A business owner thinking about choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

5 Questions to Consider When Choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

What is the Role of a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP)?

One of the biggest misconceptions about working with a managed IT services company is the idea that you have to replace your IT department.

However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Managed Services companies are usually brought in to augment and assist existing IT personnel.

Small and medium sized businesses often hire a managed IT services company to provide the same support they would have with an advanced IT department at a lower cost.

Co-managed IT services are options as well. Co-management services are for businesses that already have an IT department but want to improve upon it while taking advantage of the cost savings and structure of an MSP.

The benefits of a managed services company are numerous. For one thing, they handle application and network security issues while lightning the workload for I.T. departments.

Every business wants to grow, but growing too fast comes with its burdens as well. Rapid, exponential growth could start putting a strain on your resources and time. IT is no exception.

But, should you make the decision of hiring a managed IT services company, you have to know what to look for and what questions to ask.

Unfortunately, business owners fail to consider some very important factors when choosing an MSP that is right for them.

Here are 5 questions businesses should consider when choosing to partner an MSP.

1) How should I Leverage my IT?

Outsourcing all of regular applications and security to an MSP doesn’t rid you of responsibility. It’s still very important that you develop a strategy alongside your IT department and review it with the Managed services provider.

Businesses have to stay in the know when it comes to IT solutions and requirements. An MSP might know your industry well, but only you know your company.

As a business owner you need to discuss compliance, security, infrastructure and strategy regularly and frequently. This ensures the MSP is doing their jobs according to your business goals and complimenting them.

2) Does MSP size matter?

Some providers gain popularity simply because they are large. But that doesn’t make them right for your business. Especially since they are so large that establishing a point of contact is nearly impossible.

This is a big problem among large public cloud providers. Public cloud providers have so many clients that they don’t have the time to cater to a individual client’s needs. It devolves into a tenant/landlord relationship rather than a partnership.

You are sharing their services with other businesses and they don’t have time to review your concerns. There are even cases where support is sold separately from the cloud service.

At the end of the day an MSP is an extension of your business, not a business unto itself. They are there to consult and contribute but not control. Choose a provider that is transparent and easy to access.

Which leads me to mistake number three.

3) Are they responsive when I need their support?

Downtime is a significant issue for all businesses. However, not all MSP’s act accordingly when it comes it comes to downtime.

Choosing a provider that fails to properly respond to down time is particularly horrible because it can be frustrating, agonizing and terrifying.

Imagine your business goes down and not only is the response time slow, but support is nearly unreachable. The average response time for a large MSP is 5.5 hours. They often market themselves in a way that de-emphasizes their response time in favor of their durable network and security. But, that’s just a trick.

A great MSP has multiple alert systems and responds to downtime in twelve minutes or less. Anything beyond that is negligence. It doesn’t matter how popular, “efficient” or “secure” an MSP is when during an outage or downtime they’re nowhere to be found.

54 percent of companies experienced a downtime event that lasted more than eight hours. That means over half of all companies, regardless of size, experience downtime of over a full work day. Furthermore, that could lead to massive hits in profit and revenue.

According to a Ponemon Institute Study, the average cost of an outage is $9,000 per minute. Let that sink in. Eight hours, sixty minutes an hour, $9,000 per minute. Let that sink in.

4) How can I trust they really know my industry?

All MSP’s are different. Managed IT Services companies have resources and tools that suite different companies. Don’t assume that all MSP’s offer the same services or have the same expertise.

For example, Nerds Support provides IT for financial services companies and CPA’s. As a result, we put a heavy emphasis on cloud compliance and regulations. Financial firms are heavily regulated due to the sensitive information they work with on a regular basis. So whatever MSP a financial firm hires has to closely follow those same regulatory guidelines.

To achieve compliance we had to undergo SOC I and SOC II audits to ensure our clients felt secure relying on us with securing their data and systems.

You have to make sure you ask any potential MSP the right questions. If you want to know exactly what questions to ask a prospective MSP, check out our ongoing YouTube series Top Questions to ask Your IT Provider.

