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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 us 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!

a man using the cloud on his tablet

How To Help Your IT Department with Managed IT Services

If you’re looking to grow your business, you should consider managed IT services in Miami. Managed IT Service Providers help improve business’s operations by reducing costs and providing superior technology solutions. Here are a few ways an MSP can help you achieve your business goals.

You can take a look at 10 examples of cloud computing on our blog.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions Increase in Popularity

It’s no secret that Nerds Support’s Miami cloud solutions is increasing demand day-by-day. A lot of companies are turning to the hybrid cloud. Organizations need to learn about hybrid cloud to grow. But hiring an MSP can help them.

Experts expect  the hybrid cloud market to grow from $44.6 billion in 2018 to $97.6 billion by 2023.

The hybrid cloud market was valued by Markets and Markets at $45.70 billion in 2019. Furthermore, hybrid cloud is expected to reach $128.01 billion by 2025.

These numbers indicate that Hybrid cloud systems are growing in popularity and use. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that 94 percent of enterprises use cloud systems. This is according to Right Scale annual state of the cloud report.

More and More Businesses Embrace Multiple Cloud Applications

In addition to using the hybrid cloud, companies are using more cloud applications like Citrix & Vmware. So, it becomes important for organizations to integrate all of these different solutions. An MSP can provide integrated solutions so that companies have a smooth workflow.

Sticking to one type of cloud solution might resolve some issue but create others. Both public and private cloud solutions have benefits and drawbacks.

Pros of Public Cloud

  • Based on a pay-as-you-go model. Lower upfront costs.
  • Large enough to meet the needs of a majority of organizations
  • Massive network of servers which protects the system from failure.
  • Servers are physically housed in a secure, offsite data center
  • Large public Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Comcast Business Cloud have enterprise level infrastructure and top grade security.
  • Scalable on-demand resources and applications

Cons of Public Cloud

  • Options are limited if a company requires more customized solutions.
  • The public nature of cloud puts your data at risk. A hacker targeting the public cloud vendor could expose your data even if the hacker was not targeting you specifically.
  • Public cloud may be a one-size-fits-most, and has limited flexibility in configuration and security.
  • Public cloud is not ideal for companies who use sensitive data or is subject to compliance regulations.
  • Data centers might be located overseas where specific regulations don’t apply or compliance standards differ.

The Pros of Private Cloud

  • Hosting and infrastructure are not shared by customers, providing a higher level of control, security and customization.
  • Server can be stored onsite or offsite
  • Capable of delivering different service models
  • Strong security features make it ideal for companies who operate using private data.
  • Can adhere to strict compliance standards
  • Has more flexibility and controls
  • Cost could decrease over time
  • Lower security risk. Private clouds are not as targeted as larger public cloud vendors.
  • Higher scalability than public cloud.

Cons of Private Cloud:

  • Remote access of a private cloud could create security risks
  • More expensive up-front costs than public.
  • Private clouds might require hardware that you will have to own and maintain.
  • Security, in many cases, is up to the user

The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud harnesses the capabilities of both public and private clouds. Hybrid clouds offer more customized options than public cloud by giving companies the option to choose decide where to place your IT applications.

Pros of Hybrid Cloud:

  • Flexibility and scalability depending on individual application needs within the company.  For example: interacting with clients on the public cloud, but keeping their data secure on a private network.
  • Scalability and flexibility is determined by the needs of the company
  • Higher level of security than a public cloud alone
  • Can choose what aspects of IT will be private and which will be public.
  •  Integrates benefits of both private and public cloud solutions

Cons of Hybrid Cloud:

  • Keeping track of multiple different platforms and vendors
  • If you’re using multiple platforms and vendors it it could get overwhelming to track.
  • Using both public and private clouds may require more complex IT management that could equate to higher overall costs
  • Using a combination of public and private clouds could require advanced IT support and management that will raise costs

Fortunately, many of the drawbacks associated with hybrid clouds are resolved through managed it services. A managed IT services company like Nerds Support offers co-managed IT. That means we provide the business with supplementary IT department capable of handling the transition. Not only that, but we also provide the hardware necessary for a successful cloud migration.

