Q&A with Xcel Office Solutions – What is a Managed IT Service Provider?

Jason Robison:

Hey, what’s going on? I’m Jason, and welcome to our Q&A series, where we answer some of the most common questions that we hear about office technology. And so today I’ve asked Jaime Hall to kind of help us out.

Jason Robison:

Hey, Jaime, before we get into this question though, tell us a little bit about what you do here at Xcel and how long you’ve been here.

Jaime Hall:

Okay. So I am the director of marketing here at Xcel and my entire responsibility basically is to just share our story and our brand with the world. So that’s what I do on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been here about seven years now.

Jason Robison:

Oh, awesome. So a big question that we hear all the time is what is a managed service provider or an MSP. And it’s an acronym that we use or a term that we use all the time in our business because that’s what we are, but a lot of people don’t know what it is. Can you explain a little bit what an MSP is and who it’s for?

Jaime Hall:

Absolutely. So you might hear a managed service provider, like Jason said, is really kind of what we call it. And maybe you could think of it as like an IT support company. So basically it’s an organization made up of IT professionals whose sole responsibility is to support the IT functions within a third-party business.

Jason Robison:

Okay, perfect. So what is the biggest takeaway, like the top level, “Hey, this is why an MSP makes sense.” What would that line be?

Jaime Hall:

Okay. So for a small business owner who doesn’t have an IT department, that’s really who these services are typically the most suited for, although, we do offer services to augment an existing IT staff. But really, for those folks, if you were to go out and hire an IT professional in Oklahoma, you might start out paying that person $50,000, $60,000 a year.

Jason Robison:

And that’s just if they’re like entry-level.

Jaime Hall:

Very entry-level.

Jason Robison:

Yeah.

Jaime Hall:

That’s help desk type. When you start getting into systems analysts and network designers, you’re going to look in that $80,000, $90,000 sometimes $100,000, and even plus range. So the challenge is, is that a lot of business owners just don’t have that type of money to invest, but yet they still need the support. So having a managed service provider gives them a way to do that at an affordable monthly rate.

Jason Robison:

Sure. Now, what we see a lot though is these small businesses, they can’t afford that IT professional, but there’s always somebody in the office that is techie or tech savvy, and they’re the person that works on the computers and all that. Why don’t they just continue to use that person to do their IT stuff versus hiring an MSP?

Jaime Hall:

Okay. So great question. A lot of people do that, and you can probably get by, but you’re going to sacrifice a few things in the process. So we call that type of situation an accidental IT. So just like you said, there’s one person in the office who is a little more savvy than everybody else when it comes to technology, so that person ends up kind of… All the responsibilities and the issues are brought to them.

Jaime Hall:

Here’s the challenge with that. For starters, that person has a separate function in the organization. So when they have to deal with IT issues, they’re pulled away from their core responsibilities. The second challenge is, is although that person is tech-savvy, they’re typically not as skilled as a certified IT professional. So while they can handle little problems, the more complex that issue gets, they just can’t do it. And finally, a lot of MSPs, we do a lot of the things in the background for our clients, preventative maintenance. And if you’ve got an accidental IT person who’s focused on other things in your company, they’re probably not doing those things for your organization. So you’re kind of sacrificing and putting yourself at risk when you rely on somebody who is what we call, again, an accidental IT person.

Jason Robison:

Yeah. And that person ends up having to do multiple jobs and ends up not being great at either one, right?

Jaime Hall:

Yeah. Absolutely. Totally.

Jason Robison:

Yeah. So we’re talking about also an IT professional can be anywhere from entry-level, 50K, all the way up to 100K plus. So what is a benefit of hiring an MSP from a financial standpoint?

Jaime Hall:

Okay. So you nailed it. First of all, it’s just less expensive. Our packages sometimes start out at just a few hundred dollars a month and you’re not sacrificing the support. So that’s a major benefit. The second thing is, is that the costs are predictable. So you’ll hear the term break-fix, and for those of you who don’t know what that means, that basically means is that if something breaks or there’s an issue that arises, then you call someone. The challenge with that is, is when you do that, you’re typically paying somebody by the hour. Well, if you’ve ever been hit by a cyberattack or you’ve had a device failure like the server goes down, that can add up really quickly. So-

Jason Robison:

Hours and hours.

Jaime Hall:

Hours.

Jason Robison:

And hundreds of dollars an hour.

Jaime Hall:

Hundreds of dollars in hours, hours, sometimes even days. And before you know it, you’ve maximized your annual IT budget with just one issue. So the benefit of partnering with an MSP is that those rates are fixed and you pay monthly. So anything that happens like that, all these unforeseen issues, which inevitably do happen, there are no surprises with the fee. So it makes budgeting easy.

Jason Robison:

Yeah. Perfect. Now, the people that are going to hire an MSP, the businesses that are doing that are usually small to mid-size businesses, right? That are trying to scale and become bigger businesses, be more successful and all that. So how does an MSP help a business go from a small business to a larger business?

Jaime Hall:

Okay. So a managed service provider, one of their bigger objectives is to just make sure that the technical strategy is really supporting the company’s overall goals and objectives. So we see a lot of this. We see companies that grow, but they don’t update their technology. They don’t invest in the right types of hardware and software. And so in the end, that can really have a negative impact on their growth.

Jaime Hall:

So what we will do is we meet with owners and CEOs and things like that to basically kind of determine what we need to do to support them. If we’re doing our job correctly, then some of the things that we might help with are just overcoming challenges, streamlining their operations, helping them become more efficient at how they deliver their products and services to their customers. So an MSP, a truly gifted MSP should be able to do that and provide that service.

Jason Robison:

Yeah, and even just a simple thing like providing more computers for new employees.

Jaime Hall:

Absolutely.

Jason Robison:

As the employees grow, they need technology. We can help them out with that. So, really, at the end of the day, small to mid-sized businesses can really benefit in a great, huge way from partnering with an MSP that really has their best interest at heart.

Jaime Hall:

Absolutely. Absolutely. In a nutshell, I mean, really what we’re here for is just to provide kind of that enterprise-level IT support for businesses who just can’t afford or don’t want to invest in their own IT personnel.

Jason Robison:

Yeah. That’s perfect. Well, that’s it, that’s what an MSP is, or managed service provider, and if you are a business owner of a small to mid-sized business and you have questions about your specific situation on how an MSP could benefit your business, reach out to us. Our phone number is 405-748-4222, or you can also reach us on the web at xceloffice.com.