5) Is the Service Level Agreement clear and concise?

The contract between a company and a Managed IT services provider is called a Service Level Agreement, or SLA. Make sure that the contract and the agreement are clear that all relevant staff knows the ins and outs.

That includes where and when these services are available, where their servers are located, how to contact support and what is covered in the terms of billing.

The MSP should provide you with a non-disclose agreement that needs to be signed before the provider gains access to your company’s confidential data.

There should also be an understanding of how to report and analyze resources and services. If something isn’t working to your expectations, know how to report it and who to report to.

How do I Move Forward?

Now that you know the right questions to ask, it’s a matter of finding the right MSP for your business to succeed. Remember to ask yourself:

  1. Will my IT be leveraged properly?
  2. Is their MSP the right size to handle my needs?
  3. Are they responsive and proactive in their communication?
  4. Are they a specialist in my industry?
  5. Is the SLA written out clearly so both parties understand what needs to be done?

Moving forward, you’re going to want to make sure all these questions can be answered YES by which MSP you choose to partner with. As a managed service provider with almost 2 decades of experience, we want you to first and foremost have your IT needs met, no matter who you choose. We’re always here to give you advice on how to best plan your IT, even if it’s not with us at the end of the day. If you have any questions, give us a call at (305) 551-2009 or email us at [email protected], and we’ll help point you in the right direction!

Business technology being held back due to rapid growth

How to Deal with Business IT Growing Pains

As many companies continue to expand and innovate their technology, there are also plenty others that have let their IT stay behind. They believe their IT assets never generated the kind of results they anticipated, and so are hesitant to adapt a true IT provider. When you look at the core reasons for technology investment failure as a business grows, there are a few areas you’ll notice where things go wrong.

Not Making IT a Priority

This is the top blunder SMB’s make. When concentrating on growing their company, the majority of SMB’s think marketing, sales and stock, however little of them take into consideration allocating resources in the direction of their technology.

IT is viewed as costly, and is hardly ever focused on, and any sort of expenditure on IT is often made reluctantly. However, as we have seen too often, sometimes companies wait until it’s too late to invest, either after their systems break down or they have a data breach.

Adopting the Most Modern Equipment…Even if it’s Not the Most Effective for You

This remains in comparison to the problem discussed earlier. Some SMB’s recognize the essential part IT plays in their organization’s excellence. However they tend to throw caution to the wind and purchase the most up to date IT fads without considering whether it fits their company’s needs, or even if they actually need it. In some cases it is simply a case of staying up to date with the times. Yet why invest so much on the fastest PC’s or most extensive hard disks when you get only small efficiency benefits?

Make Sure Your Team is on Your Side

When you bring in brand new modern technology and IT policies, it is your team that requires to deal with it every day. If your personnel does not share your technology views or ideas, your IT financial investment is expected to be unsuccessful. Therefore, before you initiate that transition coming from regional PC’s to the cloud, or turn out an innovative BYOD policy, ensure you have your staff in your corner.

How Do I Optimize my Infrastructure?

The appeal of brand-new technology is like a glossy, brand new plaything. Acquiring one thing well-liked and after that not using it to its own optimum is widespread. Make certain you make the most of your financial investment in IT through offering your personnel along with adequate instruction on just how to use it.

IT can appear difficult to grasp when you need to do it all on your own. It necessitates steep prices when taken care of in-house. Add to that the complicated task of deciding what IT expenditure you are going to gain the most benefit from, and then educating your staff to utilize it. A Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) possesses the expertise and know-how needed to become your reliable companion, as well as instruct you on these difficulties to maximize your IT investment.

Discovering the MSP that’s Right for You!

A lot of SMB’s opt for MSP’s who can easily handle their IT demands, and mostly, it functions effectively. Just about everybody understands the benefits of having a MSP handle your IT. Increased expense savings, capability to focus on your business without thinking about IT issues, expert IT support and knowledge, etc. Yet there are times when the managed IT solution design fails, leaving behind company managers to wonder what went wrong.