Moving Enterprise Applications to the Public Cloud or Private Cloud

Cloud migration, for those of you who don’t know, is the act of moving business operations into the cloud. It is more a digital move than a physical one but it is at least partly physical. Cloud migration involves moving applications, data, IT processes, and data to the data center or centers.

Enterprise applications are located in the private cloud to maintain the security of an organization. But more and more organizations come to know that cloud is actually the more secure solution. So, companies are moving enterprise applications to the cloud. An MSP, like Nerds Support can help you move your enterprise applications to the public cloud safely.

Optimizing IT Cloud Strategies

As more and more companies are using the cloud, it becomes important to optimize and refine services and reduce expenses. As companies know the benefits of cloud solutions, they are looking to improve on the costs related to cloud. MSPs can assess the status of an organization’s cloud infrastructure. They can provide an all-in-one solution at an affordable cost.

Well, MSP service is not just about growing your business. It’s about achieving meaning growth. Let’s build a stronger foundation for the future with reliable managed services.

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Cloud computing grants businesses the flexibility, scalability, and security to be successful with remote work.

Why Cloud Flexibility & Remote Work are the Future

The Flexibility of The Cloud & Remote Work

How does cloud flexibility allow for a remote work environment? When you migrate to the cloud, your data is hosted in an off-site data center instead of on premise.

You can then work from any location as long as you have a device connected to the internet. By eliminating the restrictions of an on-site server, you can increase your mobility exponentially.

You can work from anywhere as long as you have the right credentials, a secure device and an internet connection.

Remote Work Promotes Business Continuity

Business doesn’t stop for anyone. Having the option to work off-site has many benefits. When you consider how chaotic things can be you start to appreciate the flexibility of the cloud.

Many businesses struggle and even fail after a natural disaster or an unforeseen event. The Pandemic of 2020 showed us that the world can come to a crashing halt at any given moment. Investing in your firm’s future is not about ignoring an uncomfortable reality, but adapting to it.

We learned in a matter of a few short months how quickly the standard model can fail when tried. And a pandemic isn’t the only natural disaster that brings these conflicts. If you live in the east coast, hurricanes, tropical storms and other weather events can limit access to your business. Storms cause outages and often floods. What happens to your business then?

For small businesses, the recovery from hurricanes and other natural disasters might take years — if they even recover at all.  After Katrina, Louisiana businesses suffered a lot of damage.

Those with data backup & remote capabilities can function in these types of circumstances since they are not limited by a physical office space.

Small Businesses Struggle After A Disaster

Many small businesses are not as lucky as the larger franchises, however. According to a government study, 40 percent of small businesses never reopen following a weather-related disaster. The reason for that is unfortunate but simple: a halt in productivity is a halt in revenue. Businesses that shut down during these disasters are still growing, don’t have adequate cash reserved to repair damage and pay bills once they stop operating.

Even without any physical destruction to property, businesses that shut down can lose money and fail to pay for their monthly overhead. We’ve seen this happen to shopping malls and retail stores. A retail store owner will pay a mall for space but when they shut down, there’s no money coming in. As a result, the store closes down.

How about if an employee gets sick or has to suddenly leave town? How about businesses that are impacted by earthquakes or reconstruction?

Companies whose workers can work remotely have a better chance at survival than those who rely on in house servers and technology.

What’s worse, none of these events are within the control of a business owner. Not having remote capabilities is like living in a house without insurance or an alarm system. You’re at the mercy of the elements.

Remote option Increases Productivity Even in Unforeseen Situations

Another example is when an employee gets sick, or has to care for a sick child, and can’t get to the office. Without the flexibility of the cloud and remote work, the will inevitably fall behind.
If they are able to work from home, however, business can continue without major interruption.

Working from Home Business Can Continue with The Cloud

The benefits of cloud computing and remote work are for more than managing disasters and illness. When workers have access to their files and data, they can make last minute changes to a project or document. They can collaborate and improve the quality of the work outside the office as well.

Conversely, an employee might want to make progress with the work they are doing to prepare for a busy week coming up. That way they can clear up their schedule and move on to other projects and tasks. Employees can access their important files through the cloud at a moment’s notice.

When given remote access, employees experience a boost in productivity. Having a quieter environment away from the distractions of the office makes a big difference.
Offices can be very distracting environments. Away from office banter and side-conversations in the break-room, employees are more focused on the tasks at hand. They also take shorter breaks and work to the end of the day.

