I used to own an IT Managed Service Provider. I now help other IT businesses by providing expert advice to help IT Managed Service Providers who want to grow. But I still frequently hear the question, what is a Managed Service Provider?
Firstly – if you don’t know what an MSP then you’re not alone in wanting to ask the question – even if you work in the IT industry.
If you’re an IT company, then you might even be a Managed Service Provider (MSP) without knowing it!
So what is a Managed Service Provider?
What is a Managed Service Provider?
The definition of an IT Managed Service Provider (or MSP as it is more commonly known) can vary depending on who you speak to – but for the industry that I work in – Small and Medium-sized businesses – my definition of an MSP is an IT Solution Provider who provides their clients with:-
- 24x7x365 Monitoring and Maintenance
- An unlimited (or “all you can eat”) Helpdesk or Support function
- Vendor Management
Importantly, as an IT provider you offer all these services for a fixed fee – be that monthly (most typical), quarterly or annually.
Why would a client work with an MSP?
Most people are familiar with outsourcing – the contracting out of a business process to a third-party. When asking What is a Managed Service Provider, being an MSP means you act as the outsourced IT department to a client.
By monitoring and maintaining their IT infrastructure – often using automated tools and processes – and pro-actively looking for and resolving potential problems, you’re minimising the downtime the client experiences. They spend less time trying to fix broken IT, and more time doing what they do best – growing their business.
By offering an “all you can eat” helpdesk, you’re giving the client peace of mind that when (not if, but when!) things go wrong they can call you as little or as often as they want without worrying about the clock ticking and them incurring costs.
By managing your client’s Vendors, you’re giving them a “one-stop shop” for enquiries. Rather than contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP) when their Broadband goes down – they contact you and you deal with the issue on their behalf. This saves them time and money going back and forth between their Vendors and their expert.
By offering all of these services to your client at a fixed fee, you’re allowing your client to effectively budget for their IT.
Managed Services is a win-win situation for the provider and for the client. By minimising the issues your client experiences, you’re minimising the time you spend fixing their stuff – and maximising the profit you make. From the clients perspective, by minimising the time they experience with broken IT – you’re maximising the time they can spend growing their business and making money.
Lots of IT professionals ask the question what is a Managed Service Provider?
If you’re still selling your time for money, fixing issues as they arise for your clients and billing them for the hours you spend doing so (commonly known as “Break/Fix”) then you probably aren’t a Managed Service Provider.
If you’re providing your services on a fixed fee basis, pro-actively looking to reduce the issues a client has and minimise the time you spend fixing their problems – you probably are a Managed Service Provider.
The bottom line is – regardless of what your definition of what a Managed Service Provider is, if you look to offer value as opposed to selling time, you can probably call yourself an MSP.