Is a Managed Service Provider Right for Me?
Have you ever heard the term “one-person shop?” That phrase epitomized my first year in K-12 schools when I was hired as the technology coordinator of a small rural school district in Indiana. My undergrad education prepared me to teach technology, like Hypercard and Linkway (showing my age here). But it didn’t prepare me to troubleshoot computers, remove viruses, run network cable, or perform network administrator tasks.
I realized I needed help! Especially for those higher level or network engineering tasks. My solution was to reach out to a trusted provider who could offer the support I needed. It was the best decision I could have made. The Managed Service Provider (MSP) I contracted was accessible by phone and came onsite when I needed them. I went from a team of one (or two counting my student assistant) to a team of many. They were a valuable extension of my technology department that I could not have survived without.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying MSPs are only for one person shops or small or rural schools. I would be willing to venture there are many school districts, regardless of size, that are feeling the pressure to keep up with support demands. In fact, recent research from Indiana and Kentucky shows the reality. A majority of school districts are understaffed when looking at the device to technicians or device to FTE ratios. The number of devices has increased while the number of technicians hasn’t followed suit.
So when do you turn for help? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Determine your Device: Technician and Technician: FTE ratios. Your ratios should ideally be at or below 600:1 (Device: Technician) or 1:550 (Technician: FTE). If they are higher, you are most likely feeling a little overwhelmed.
Assess the current technical knowledge and abilities of your current technology staff. You may already have staff members who have the ability to complete certain higher-level projects. Sometimes, the time and effort to complete those may not equal optimal efficiency.
Research Managed Service Providers. Not all MSPs are the same. Know what you can handle and where you need additional support. If you are a school or district, find a partner who knows K-12 education. Interview them and see who is the best fit for you.
Even though my first role as a technology director was over 20 years ago, the needs I had are still relevant today. As you consider the size and capacity of your technology department, here are three reasons to consider leveraging the capabilities of a Managed Service Provider.
Add Players – If you find your team shorthanded, adding an MSP instantly adds multiple high quality and experienced players to your roster. Whether you are flying solo or with a team, partnering with experts eliminates the time you and your team spend researching higher-level issues.
Budget-Friendly – Hourly time blocks can be expensive and can present issues with multiple invoices. MSPs offer predictable rates that can be built into a budget.
Peace of Mind – Trust me. You’ll sleep easier knowing there is a team behind you monitoring your network, troubleshooting and keeping your infrastructure up-to-date. That expertise is only a call, email or Slack message away.