Increase Productivity With The Cloud

Remote work opens up new opportunities for employees and business owners alike. There are Gallup polls showing a 37 percent increase in productivity when moving to a remote environment.
The only thing is, you have to make sure you have the right technology in place to succeed. Ensuring you have the data and cyber protections in order to keep your business information safe. Migrating to the cloud and adopting remote work methods is useless if it makes your business more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Remote Work Is Green Work

As we alluded to, employees and employers work longer partly because they don’t have a long commute. But if you think about it, that also means no commute at all. Remote work decreasesw traffic congestion, greenhouse gasses and air pollution by working from home.

In fact, remote workers take 600,000 cars off the road each year. On a cloud-based platform, greenhouse emissions will plummet to an all time low. That doesn’t mean people won’t go out to their favorite restaurant or shopping center. It simply means vehicles will be used more sparingly.

Not to mention the added bonus in savings on gas and repairs from the natural wear-and-tare that comes with car use.

Do Your Research

Look for a Managed IT services partner that fits your specific business goals. Nerds Support, for example, focuses on financial services and logistics firms. Therefore, we focus on compliance, auditing processes and cyber security for financial firms.

Other cloud providers are made for marketing and creative projects. There are plenty of Managed IT services providers that offer IT consulting for hospitals or local businesses. Here are 10 examples of cloud computing if you want to learn more.

Cloud Flexibility Allows you To Adapt And Overcome

When companies are faced with any disaster or problem they have to rise to the occasion and pivot their business to adjust. Spotify, the massive music streaming service, is a good example. When the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 came, advertisers had to make budget cuts.

Knowing this would threaten Spotify’s business model, they chose to focus more on streaming podcasts rather than just music. Spotify recognized a massive uptick in the number of individuals streaming podcasts and decided to adapt by capitalizing on the unique opportunity.

In much the same way, companies must embrace remote work or be replaced by those willing to make the change.

 

How Accounting CPA's will continue post the pandemic

Accounting in a Post Pandemic Era

Last year’s pandemic has impacted nearly every business in the country. Now, accountants might find themselves wondering how to create a secure work environment for themselves and their clients.

The needs of your clients are changing and so is the industry. Furthermore, new regulations created as a consequence of COVID-19 are affecting business practices.

With that in mind, here are a few changes that CPA’s will experience in the coming years.

Employees

All businesses including CPA firms are looking to get employees back to work.  These are some guidelines that might help your firm organize itself as the country begins to open up again.

  1.  EEOC sub regulatory guidance is a mouthful, but it is also important when considering how to navigate your firm’s re-opening process. According to EEOC guidance, employers are permitted to test for the presence of the COVID-19 virus before allowing employees to enter the place of work.
  2.  Employers must ensure the right infection controls regarding testing and be cautious of false positives and false negatives. Keep in mind that even the most accurate test only detects the virus if it’s currently present in the body. It does not guarantee the employee will not get the virus later.
  3.  Temperature checks are permissible under EEOC guidelines. However, who should administer the checks and how to administer them are not clear.
  4.  Employees testing positive for COVID-19 should be isolated from others and the workplace. Employers are encouraged to follow CDC and OSHA guidelines, which include closing off areas used by the sick employee, cleaning and disinfecting the environment, and informing other employees of any possible exposure to the virus in the office.
  5. Results from a COVID-19 test or temperature check fall under ADA confidentiality provisions. These tests are considered confidential information that should be kept in a secure location away from other employee information.

Industry

We covered employees, but what about changes in the industry itself? The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated certain trends and shifted others. Let’s review what some of those are.

A Shift in Duties For CPA’s

Small-business clients need help accessing relief programs in the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program specifically. This means firms need to quickly transition from consulting to advisors as they help businesses get through the lockdown.  Financing reviews, a lot of cash flow forecasting and evaluating relief packages will be more important through tax season and the next few months.

Working Remotely

Experts agree that remote work for CPA’s is going to become the new normal. With companies like Twitter, Facebook and more making remote work permanent.

Although remote work was projected by  to increase gradually, the lockdown sped up the process. Firms were forced to quickly adopt remote enabling technologies like Video conferencing apps and the cloud.

