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Managed IT services: do more with less

by James Jolley 
In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s not easy running a small business IT department without managed IT services.

In many cases, a sole IT manager probably is the department — a one-man band scrambling to take help desk calls, log service requests, monitor networks and firewalls, install patches and updates, back up servers, fix printers, and manage office email.

On top of all that, he or she is supposed to keep up with the latest technology trends and advise the business on how to improve productivity, save money, and meet its strategic goals — if time allows.

But, it rarely does. With resources stretched thin, it’s easy for a small business IT department to fall behind. However, managed IT services — i.e., the right technology combined with the right services — can be the recipe for success in building an agile business in today’s world.

Stop worrying about applications

Today’s intersection of technology and business processes is increasing the need for managed IT services. In fact, it’s now looked at by company leaders as not just an instrumental asset, but a strategic business asset.

Because of this, businesses are increasingly lowering their risk and improving efficiency by using managed IT services to handle some of the load. More than two-thirds of businesses surveyed by CompTIA1, a computer technology trade association, said they used external IT firm services within the past year.

Many providers offer services a la carte. Most companies get help with one or several applications, such as email hosting, CRM applications, storage, network monitoring, or backup and recovery. These providers augment in-house IT in a collaborative effort.

Chances are, your small business IT department (or person) will appreciate some support. It takes a load off their plate by having enterprise-grade service monitoring desktops, servers, and networks, not just during business hours, but 24/7.

Hosting is another big benefit. Managing an in-house email system is an enormous time sink, and employees probably complain that it’s clunky. Letting a cloud provider host it not only frees up IT, it gives your staff a better product.

Modern cloud services also take much of the legwork out of keeping applications up to date by pushing automatic patches. This can go a long way toward keeping your business safe and remove a time-consuming and tedious process for IT.

Let someone else handle all those devices

With mobility now an integral element of our day-to-day work, the task of managing employees’ mobile devices has become increasingly vital. Broad acceptance of the bring-your-own-device trend further complicates the challenge because it means that IT has to account for a menagerie of different devices, platforms, and consumer apps that can be a vector for security risks.
Setting up, managing, and deactivating email and network access on employees’ devices can feel like a full time job. Without the proper oversight, it also puts the onus for secure and compliant management of corporate data in the hands of individual employees. Bad passwords, lost devices, and reckless browsing can easily erode the security measures of your IT environment.

Fortunately, the right mobile device management (MDM) service can reduce your IT burden, securing and managing all devices across your network. MDM can provide complete visibility into your organization’s mobile resources and usage, helping to protect sensitive business and personal data, and making the provisioning and integration of devices quicker.

The small business playbook series

Learn more about simple, real-world ways to improve the security, productivity and mobility of your organization.
Perhaps the most thankless and tedious task of the IT worker is managing office printers. But that, too, can be outsourced. A managed services provider can monitor machines, diagnose problems, and send alerts. Your team can configure the machines remotely with security built into the system.

Outsourcing printer management also does something IT can’t do alone—it provides a continuous, accurate record of use.

Technology, combined with the right managed IT services, helps you deploy your resources more effectively. You may discover you don’t need all the printers you have, or learn that they’re underused because they’re poorly located. You may decide you’re spending too much on ink and paper, when you could be using the cloud to store information instead.

Your IT department can be a huge strategic asset if given the time to apply their expertise to the business. By limiting the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks and investing in managed IT services, your business as a whole can operate at a higher level.
James Jolley
James Jolley, Director of Ricoh Services, brings 18 years of industry knowledge to the role where he is focused on building strategic intelligence with technology infrastructures. Jolley is Cisco CCNA, CCNP, ACE and ITLL certified.
1 Customer Awareness and Adoption of Managed Services Trending Upward, New CompTIA Research Reveals (press release). CompTIA. June 1, 2015.