You Didn’t Check for References

Did you simply choose the initial MSP you discovered on a Google search? Did you simply decide based on the discussions you had with them, or the recognitions they share online? Always keep in mind to ask your MSP for endorsements. Consult with a person they collaborate with as well as obtain reviews.

Do They Have the Right Experience?

Prior to the decision of partnering with an MSP, see to it you focus on how long they have been in business. This is essential because the whole idea responsible for choosing an MSP is to effectively measure their knowledge and proficiency. Secondly, an IT provider that has resided in the industry for fairly some time is more probable to be capable to scale alongside you as you expand.

And lastly, solely having experience sometimes isn’t enough. You need an IT provider that truly knows the in’s and out’s of your industry, one that understands the data standards that your business needs to follow in order to avoid breaking compliance regulations.

Their Team Isn’t Big Enough

If your MSP is short on personnel, they won’t have the ability to provide you the care you require. Among the greatest conveniences of partnering with an MSP is having someone who proactively takes care of and also tracks your IT demands—something impossible to do without a complete IT division. Therefore, it is imperative that your MSP is well-staffed.

They Claim to be Responsive, But…

You desire your MSP support to be accessible 24/7, because you can never truly expect when a technology concern will inevitably occur. Not simply must your MSP be proactively checking your IT framework to make certain every little thing operates properly, they must likewise have the ability to settle IT problems as they turn up, to ensure that your service is back up-and-running immediately.

As Your Business Grows, So Do Your IT Needs

As your business grows, your IT infrastructure needs to be updated and improved. You might need to have far more support as well as new modern technologies that you failed to believe you will need to have earlier. In such instances, if your MSP is not able to expand and scale with you, then the partnership won’t function. When choosing an MSP, think of the whole method as an alliance, not just a single transaction. When you take a look at the connection as a long-lasting one, you are very likely to consider all the variables that make up your MSP’s relationship to allow it to operate in the future.

If you think your business needs help finding the right MSP that fits your industry or aren’t sure if you’re ready for the investment, contact us for IT consulting advice or call us and we’ll provide the best insight we can to guide your business towards technological success!

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3 Steps Your Wealth Management Firm Can Take to Protect its Data

Relocating to the Cloud offers remarkable perks for Financial and CPA firms that range coming from lesser IT costs, to real-time accessibility, to your customer tax information and even more dependability in regards to uptime. However, records in the Cloud are also susceptible to safety and security hazards similar to data stashed on physical servers. You’re going to need to take the proper procedures to ensure success with your data security.

Here are 3 things your wealth management firm can do to protect your sensitive data in the Cloud.

1 – Protected accessibility: The primary step will be to protect access to your data in the Cloud. How should you go about it? Secure your login credentials (your user ID’s as well as passwords) from spying eyes. Prepare solid password policies that are actually practiced across the board and also teach your employees concerning really good cybersecurity hygiene.
Do you have staff members using their own devices to access their work-related requests and files? Or possibly operating working remotely from a different location? If so, you additionally need to create strong BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) policies, so these tools do not fall into the hands of cybercriminals.

2 – Teach your employees: What is actually the very first thing that comes right into your head when someone discusses cybercrime? You most likely picture some strange person, a tech-whiz sitting in front of a personal computer in a dark area, making an effort to swipe your information. Unexpected as it may appear, the first as well as the biggest risk to your records and IT security comes from your staff members!

Destructive workers may do you harm purposefully by stealing or even damaging your records, however often, employees unknowingly come to be partners to cybercrime. For example, forwarding an email with an add-on which contains a virus, or clicking on a phishing web link unknowingly and entering delicate relevant information. They could even weaken surveillance when they discuss security passwords or even attach files using an unprotected Wi-Fi in social areas like the public locales or airport terminals with a view to “get things done “, and then without recognizing just how tragic the implications of such activities can be.

