What is a Managed Service Provider? My definition of an MSP


What is a Managed Service Provider?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.

Managed Service ProviderBy 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.

Managed Services is a win-win situation for the provider and for the client Click to Tweet


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.

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  • Richard Tubb2022-03-14 14:26:37

    Thanks for the kind words, Wayne!

  • Wayne Walker2022-03-11 14:32:05

    The article was very informative which I have already shared with my colleagues and they loved it. Thanks again.

  • Richard Tubb2022-01-20 11:39:44

    Thanks for the kind feedback, Wayne!

  • Wayne Walker2022-01-18 11:46:29

    Great read on the various advantages of obtaining MSPs for a smoother and safer flow on business transactions. Thanks for this.

  • Richard Tubb2021-10-12 17:09:10

    Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your resource, Riya!

  • Riya2021-10-12 06:57:19

    Great read!! I have a piece of content "10 Ways A Managed Service Provider Can Boost Your Business Growth", this can give a brief idea to the readers on how MSP can boost up the business growth. Here is the link : https://www.rapyder.com/blogs/10-ways-managed-service-provider-can-boost-business-growth/

  • Richard Tubb2019-11-21 13:12:30

    Thanks, William! I'm glad you found it useful.

  • williyamhunter2019-11-21 10:35:40

    Nice Article! Thanks for Sharing.

  • Richard Tubb2013-08-13 17:20:31

    Craig - thanks for sharing your article. It's an excellent read and I'd agree, the term "MSP" is one used by IT providers within our own industry - not a term used by clients.

  • Craig Sharp2013-08-08 12:25:51

    Excellent as always Richard. It's a good point, outlining what an MSP actually is, as few clients know and think of us all as IT Support - a term so out of date as to be useless as a term now. You pick on a few strands that I covered in a recent Blog I wrote called 'Whats the SP on MSP's' - it might be of interest to those reading this piece : https://www.abussi.co.uk/2013/01/tales-of-an-it-professional-whats-the-sp-on-msps/

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