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Benefits of Using a Managed Service Provider (Podcast)

Dave Hodgdon talks with John Maher about the benefits of outsourcing your business’s IT needs to a managed service provider (MSP), and they look at the advantages of working with MSPs for companies with internal IT teams as well as for companies with no internal IT employees.

Portsmouth Computer Group · Why to Use a Managed Service Provider

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Dave Hodgdon, CEO of PCG, a Managed Service and IT Provider with headquarters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and locations in Dover, Manchester, and Portland, Maine. Today we’re talking about why to use a Managed Service Provider. Welcome, Dave.

Dave Hodgdon: Good morning, John. How are you doing today?

John: Good, thanks.

Benefits of Outsourcing IT to a Managed Service Provider

John: Maher: So, Dave, what are some of the top benefits of outsourcing your IT with a Managed Service Provider, sometimes called an MSP?

Enhanced IT Knowledge

Dave: The biggest consideration, John, is the breadth of knowledge that we’re able to bring to the client. Most people are used to having one or two people in their IT department, but we have 13 engineers with various skills, with various knowledge, and when you pull that together, you have more success. And I always think of it as a football team, you have your offense, you have your defense, you have your special teams. There’s a lot of coaching. We’re able to bring that whole team to give you value.

Specialized Knowledge of Vendor Products

Dave: Also the vendor knowledge of products out there, HP, Rocky, Cisco, there’s so many products out there, and having the ability to work on that specialization is key. Having a large inventory of products we’re able to help our clients with, having the 24 by Seven Tech Support, leveraging our relationships with our vendors, helping out with your Comcast, your first light circuit. So it’s always a tough choice out there of having an internal IT team versus an MSP. But there’s a lot of value you can get from a Managed Service Provider.

How MSPs Support Internal IT Teams

John: So you have potentially a company that has an IT person in house, or perhaps even an IT division or group of people that are working in that at your company, depending on its size. And then you can hire out, for you guys, an MSP to do a lot of different work, what are maybe the advantages or disadvantages of having your IT in-house and hiring an MSP to do additional work versus just having an outside company like yourself, handle all of my IT.

Dave: Great question, John. I think it probably should come back to the management team in defining what you as an organization really want. So first of all, from our standpoint of what are businesses doing, what are we looking for, growth or acquisitions? How’s our current processes working right now? Do we currently have an MSP or internal IT person and create what we’re really looking for? What’s working, what’s not? And then set a roadmap and see what’s best for you. There’s definitely locations where having an internal IT is the right fit. It depends how big the IT department is.

But for most small businesses to have that additional fee that you have to carry can be very expensive. So I would think you’d start with the plan right there. From there you start determining what are we actually trying to accomplish? Is it for a project? Is it a one-time only project, am I actually looking for that Managed Service Provider to take over the whole IT, which is our preference, of course, but that is where the biggest value is. And there’s many components there we can help with.

Cost of MSPs Vs. In-House IT Teams

John: So what are some of the cost differences between an outsourced MSP versus hiring a dedicated employee in-house?

Dave: Compared to an average IT expense, we’re usually about one third to one half that expense. So depending on where your market is, John, and what you have for an IT, there’s a big difference between someone at an IT department that’s just helped us like a level one, versus a true engineer that can do all components for a small network.

The problem there is that one person is limited, they’re focused on just their tunnel vision, just in what they know. What happens if that person gets hit by a bus? What happens if that person leaves? You as an organization, you’ll put all your marbles into one bucket and then there’s a huge risk at that point. But on average and the numbers in industry show that an average IT person, if you were to hire us internally at your company costs about $80,000 and to use us as an outsourced option would be about $30,000 to $40,000 with a huge benefit on top of that savings.

Do You Need an Internal IT Department?

John: Is there a certain size company where all of a sudden it makes more sense to at least have one employee dedicated to IT or does it really vary by company?

Dave: It does vary, but it’s an excellent question, John. I feel it really depends on what’s going on in that industry. A lot of places might have an IT requirement. There might be a lot of machinery in place or a medical office or a manufacturer. You got a specific application. You might have some machinery out on the floor that requires some IT experience, but not doing all of it.

Usually when you get to 50 to 100 seats is when I feel you should definitely be having an IT person in house for a lot of that, depending on what you’re doing for your business. We do have many organizations that have IT in place at 25, 50 or a 100 seats. They do wear multiple hats. So it’s just not specific to doing everything. They have a skill set that they might be very good at supporting a line of business application, but they don’t have the wherewithal to help with the security. They don’t want to be on call for 24/7 help desk calls.

Outsourcing Your Help Desk to an MSP

John: So what are some of the services that an MSP offers for companies that have an internal IT person?

Dave: A lot of times they are busy. They don’t want to do with the nuances of the daily help desk. When we asked most IT people, “What are the one or two things that you’d like to get off your plate?” It’s usually the help desk. That’s a very simple thing for us to outsource and we can help them either providing help from 8 to 5 or 24/7, and the key to any successful help desk John is documentation.

The internal IT guy needs to help us document. So if we’re not actually there and we’re expecting to support all their users, it’s vital that we’re both on the same page. These are the applications, these are the issues, here are the credentials to fix my 365. Here’s my line of business applications. They have issues with printers. So the more we know and we can document, they’ll be great success there.

John: And by help desk, you mean just the average little problems that people have on a day-to-day basis. Like, “My email’s not working.” Or you mentioned my printer, I can’t print things to the printer all of a sudden. Or that day-to-day thing that crops up all the time.