3 – Choosing the best Managed Provider (MSP): If you are actually putting your sensitive tax data in the Cloud, you need to have to see to it that it is in secure hands. Because of this, it is your managed service provider’s responsibility to guarantee your data is secure while easily and consistently accessible. Are they performing all that is actually needed to ensure this occurs? It is quite essential to choose a credible Cloud provider considering that you are essentially entrusting all your records to them. Therefore, in addition to strengthening your defenses, you should inspect exactly how well-prepared they are to actually avoid the dangers created by cybercriminals.

Comprehensive Cloud security is a mix of all these plus internal plans, greatest strategies, and rules related to IT security, as well as the MSP you pick to become your Cloud surveillance company contributes a vital part in all this.

Repairing Your IT Management

Small-to-medium-sized services (SMB’s) usually tend to have a more difficult experience managing IT than much larger organizations. Despite being as innovation dependent as bigger ventures, SMB’s such as accounting and financial firms possess tighter spending plans and less information to dedicate to IT control. This leads to a much more sensitive “break-fix” approach to their modern technology that never does any type of smaller sized business or association any type of good.

If the worry rests solely on your internal IT support, and they’re also cleaning up technology messes all the time, then their skills and talents are fundamentally lost.

If there is actually no in-house technician support, and other smaller companies or institutions don’t have even one on-site “IT man”, businesses are frequently taken for a ride by more underhanded IT advisors.

“If it isn’t damaged, don’t correct it” should never be applied to the control of business technology. The price of down time can easily obliterate any kind of scarcely surviving business. The mixed effect of lost income, dropped productivity, and reduced company credibility is actually a severe hit that many wealth management firms may not be constructed to hold up against.

It pays to become practical, certainly not reactionary when regarding innovation. This requires a social switch coming from how IT has often been dealt with previously. Forget about manual procedures and say hello to a better technique for companies to satisfy their technology needs – a smarter and also more inexpensive method.

How to Succeed with Company Innovation

Be Responsive – Most of the time, it is actually the things that may not be caught beforehand that develop into pricey company disruptions. For example, a lot of the hardware, programs, as well as software failures that lead to down time situations are actually preventable; they’re simply not noticed and addressed early enough.

Wealth management firms today benefit from utilizing a Remote Surveillance and Monitoring (RMM) tool to help their existing in-house IT staff get a grasp on their workload.

An RMM device, incorporated along with an outsourced 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC), monitors your innovation all the time via one detailed user interface that is easily available using a mobile phone. This type of around-the-clock monitoring improves modern technology security. Issues could be cut short along with an alert and swift ticket settlement before they turn into major problems that interrupt day-to-day operations.

Automate/Schedule Tedious Tasks — Free the internal support personnel coming from everyday hands-on servicing and monitoring through automating a wide variety of IT security as well as surveillance duties.

Receive A Lot More From Your In-House IT — If you have any kind of in-house IT support, you have probably chose some incredibly skilled and also talented individuals that would be actually much more worthy contributors to your company if they weren’t so restricted constantly repairing issues and executing tedious tasks. Along With RMM and NOC options, financial and CPA firms can place these individuals to focus on ventures that actually matter. If you partner with a managed IT services provider, they can be freed-up to work on ideas, methods, as well as application growth that much better serve your customers, staff members, and suppliers, finally offering your organization a competitive advantage.

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The Top 8 Necessities of a Business Continuity Plan

As the old saying goes, “Life isn’t about shielding yourself from the rain, it’s about discovering to thrive in the hurricane.” However, if you’re a small business, you initially need to preserve your data from the rainfall before you can pay for to dance in the hurricane with no concern. Natural disasters and cyber-attacks can hit you unexpectedly, costing your business thousands in revenue.

Your equipment might be destroyed, your workplace may be flooded as well as your essential service information breached. While some companies can take swift action to guarantee their stock and business are safeguarded from catastrophes, many of them have a tendency to forget the risk these tragedies present to their IT facilities as well as information.

Here are the Top 8 necessities your organization should include in developing a business continuity plan.

Is Your Business Prepared for Extended Downtime?