Cloud Accounting

Speaking of the cloud, the move to remote operations has been difficult for firms who complain that apps like Zoom are not working well with their Citrix environment. That’s mainly because these firms have only partially moved over to the cloud.

Cloud accounting is an inevitability now that we know a pandemic can force us to work beyond the office at any moment.

A firm that was not prepared likely did not have the time to migrate to the cloud all of their applications and infrastructure over. So as things begin to pick up speed they’ll do so.

Moving to the cloud is not as easy as choosing to do so. There are steps to cloud migration. Moreover, the quality of the cloud service depends on the quality of the provider. Firms must familiarize themselves with the different types of cloud services: public, private and hybrid clouds.

By choosing a large public cloud like Amazon Web Services, you could be sacrificing personalized care. Choose a cloud that lacks the proper regulatory standards and it might hurt your firm more than it helps.

The chief concern for all CPA’s should be to assist clients, help save businesses and keep jobs.  CPA’s are the financial experts both individuals and main street businesses need right now. Having the right tools in place is going to be essential.

Accountants may have the technology to work remotely but not all of them have everything they require to work efficiently. Although being in the office doesn’t compare with being at home, adjusting is a matter of making the right choices.

Clients

Additionally, accountants can’t meet face-to-face with clients so they’ll resort to remote advising as a way to adjust. However, just like remote work, remote advising is going to outlast the lockdown it seems.

Accountants and clients will adjust to working from the comfort of their homes without having to bare long commutes or wait in an office.

Remote advising will redefine what it means to be an accountant like tax application services are doing now. Firms will realize that remote advising is not just a way of working through a pandemic but perhaps a more efficient way of doing business for both them and their clients.

Firms

Although the long-term consequences of the lockdown are still unknown, accountants need to see themselves as advisors businesses need to survive. Firms of all sizes are going to called on by their clients to help them though the economic downturns created by the lockdown.

CPA’s, unlike other professions, are facing an opportunity for growth. Accounting firms should position themselves as the first responders during a financial crisis. Employers, businesses and average citizens are looking for help. They want to apply for loan programs, government assistance, and financial relief programs. All of these examples require knowledgeable of tax, accounting and payroll.

Cloud made of paperclips with computers, tablets, and phones surrounding it

Using the Cloud to Improve your Workforce

The New Standard of Managing a Remote Workforce

Team is what makes a business successful

The ability to collaborate in the cloud is becoming a key driver of competitive advantage - Forbes Media

Products may come and go. Services are another buzzword. Brands have a lifespan. Culture and leadership are the most important things a company  has. But technology can also serve as a tool to help guide that culture and leadership. So as your business grows and gets more complex– especially with work from home workers , you need an IT infrastructure to help.  

One thing is clear: “Out with the Old, and In with the New!”

→Email threads become a labyrinth.
→Document versions get lost in sync.
→Work from Home employees require flexibility.

Using the cloud means always being able to access your most important assets, whether they're Word docs, spreadsheets, or photos - PC Mag

Old-school IT systems – the kind you manage from your own servers – are no longer the norm and are not letting you progress!

These days, the advent of cloud computing and all the benefits that come with it have paved the way for collaborative cloud-based services that are reshaping how employees work together over the internet, whether it's a trio of founders at a startup or a mid-sized company with 500 staff - TechRadar

A New Normal for a New Workforce

The cloud is here to help you grow your business.

This guide shows some of the ways cloud-based applications and services can help your business:

→Speed up decisions
→Getting files faster and to the right team member
 →Making the most of company resources
→Increasing your security
→Minimizing your IT costs and overhead

Now it’s time to use them to modernize the way you work, and turbo-charge your team. And we’re here to help you every step of the way!

The best part of using an outsourced service is that upgrades and feature add-ons are automatic. Your company benefits from the latest and greatest and it's installed for you without any worry or work

We’re your local Miami-based IT Services provider! We specialize in helping companies simplify their IT systems, support work from home and improve collaboration by moving to the cloud – in easy, steps. We can help you transition to a simpler, more productive world while supporting you and your users with the best customer service.

Contact Nerds Support the premier IT Solutions Provider for a FREE IT Test!