensuring ROI. They achieve cost optimization through expertise, and most importantly, remove that burden from your everyday workflows via the following domains:

Competitive connections:

As part of their services, MSPs leverage their buying power to secure competitive rates on hardware and software for your deployment and negotiate better rates and terms on your behalf, further optimizing your IT spend. This frees up internal resources for strategic investments and fuels sustainable growth. It also reduces costs associated with overlapping services, ensuring you’re not paying for redundant functionalities and maximizing the value of each IT-related investment.

Cloud management:

By optimizing your cloud usage, MSPs ensure you’re only paying for the managed cloud resources you need. They meticulously monitor and adjust your services to align with your business demands, allowing for precise scalability. For instance, during peak seasons when demand is high, your cloud resources can be scaled up, and scaled down during slower periods to keep costs in check. This tailored approach avoids unnecessary spending on unused capacity and ensures your cloud investment directly supports business growth.

Network optimization:

MSPs fine-tune your network for optimal performance, ensuring that your operations run smoothly with minimal latency or disruption. This optimization involves configuring your network layout and settings to handle your specific traffic patterns efficiently, reducing the need for emergency interventions and the downtime they entail. For example, by implementing quality of service (QoS) rules, MSPs prioritize critical business applications, ensuring they have the bandwidth they need during crucial times. This proactive network management prevents costly downtimes, boosting your overall operational efficiency and ROI.

IT audits:

Through continuous and thorough IT audits, MSPs identify inefficiencies and redundancies in your IT infrastructure that can be eliminated, reallocating those funds to areas with a higher ROI. These audits examine everything from software licenses and hardware to cloud services and data storage solutions, ensuring that every aspect of your IT environment is optimized for cost-effectiveness and aligned with your business objectives. For example, an audit might reveal underutilized software licenses that can be canceled or renegotiated, or outdated hardware that can be replaced with more cost-effective cloud services, focusing your IT spending on resources that deliver the most value to your business.

Moving away from reactive IT spending to one that is proactive, strategic and optimized is ultimately a very good reason to consider the consulting services of a MSP, even if you already have a handle on your general infrastructure management and cyber security posture.

Next steps: Finding the right MSP for your challenges

The best MSPs are those that provide fully customized, specially tailored IT solutions that help you unlock the full potential of your business beyond just mere service. Providing support, monitoring and management is the core of what managed services do, but it’s the vendors that commit to your growth as a SMB with long-term consulting and a strategic partnership which will ensure the best chances of success.

SparkNav’s Managed IT services offer strategic IT solutions built for the numerous business challenges of today, across cyber security, costs, cloud, network, compliance and more. Speak to one of our team to learn how we can help address any IT obstacles and unlock IT excellence.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
As COO, Robert Griffin plays an instrumental role in aligning operational excellence with strategic goals by leveraging his decades of experience in enterprise leadership. With deep knowledge and expertise in security, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and AI, his insights are often shared through thought leadership channels, including LinkedIn and blogs. → Follow Robert on LinkedIn.