To countless business owners, it does not seem to pose a problem– and inevitably, this is where things fall apart. Information loss as a result of a disaster or any other factor can cause considerable harm to a business, leading to extreme effects such as total service downtime. Protecting your information shouldn’t be a strategy you wait to develop until after it’s been devastated. Here are the steps you can take to alleviate the risks calamities could present to your information as well as IT framework.

  1. Acknowledge the demand for information safety, protection as well as healing in times of calamity.
  2. Combine your key resources as well as produce a group that is accountable for executing your catastrophe back-up as well as recuperation strategy.
  3. Recognize the key locations that need to be attended to. In case of a disaster, what are the procedures that absolutely need to function to maintain your service going and what is required to be done so they still operate efficiently?
  4. Prepare a strong catastrophe recovery-business continuity plan. You can employ your in-house IT group or bring a managed it services provider onboard to do this.
  5. Create a checklist of all the software programs, applications and also equipment that are vital to your service process.
  6. Take account of floor plans, physical access information, entry-exit protection codes or anything pertaining to your business in the plan.
  7. Include material about your backups in the calamity recuperation and company strategy.
  8. Conduct simulated drills as well as audits to guarantee your strategy is executable and also provides you the intended outcomes.

All of this can feel like an immense undertaking, specifically with an organization to manage and a disaster to be on the look-out for! That’s why most SMB’s count on trusted managed service providers to do it for them, while they focus on their core area– running their service and partners.

Don’t Let a Disaster Blow your Data Away!

An unanticipated emergency situation can wipe out your service, however a proper information continuity strategy can aid in its endurance! So what should an excellent service connection strategy cover?

A checklist of your most important connections

Among the most important components in your organization connection plan is a list of all your essential contacts who must be informed of the catastrophe. This can include all your C-level execs, HR supervisors, IT Supervisor, client encountering supervisors, and so on.

An extensive checklist of your IT stock

Your organization continuity strategy must consist of a list of all the software programs, apps as well as equipment that you make use of in the day-to-day operations of your service. This listing ought to identify each of those as important or non-critical as well as point out information relating to each of them such as:

  • The name of the application/program.
  • Version/model number (for software/hardware).
  • Vendor name as well as connection details for each of them.
  • Warranty/support schedule details.
  • Contact information for client support for these applications.
  • Frequency of use.

Relevant Backup Data

Data backups are crucial to your disaster rehabilitation and so your service connection planning ought to feature information regarding data backups. It should state exactly how usually information is supported, in what styles as well as where. It should likewise mention what document back-ups are readily available– preferably, you need to be protecting ALL data as soon as possible! Especially if your business is transitioning its operations to remote work, you need to be prepared for anything.

What’s your Alternate Plan?

See to it your service connection program notes a backup procedures strategy that will certainly enter play in the event of a catastrophe. Examples consist of substitute operations such as options to function remotely or even to allow employees to bring their very own gadgets to work (BYOD) pending the time regular company premises or devices are ready.

Layout and site

Your service connection plan must also consist of a layout of your workplaces with the exit as well as entrance points plainly marked up, so they could be utilized in case of any sort of emergency. It must likewise mention the site of data centers, phones, essential IT devices and similar hardware.

Process classification

See to it your company continuity strategy specifies the standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to be complied with in the event of an unexpected emergency.

It’s Time to Start Planning!

Are you thinking business continuity planning is convoluted? Do not quit! A bunch of little & average sized companies don’t produce a company connection strategy thinking it is way too much of a problem. But this can easily show to be disastrous to your company eventually. A skilled MSP can aid you comprehend company connection preparing and also even aid you create a service connection plan that is best suited for your business!

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How to Improve Your Business’ Cyber Defense

Today, countless entrepreneurs set up an anti-virus software for their cyber protection and stop there. Nevertheless, there are actually numerous means to breach a system without triggering anti-virus applications. And especially in today’s evolving remote work world, you’ll need more than just a simple firewall to stop your data from being breached.

