In the old days, an association or nonprofit IT director spent their day fixing printers, bringing the server back up, and keeping an eye on the backup tapes. Most employees used email, desktop applications, and a shared drive—that was pretty much it.
Technology back then didn’t power everything like it does now. These days that same IT director has much more to oversee and worry about. And, to keep it even more interesting, staff have access to all sorts of devices and apps.
That’s why many organizations choose to outsource some or all of their IT tasks to a Managed Service Provider (MSP).
What does a Managed Service Provider (MSP) do for associations and nonprofits?
MSPs offer a proactive approach to providing a stable, secure, and reliable IT operating environment. MSPs help associations and nonprofits use their technology more efficiently to support business needs. That’s why organizations hire them.
What does an MSP—also called “managed IT services” or in our case, “Partner Support”—typically offer?
- Always-on, remote hardware and software monitoring and management.
- Cybersecurity management—we call our service “Security Foundation Suite”—including system patching, virus and malware protection, spam filtering, as well as security updates and advice.
- User support via phone and web—also called the Network Operations Center (NOC)—should be available around the clock, 365 days a year, for desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, and peripheral issues.
- Monitoring and corrective action for mission-critical systems.
- Back-office infrastructure management, including Internet connectivity, web applications, servers, and backup.
- Email account management.
- Asset management, such as hardware and software acquisition, and license and warranty renewals.
- Liaison with your other technology vendors.
Although the above features and services are common, MSPs have different approaches to client support. Some MSPs supplement remote support with regular onsite visits. Unlike DelCor, many MSPs have eliminated onsite support altogether. Know what you want and what you’re getting from your MSP.
DelCor, like many MSPs, assigns a network consultant to each client—someone who’ll take a proactive approach to the management of your technology infrastructure. MSPs who don’t provide that level of service risk leaving their client’s infrastructure on “auto-pilot.”
Some MSPs, including DelCor, also offer:
- IT infrastructure strategy, planning, and budgeting.
- Cloud hosting.
- Assistance with office moves and system migrations, for example, Office 365 or VoIP.
- CIO services.
Many MSPs specialize in a niche, for example, healthcare or credit unions. DelCor specializes exclusively in 501(c) organizations. An MSP who has a commitment to and experience working with a specific professional community better understands the business models, operations, and specialized technology in that niche. For example, because we’re entrenched in the work of associations, our team understands why your AMS is vital to your organization and how it fits into your business processes. But our consultants’ experience and expertise is not limited to association software and systems—you get the best of all worlds.
10 Reasons to Work with an MSP
Here are ten reasons to consider outsourcing some or all of your association or nonprofit’s IT needs to an MSP.
#1: IT shouldn’t have to be a core competency.
For most associations and nonprofits, IT is not a core competency, nor should it be. You don’t have to invest limited resources on hiring and training an internal IT staff to manage your network when an MSP can easily handle it on your behalf.
Working with an MSP allows your IT team to shift focus toward more strategic concerns and leave time-consuming, rote network management to the experts who do just that. While the MSP takes care of infrastructure, the IT team has more time to work with departments on technology initiatives, like maximizing the use of your AMS, aligning your website with other systems, or working to advance technologies pertinent to your membership (perhaps even contributing to non-dues revenue).
#2: Minimize security risks. Maximize peace of mind.
Cybersecurity is a huge risk management issue for associations and nonprofits—an around-the-clock job requiring dedicated attention and expertise. An MSP with a proactive approach to cybersecurity identifies and eliminates vulnerabilities, monitors and updates software, and detects threats before they cause chaos. Plus, the MSP’s hosted environment is generally more secure than on-premise servers.
#3: Make IT operations more efficient.
MSPs apply proven standards, processes, and metrics that have been developed and refined by years of experience with organizations of different sizes and structures. An MSP troubleshoots support issues as they arise, while proactive measures are implemented to prevent incidents and downtime.
#4: Implement IT cost control.
When working with an MSP, you can more easily predict IT costs as well as the type of cost—the information needed for budgeting and accounting purposes.
Because expenses are shared across its client base, an MSP brings economies of scale to clients. In addition to knowing an entire team’s got your back, you get more IT bang for your buck.
You can also take advantage of your MSP’s purchasing power for the hardware, software, and licenses you need. Plus purchases made through your MSP are automatically tracked for renewal and replacement.
Best of all, your organization no longer has to hire, train, and certify as many (or any) IT staff.
#5: Supplement or fill IT staff gaps.
Organizations sometimes work with an MSP because they don’t have enough IT staff or staff with specific IT skills. Or, they don’t want (or can’t afford) to hire fulltime IT staff. In these cases, the MSP acts as your outsourced IT department. Some MSPs, like DelCor, also offer customized CIO services.
#6: Improve staff productivity.
An MSP’s guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) extends the scope of support beyond what an in-house IT staff can usually provide. We especially notice this need with organizations spanning multiple time zones.
Your MSP is always on the job. You don’t have to worry about IT staff being out sick or out of town. If the unthinkable ever does happen, with an MSP in charge you can be sure a business continuity and disaster recovery plan is in place, and data backups have been tested and can be restored.
#7: Resolve nagging IT issues.
Every IT department has them: a never-ending list of issues to resolve…just as soon as they find time to resolve them. When you hire an MSP, problems are tracked centrally, minimizing the likelihood that issues are tolerated, ignored, or dropped. More importantly, problems are anticipated and prevented before they become nagging issues.
#8: Take advantage of an MSP’s flexibility.
With an MSP, you can pick and choose what you want to outsource. You can keep some tasks in-house while outsourcing the time-consuming, mundane tasks or those that require specialized expertise.
You can also scale IT services up or down as your business needs dictate, for example, during annual events or staffing transitions.
#9: Be ready for the future.
As your business needs evolve, an MSP can make recommendations for how your technology must change too. They help you leverage the latest technology so you can move forward confidently—without the headaches associated with maintaining networks and systems.
An MSP that’s committed to your industry brings something extra to the relationship. At DelCor, we have firsthand experience of what’s happening now and in the future across a wide swath of organizations, and we’re committed to advancing association technology, for example, through our support of the ASAE Foundation’s research.
#10: Leverage an MSP’s team of talent.
New technology challenges arise quickly—and often. It’s difficult for a small IT staff to have the across-the-board expertise necessary to keep an organization safe and well-positioned for the future. An MSP brings you a deep bench of technical experts who constantly hone their expertise through both professional development and on-the-job experience with a variety of clients.
If you’re interested in reading (and learning) more, we’ve got more for you:
Want to talk about whether managed services are right for you?