Business technology has grown incredibly complex over the last decade. Cast your mind back just ten years, and it’s likely the sort of IT your firm used was relatively simple. You might have had a server in the basement, most documents were stored in a shared drive, and you still got updates to your software on a CD-ROM.

But fast forward to 2023, and corporate tech is almost unrecognisable. Far more work than ever is performed and stored online in the cloud. Huge numbers of people are working remotely. The boom in apps and mobile work has challenged fundamental ideas about what and where the workplace is.

Navigating this complexity is very challenging. And that’s where an IT managed services provider (MSP) helps. So, what is an IT MSP, and how do they benefit you?

What is an IT Managed Service Provider?

To quote Tech Target, an MSP is simply “a third-party company that remotely manages a customer’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and end-user systems”. When you engage with an MSP, they will offer support on some – or indeed all – of the management of your company’s technology systems.

Given the ever-growing complexity of business IT, many companies – especially smaller ones – struggle to meet all their technology needs internally. While most companies today have one or two staff who have a decent knowledge of tech, they often lack the bandwidth or expertise to deal with bigger issues. So, rather than hiring a whole in-house IT department, an MSP gives you access to the support you need.

There are a lot of MSPs out there– well over 150,000 worldwide according to one estimate. They are also widely used in industry. One analysis suggests that 83% of UK small and medium businesses already have a relationship with an IT MSP, even if they don’t realise it!

What do IT Managed Service Providers do?

In the simplest terms, an IT MSP is like an outsourced IT department, doing all the things you’d expect a tech team to do for you. Each MSP is different, and they might focus on:

  • Specific industries (e.g., transport, finance, healthcare…)
  • Specific technologies (e.g., Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google…)
  • Specific IT activities (e.g., just networking, just cybersecurity…)
  • Customer ‘size’ or type (services for small companies, medium-sized companies, charity sector)

That being said, many IT MSPs are generalists – capable of offering a wide variety of services to different sectors, using different technologies.

The services list of an MSP is almost unlimited. They can offer everything from helpdesk support to cloud migrations to app development, to training, consultancy, cybersecurity, and much, much more.

What are the benefits of working with an MSP for IT?

Working with an MSP can provide a wealth of benefits – from measurable cost savings, though to intangible advantages such as guidance and advice. Here are some of the benefits of choosing an MSP:

  • Return on Investment

Most firms that engage with an MSP report solid ROI. One study found that 50% of firms who worked with an MSP saved between 1% and 24% on annual IT costs, 33% saved between 25% and 49%, and 13% said they saved more than 50%. These savings come in many forms – from avoiding hiring new IT staff to optimising your spend, to ensuring business continuity, to renegotiating contracts with tech vendors, or implementing new software that saves money.

  • Manage risks

A good MSP will help you deal with many of the biggest tech risks facing businesses today, especially around cybersecurity. They can conduct assessments of your security posture, identify weaknesses, improve processes and offer training. Besides cybersecurity, they can inform you on how to conform to rules and regulations such as the GDPR, and thereby avoid the threat of fines.

Keep learning: Cybersecurity trends for 2023


  • Advice and information

What’s the best cloud environment for your firm? How should you cope with the rise in remote working? What emerging IT trends will affect your industry? A good MSP is almost like an accountant or a financial advisor, giving you personalised, reliable, and (ideally) independent advice to ensure you’re ready for whatever comes your way.


Issues to be aware of when choosing an MSP for IT

While most MSPs provide reliable and high-quality support, it’s worth being aware of certain issues:

  • Not all MSPs are entirely independent – they may have an interest in promoting/upselling certain kinds of software licenses or hardware.
  • Not all MSPs have the same levels of expertise – it’s really worth requesting contracts, evidence of qualifications, case studies, and other evidence an MSP can do what they claim.
  • Not all MSPs offer the same level of support – make sure they have the in-house capabilities to meet your requirements.

Who needs an MSP for IT?

Given how complex modern IT has become, it’s likely that almost all organisations can benefit from working with an MSP in some capacity. Even major businesses that have their own IT departments will sometimes need outside help when using new systems.

That said, MSPs are most widely used by:

  • Small and medium sized enterprises

Most SMEs find that they eventually reach a stage where ‘figuring out IT stuff’ on their own is just no longer efficient or productive. As your firm grows, it eventually becomes necessary to get outside help with planning, deploying and managing different parts of your technology. The good news is that, as noted above, the return on this investment is usually very good.


  • Charities and third-sector organisations

Many non-governmental organisations depend on the support of MSPs for advice, training and tech delivery. Since many NGOs have relatively restricted budgets, it’s rarely possible for them to afford the kinds of salaries that today’s IT workers expect. Getting outsourced help is therefore an effective strategy.


  • Government, councils and public sector

Public sector organisations regularly engage with MSPs for IT support. As with NGOs, public sector organisations often struggle to compete with the salaries offered to permanent IT staff by private firms such as banks, retail companies or the telecoms industry. An MSP offers all the same benefits, but at a much more manageable cost (not to mention flexibility).


  • Start-ups

Start-ups can seriously benefit from outside support to help get the right infrastructure and foundations in place as they plan their growth.


Ready to invest in your organisation’s future?

Choosing to work with an IT Managed Service Provider is an investment in your business. With a partner who really understands your company, its goals, and how you operate, you’ll have access to the support you need to grow and surpass your ambitions.

Ready to work with an MSP? FITTS is a leading provider of managed IT services to a wide range of organisations in Europe and Africa. Our highly experienced, vendor-neutral teams, can support you with everything from cloud migrations to software development, networking, helpdesk support and much more. Contact us today, and learn how we can help you.