Cyber-criminals are actually producing various malware quicker than antivirus solutions may identify all of them (around 100,000 updated infection forms are introduced every day), and expert hackers will frequently assess their developments versus all readily accessible systems prior to launching them onto the internet.

The Scary Truth

Regardless of whether you possessed an ideal anti-virus solution that might sense as well as prevent all risks, there are actually countless cyber threats that can get around anti-virus software completely. For instance, if a cyber-criminal is able to manipulate a staff member to click on an infected email or link, or perhaps “brute force estimate” a low-strength password, all the anti-virus applications on earth couldn’t save you.

There are actually a number of weaknesses a hacker may prey on: the physical level, the individual level, the network level, and also the device level. You need to have a security strategy that will definitely enable you to swiftly detect as well as address violations at each level.
The physical level pertains to the PC’s as well as other devices that you store in your workplace. This is actually the simplest level to secure, yet is actually frequently abused. For example, employees lose devices with sensitive information such as smartphones or USB’s, which fall into the wrong hands.

For the physical level, you should:

  1. Retain all PC’s and also equipment under the oversight of a worker or even stored away in all opportunities.
  2. Solely permit approved team members to utilize your equipment.
  3. Never connect in any kind of unidentified USB gadgets.
  4. Demolish outdated computer hardware prior to tossing it away.

The Biggest Threat to Your Business

The truth is, 95% of protection occurrences include human mistakes. Ashley Schwartau of The Security Awareness Company states the most significant blunders a firm can make are “presuming their workers recognize internal safety strategies” as well as “presuming their staff members care sufficiently to comply with plan”.

Right here are some means cyber-criminals make use of human shortcomings:

  1. Attempting to brute-force deciphering passwords.
  2. Fooling workers to open up suspicious e-mails or go to endangered sites.
  3. Deceiving workers to reveal delicate info.

For the human level, you should:

  1. Implement obligatory password modifications every 30 to 60 days, or after a worker is lost.
  2. Train your staff members on ideal techniques every 6 months.
  3. Supply rewards for safety mindful actions.
  4. Disperse delicate details on a requirement to understand basis.
  5. Need 2 or even more people to approve any kind of transfer of funds.

A Strong Network Makes Your Security Work

The network level describes software application strikes supplied online. This is without a doubt one of the most typical avenue for strikes, impacting 61% of services last year. There are all sorts of malware: some will certainly spy on you, some will certainly siphon off funds, and some will certainly lock away your data.

Nevertheless, they are all transferred similarly, either with spam e-mails or suspicious websites, or with “Drive by” downloads.

To defend your business versus malware:

  1. Do not utilize service gadgets on an unsafe network.
  2. Do not permit international tools to access your Wi-fi network.
  3. Utilize firewall programs to safeguard your network.
  4. Make certain your Wi-fi network is secured.
  5. Utilize antivirus applications as well as maintain updates. Although it is not the perfect security solution, it will certainly secure you from one of the most typical infections as well as aid you to observe abnormalities.
  6. Utilize applications that identify dubious program actions.

Don’t Leave Your Data to its Own Devices

The mobile level pertains to the digital tools your team utilizes on a day-to-day basis. Cyber security awareness for mobile devices usually trails other technology, which explains the reason there are 11.6 million compromised devices in any instance.

There are many traditional methods for compromising mobile devices:

  • Customary viruses & ransomware
  • Suspicious applications
  • Extortions to your business internet system

To protect your equipment you should:

  1. Utilize strong passcodes.
  2. Utilize encryption.
  3. Utilize distinguished cyber defense software.
  4. Allow remote data clearing possibilities.

What You Can Do

Just as every source of protection would certainly have been pointless without an HQ to relocate security strength to where it’s required most, Cyber IT defense-in-depth strategy requires to have an individual who can check each level for dubious data movement and also react as necessary. With a managed IT services provider, those concerns are gone as you have a whole team of IT engineers you can count on 24/7 for your cyber defense while you can focus on running your business.

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