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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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What Are the Top 5 IT Challenges for SMBs in 2017?

Posted January 27, 2017by Lily Teplow

What Are the Top 5 IT Challenges for SMBs in 2017.png

For most small- and medium- sized businesses (SMBs), IT is not their core function, but it’s necessary in making their business run. Most of these businesses want IT to work for them, but fear it will become a costly time suck that can take away from their primary business objectives. As today’s technology levels the playing field for SMBs, they’re now making the connection between strong IT investment and improved business performance.

However, the IT landscape continues to quickly change and shift – causing new challenges to emerge that forward-thinking SMBs need to consider as they grow their business. So, what exactly are these challenges and how can SMBs address them by investing in your managed IT services?

For SMBs to be most successful in the long-term, they need to embrace technology as a primary means for achieving their business objectives, instead of simply a support mechanism for day­‐to-day operations. Technology should be driving new business for them, but most SMBs still struggle with this because of their lack of IT knowledge and resources. So, what’s the secret to enabling IT to work more strategically? The answer is managed IT services. As an MSP, you need to position your services as a cost-effective way to extend SMB IT talent, free-up skilled resources, accomplish business goals and most importantly, help them overcome their ongoing IT challenges. According to Techaisle’s SMB and Midmarket Survey, there are 10 major IT challenges SMBs are facing in 2017, but let’s break down the top five.

1. Budget Constraints

Lack of financial resources has been at the top of the list for quite some time now. SMBs continue to feel financial pressures when it comes to truly achieving their IT goals, especially when resources and budget become limited. If you really think about it, there are a lot of costs involved in a solid IT strategy. Whether it be cost of hardware, software, network infrastructure, maintenance and labor – the list can go on and on. To top it all off, most SMBs don’t have the budget for their internal IT departments to support all of this.

Fortunately, one of the biggest values of managed services is greater cost savings. By handing-off their IT services to a trusted technology partner, SMBs can free up time for their in-house professionals to think more strategically – which, in turn, increases overall profitability. With your help, they’ll be able to build out an IT infrastructure that is needed to support their growth. Instead of having an overburdened internal IT staff, clients will experience greater efficiency and cost savings by leveraging your services. They won’t have to deal with onboarding new employees or costly training processes because an MSP can provide scalable IT services that can be customized to their needs – all at a fixed cost.

2. Maintaining Current IT Structure

This year, staying innovative and competitive is more important than ever for SMBs. Many consider technology as the key to propelling their business forward, yet their challenge is that building these solid IT systems is more complicated than ever. To focus on business issues while still taking full advantage of their IT operations, many SMBs are turning to managed IT services.

Your clients don’t want to have to worry about the reliability of their network, or the state of their IT environment every day. They choose to work with an MSP because you act as an extension of their team and can provide the 24x7x365 support they need. You can also help design the right digital environment for your clients’ unique requirements and provide a fully-managed solution. With services such as RMM and the security suite you offer, you’re able to detect potential disturbances and vulnerabilities and resolve any problems before they develop into more critical threats. Security has become a very dynamic beast, and staying one step ahead of cybercriminals requires constant vigilance. Luckily, SMBs can turn to you. When you offer fully managed IT support, you can often troubleshoot and remediate glitches before your clients even know about them. Not only are they paying you for your technical knowledge and expertise, they know that you will worry about these things for them.

3. Mobile Security in a More Mobile Workforce

IT mobility has evolved well beyond simply connecting on-the-go. The use of mobile applications and devices are embedded into today’s workforce. However, this mobility can backfire if it’s poorly managed. Desktops, smartphones, operating systems and the like all transmit and store data – causing them to now require strict security measures.

Many SMBs don’t have a well-planned mobile security strategy, but this is where mobile device management (MDM) is most beneficial. MDM is one of the best ways to stay in control of today’s mobile workforce and keep data secure, so clients are protected from becoming the next headline in a major data loss incident. And as their trusted partner, you can advise them on how to better integrate mobility with their existing IT infrastructure. Along these lines, if your clients are offering e-commerce on their website, you can also assist them with their compliance needs in regards to PCI security standards.

4. Data Management

Businesses are continuing to undergo digital transformation, which results in data becoming a much more critical asset. Many SMBs have never managed data as a primary resource, yet they rely on it for data for day-to-day operations, customer understanding and essential business metrics. Due to the excessive data growth, the need for data management has climbed higher on the SMB priority list. Not to mention the need to protect and secure all of that data. Accidental data loss can happen at any time and can have a lasting negative impact for any business. To safeguard against this, SMBs need strong business continuity and disaster recovery plans to ensure downtime is minimized and their data is easily accessible. Investing in managed services and implementing a business continuity solution allows SMBs to not only maximize employee productivity, but ensure data privacy and protection at all times.

5. Closing the IT Skills Gap

Most SMBs have the same IT needs as larger organizations, but they don’t always have the same resources and bandwidth. Because of this, finding qualified and talented people remains an on-going challenge – one that can have significant impact on the operations and effectiveness of their business.

Let’s face it, most non-technical business executives have no or little technical training. To address this skills gap and bandwidth constraints, SMBs can leverage an MSP who has a better understanding of IT systems and appropriate levels of skills and experience. Basic, time-consuming IT functions can be outsourced to an MSP to provide comprehensive support for a fraction of the cost of maintaining an on-site IT staff. Essentially, turning to a managed services provider will help SMBs maximize their employee productivity, better allocate their internal staff resources and increase their overall operational efficiency.
 

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Meet Lily Teplow! After majoring in Communications and French, Lily graduated from South Carolina's Furman University and now takes on her new role as Content Marketing Associate and Blog Manager at Continuum. In her spare time, Lily enjoys singing, traveling, and cheering on her favorite Boston sports teams!

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