Dave: Bingo, right on the button right there, I can’t log in and password reset. I can’t print, my browser’s not working properly. Most of your help desk is L one or L two. The day-to-day stuff that you use for the help desk is not there for the server being down. And that’s what the internal IT guy would do. So I’d say help desk is very big. A lot of them don’t have the time or energy to actually monitor all their equipment 24/7. They have a job, they need some sleep and a regular life. They need to go on vacation. So it’s nice to know they would like to outsource and we could do all the monitoring and remediation of all their key equipment. And that would be not only their servers could be up in the cloud, could be their infrastructure, which is their switches and firewall.

Wiring Services and Wireless Assessments

Dave: And it’s nice to know they have someone else assisting them. A lot of times we find that there’s projects that they don’t have the time or the expertise to do. We have many projects we do for people with IT. We do wiring, they’re not wiring technician for voice and data, they’ll hire for that, they’re not an expert of wireless. We have the ability to do a true wireless assessment and bring a wireless solution tool. We have the ability to add a security to their current environment.

Help With Cybersecurity

Dave: And the big buzz word is cybersecurity has a lot of risk out there. This has changed dramatically, John, over the last three to five years and it’s rampant right now, since COVID. There’s just too many things for one person to expect to evaluate all the services needed to keep my business secure. So we have the ability to bring various security plans to them that they can use to help improve their security posture.

John: And that’s especially true like you said, with COVID and everybody working from home now, you’ve got not just one network that you have to handle and try to troubleshoot, but you have maybe 50 different networks of people at home to have to deal with. So that adds a whole other level to it.

Dave: Last March, April, when everyone converted, it is a lot easier to support a network under one roof, John, you hit it right there. Now it’s 30 networks we’re dealing with everyone’s home environment, which it was a free for all to get started, but people are starting to get smarter. They’re starting to put a policy in place, a remote workforce policy in place, which we’ve helped them adopt. The equipment has to be company owned. You have to be on a private wireless. You can’t let your kids use the machines, put various policies in place that they can extract data, put policy in place when they’re actually working. So there’s a lot of things that have changed there.

Assistance With Special IT Projects: Azure, PC Deployment, Site-to-Site Security, and Firewalls

John:  What are some of the other places where an MSP can help me?

Dave: If I have IT in house, or just in general?

John:  If I have IT in house in particular.

Dave: I would think that the security standpoint and especially projects like an Azure Cloud project is another area that they don’t have that expertise… Azure is very complicated. So they’re used to having the hardware on premise buying my server, my hard drive, if they haven’t studied it, haven’t played with it. And they’re busy 24/7, just supporting the network. It’s difficult to do. So I would say doing an Azure project is big. I would say doing any form of security firewall site-to-site is very big where we help out. Another big one that would be doing for some companies is a PC deployment. They need to change a lot of machines, and that takes a lot of time and having one person can take a long time. So they might want to outsource us to help do some PC deployments.

How MSPs Can Replace Internal IT Teams

John: Okay. And then on the other side, if I don’t have an IT person in house, and I want you guys to handle everything, what are some of the additional things that an MSP could offer to me that would replace an internal IT person?

Dave: We pretty much break that down to three plans. A lot of organizations want it all, John, and we call that our premium agreement.

Multiple Service-Level Options

Dave: Some people might have a little IT, or they don’t want it all, and we call that the centrals…  it’s the core. We want to be responsible, and they’re holding us accountable to support their network. And that would be anywhere from they’re going to have a dedicated network administrator to be the person they’re used to being on site. They are going to have our help desk where they want services 8 to 5 or 24/7. We do give options for both. There is a cost difference to have 24/7 support. We’ve seen that go up dramatically. John, since the COVID hit more and more people aren’t working regular business hours.

Help Desk Support With Documentation

Dave: So having that support is a huge benefit to the customer. Again, documentation is key with support, and you need to have all your ducks in a row so you can field the IT support calls and document it centrally.

Project Management

Dave: We also have the ability to manage all their projects, whether it’s going to be a new wireless, we’re going to move into 365, we’re going to go to Azure, etc.

Business Continuity

Dave: Business continuity is one issue that’s dear to my heart, and if you don’t have a good backup, I can’t sleep at night. So we want to make sure that they understand what their backup is. And if something goes wrong, what their time to recover the security standpoint, which we spoke about before from a cybersecurity standpoint of making sure from a compliance standpoint, that we’ve met what they need to be secure, doing their regular desktops, their PC setups, advisory to their vendors, dealing with the Comcast, and the first light, helping them get the best bang for the buck.

Help Choosing Software and Applications

Dave: We had a client last year, they were going to buy from their software vendor. John, I got engaged and I ended up saving them $130,000 over four years. They don’t know all the questions to ask. So it’s, so it’s important to know that they can rely on us. They get a 24/7 support. If they want it, they get a dedicated live voice. They also got a team here that cares about them and it works out very well.

Contact an MSP to Enhance Value

John: All right. Any final thoughts on why a company should hire an MSP?

Dave: Our bottom line, John, is it’s the value. The customer needs to see the value. We don’t want any of our clients to spend one dollar without understanding why and the benefit to their company.

John:  All right. Well, that’s really great information, Dave. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dave: My pleasure.

John: And for more information, visit the PCG website pcgit.com or call (603) 431-4121.