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November 15, 2017
You’ve probably been hearing the term “managed services” for years without knowing exactly what it means. For CPAs, a managed services provider is an outsourced technology company that provides installation and oversight of crucial IT functions. From managed email to security, managed services allow small firms to hire an affordable outsourcing partner to run their technology.
This post is a primer about managed service providers and how they can help the small CPA practice. What are the pros and cons of outsourcing to an IT managed service provider?
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Managed Services for Small Businesses
Managed services consist of IT experts along with the software and hardware they use to observe and optimize IT network function. The software these providers utilize can help monitor the speed and security of your IT functions, whether it’s in the cloud or on-premise.
In the old days, small businesses would follow the break/fix model of IT staffing. If their servers went down, they’d call in an IT expert to get them up and running again. Managed services are designed to prevent these problems before they happen. Most managed services companies offer 24/7 monitoring of your network and also handle vendor relationships with your web and online software companies, and even cell phone providers. This frees you up to handle your clients and run your agency.
Why Managed Services?
Small CPA firms need technology to stay competitive against larger accounting firms. This makes having managed services almost a necessity; as our connection to IT continues to grow, it often isn’t feasible for smaller firms to hire full or part-time technology expertise. Lagging behind on security patches or backups of crucial functions can mean big problems if hackers compromise your system. Or, if your email goes down – how would that affect your business, particularly during tax season?
Managed services are a way to proactively run a computer network and its myriad applications, from cell phones to software accessed through the internet. That’s why an increasing number of businesses in the small to mid-sized market are seeking to leverage managed services. On-site hardware and software are simply too expensive to maintain and web applications for our daily office tasks like email and calendars can all be done online, eliminating the need for a full-time technology staffer to manage it.
Are Managed Services Expensive?
Managed services work under the internet model of services that we see today. Typically, the small business is billed a lower monthly subscription rate. In the break/fix model, it was very expensive and stressful to have an IT professional come out to get your services back up and running. Broken services meant an IT professional could charge higher rates because you would be anxious to get back up and running. Under managed services, you have a monthly budget-friendly line item, instead of a crisis-related cost.
Cons of Managed Services
Some of the biggest concerns we’ve heard about working directly with a managed services provider have to do with the loss of control that comes from outsourcing IT – one of the most critical infrastructures in any business these days. Managed services firms store your data remotely, outside of your business infrastructure. If you’re hiring a managed services firm, make sure you understand where your data is stored. Also, find out how they handle a crisis after hours; are they outsourcing to an offshore help desk after their business closes its doors for the weekend?
Finding the right partnership is important. The best-managed services firms have made significant investments in technology and infrastructure along with staffing expertise. Small CPA firms should beware of remote dial-in service providers with no credentialing or track record of network maintenance.
Look for companies that have been in the marketplace for a while, since small-managed services companies come and go – like all small businesses do.
Along the same lines, look for network and service reliability as a critical component of any managed technology; downtime costs your agency big money.
Managed Services for CPAs – a Winning Partnership
Outsourcing managed services can be a big win for the small CPA practice. Depending upon your goals and budget, off-site management of your crucial IT functions could be the best thing you’ve ever done for your business.
Find out how TOSS C3 can help your business: Request a quote on managed services today.
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