As a business grows, so do the gravity of the problems it will face. Most of the time, these problems must be managed by teams with the proper expertise. However, we all know how expensive hiring, training and retaining employees can be. So, when businesses don’t have internal IT, managed IT service providers (MSPs) are the way to go!
Whether you need help practicing proper cybersecurity training or troubleshooting issues on your network, outsourcing your IT tasks will do wonders for your business—without costing you a great deal of money.
MSP’s and Contract Lengths
Of course, as with all outsourced services, MSPs have different term lengths. Typically, the most common contract terms are for 1, 3, or 5 years. One-year contracts have the least commitment of all of these. However, all three options can utilize a fixed rate model where, rather than charging a client per issue/ticket/hour they pay a set monthly fee so they can predictably budget their technology operations.
On the other hand, three- and five-year contracts need a lot of commitment from both parties. Three-year contracts usually allow you to finance projects with their fixed monthly rate, but some businesses might find that commitment too long.
If you’re looking for a higher return on investment, you should consider the five-year contract. That’s why it’s best to learn the important aspects about MSP’s that best suit your business’ situation.
The truth is that none of the contract terms are superior to the others. What’s important is to avail of the services that will make the most sense for your company’s needs.
Pros of Short-Term Managed IT Services
Some small or medium-sized businesses might not know if managed IT services are right for them. This is where short-term managed IT services come in. The shortest contract period you’ll find for an MSP’s services is for a year. They will require some commitment from you, but it’s not as binding as long-term contracts.
If a year still sounds like a lot, know that some MSPs give an introductory, or onboarding, period where you can cancel the managed IT services agreement without paying the remainder of the term. Depending on your service provider, this could range from 30, 60, or 90 days. Beyond that period, you’ll then be signing a contract and obligated to make payments for a predetermined period. Before you make a decision, it’s always important to ask the MSP questions to get a feel for what would fit your specific business’ situation.
That said, some of the advantages of a short-term contract are:
- Enjoy a temporary commitment with your provider
- Fill the gaps in your network for the time being
- Let you test the waters first before committing to a multi-year contract
- Allow you to have someone to rely on while you plan and recruit for an in-house IT department
Pros of Long-Term Managed IT Services
A three-year contract can be the “just right” choice for your company if a one-year contract feels too brief and a five-year deal feels too long. Here are some of the services that can help your businesses more over the long-term:
- Dedicated account support: Your MSP engineer becomes familiar with the details of your network and can immediately spot issues.
- Stronger collaborations: You have a long time to build a relationship and get to know your MSP’s request processing procedures.
- Enhanced security: Your MSP’s ability to recognize users and behavior on your network allows them to spot anomalies more quickly.
A five-year contract might be an option if you want to commit to Managed IT Services for a long time and don’t want to swap service providers.
However, if you choose this route, it’s wise to ask your MSP how they can assist you with refresh cycles and system updates. Remember, five years is a long time in terms of technology, and data backups are only as good as the last time they are tested!
Advantages of Long-Term Contracts
Whether you’re going for a three- or five-year MSP contract, here are some of the business advantages you’ll enjoy:
- Greater ROI: With a longer contract, you will surely get the most value from your provider. That’s because your contracted MSP’s knowledge base about your company, operations, teams, and infrastructure expands, so too does the potential for innovation, the speed of adopting new technologies, and the strategies designed to keep your company on the cutting edge.
- Stronger Security: A cybersecurity provider familiar with your systems will create much stronger security measures that are specialized to close vulnerabilities, monitor risk zones, and offer more thorough coverage. A benefit in and of itself is having superior cybersecurity, which uses cutting-edge technology to safeguard your company’s assets, clients, and employees.
- Compliance as a Service: Adhering to data security standards requires ongoing effort. It’s a dynamic collection of criteria that needs constant maintenance, support, and adaptability. You can receive that ongoing assistance with a long-term MSP contract to ensure you always maintain compliance.
- Better Project Management: A long-term MSP can help you improve your project planning drastically by assisting you in navigating network-related projects such as office expansion and moves, remote transitions, and hardware and software upgrades.
Determining the Best Term for Your Business
At the end of the day, it is up to you to select the length of service that feels right for you and your business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Will managed IT services be a short-term or a long-term IT solution for my business?
- Is my business growing? If so, how soon do I expect to outgrow my MSP or current IT department?
- Am I open to committing for a longer duration in exchange for a higher return on investment?
Choosing between a short or long-term contract is the first step in finding the right MSP for your business. Once you’ve figured it out, make sure to thoroughly assess an MSP first before partnering with them.