What is a Managed Service Provider?

Managed Service Provider

The Ultimate Guide for Small to Mid-Sized Organizations


In today’s digital landscape, the success of any organization hinges on efficient and agile operations. That is why Managed Service Providers were created in the first place.

For small to mid-sized businesses and local government offices, the ability to respond quickly to the ever-changing technological environment is vital. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offer an attractive solution to this challenge, helping organizations leverage technology to optimize their operations.

MSPs provide a wide range of services, from remote IT support to comprehensive network management. By outsourcing these tasks to experts, organizations can focus on their core competencies, reduce overhead costs, and improve their overall efficiency.

With increasing demands on IT infrastructure and a growing need for cybersecurity measures, it’s no wonder companies are looking for ways to streamline their operations.

In this guide, we’ll explore the concept of a Managed Service Provider, their history, services offered, benefits to small and medium-sized businesses, and various billing models.

Additionally, we will address the potential issues and cybersecurity concerns of outsourcing IT services, providing you with the information to help you make a profitable decision.

Let’s get started…


What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

Dedicated IT technician

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a company that provides various IT services, managing them on behalf of their clients. These services are typically administered remotely, which allows MSPs to offer efficient and cost-effective solutions. As a result, MSPs support businesses by reducing the need for in-house IT teams and streamlining operations.



Managing and Maintaining Your Infrastructure

Managed Service Providers are crucial in managing and maintaining the IT infrastructure for public and private organizations.

By outsourcing IT services to expert providers, businesses and local governments can focus on their core business and reap the benefits of improved efficiency and agility.


Let’s explore a couple of real-world examples:

One example is the City of Winston-Salem, which partnered with an Managed Service Provider to manage its IT services. This partnership enabled the city to reduce IT staff by 30%, resulting in significant cost savings.

Additionally, the MSP implemented robust cybersecurity measures, addressing the city’s growing concerns about protecting sensitive data.


Another compelling case study is the collaboration between Imagine IT and a mid-sized manufacturing company. By outsourcing its IT services to Imagine IT, the company was able to streamline its operations, reduce downtime, and enhance its overall productivity.

This partnership led to a 30% increase in efficiency, showcasing the transformative power of MSPs.


The Human Touch 

While MSPs are technology-driven, they are also deeply rooted in human relationships.

A great MSP understands the unique needs of each organization and crafts tailor-made solutions to meet those requirements. By providing personalized attention and support, MSPs forge lasting partnerships with organizations and act as an extension of their in-house teams.

For instance, when the Smith Dental Group faced a ransomware attack, their MSP swiftly mitigated the damage and prevented further attacks. The MSP also provided ongoing support, helping the dental group maintain strong cybersecurity measures and instilling confidence in their partnership.


The Importance of Data-Driven Decision-Making

Disable JavaScriptIn today’s competitive business landscape, data-driven decision-making is crucial for success. Managed Service Providers play a vital role in helping organizations harness the power of data by providing comprehensive analytics and insights.

By leveraging their expertise, MSPs enable businesses to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

A study by CompTIA found that organizations partnering with MSPs experienced a 25% reduction in IT costs and a 50% increase in operational efficiency. This research underscores the potential benefits of engaging an MSP and highlights the importance of data-driven decision-making.

Managed Service Providers offer many benefits to small to mid-sized organizations and local government offices. From improving efficiency and agility to providing personalized support and data-driven insights.

Moving to the next section, we will briefly examine its history. And explore the challenges and potential risks of partnering with MSPs … and delve into cybersecurity concerns.



History of Managed Service Providers

Let’s take a step back and examine the history of MSPs to understand their origins and evolution.


The Dawn of Managed Service Providers: The Early Days of IT Outsourcing

The concept of MSPs traces its roots back to the 1990s when the rapid advancement of technology led to the emergence of IT outsourcing. As a result, businesses began to recognize the value of outsourcing their IT services to expert providers to focus on their core competencies.

In these early days, Managed Service Providers primarily offered basic services such as network monitoring and infrastructure management.

An example of an early MSP is IBM’s Global Services division, which was launched in 1991 and played a pivotal role in shaping the industry. IBM’s innovative approach to IT outsourcing laid the groundwork for developing the MSP market.


Expanding Managed Service Providers: The Rise of Specialized Services

As technology continued to evolve and the needs of businesses grew more complex, MSPs began to offer a wider range of specialized services. These services encompassed everything from data storage and backup to cybersecurity and cloud computing.

This expansion allowed MSPs to cater to the unique requirements of small to mid-sized organizations and local government offices, further solidifying their value.

One notable example of this expansion is the introduction of Microsoft’s Azure cloud services in 2008. This development marked a significant milestone in the Managed Service Provider industry, enabling providers to offer their clients scalable and flexible cloud solutions.


The Next-Generation Managed Service Provider

Next Gen Managed Service Provider

Today, MSPs have evolved into comprehensive IT service providers with a holistic approach to managing an organization’s IT infrastructure.

This includes remote support and proactive monitoring to strategic planning and technology consulting. By taking a proactive approach to IT management, modern Managed Service Providers help organizations of all sizes to optimize their operations and stay ahead of the curve.

For instance, ConnectWise, a leading MSP, offers a complete suite of IT services that cater to the unique needs of small to mid-sized organizations and local government offices. Their comprehensive approach to IT management has earned them a reputation as a trusted partner in the MSP industry.



Embracing the Digital Revolution

As technology advances rapidly, the role of MSPs in small to mid-sized organizations and local government offices is expected to grow even further.

With the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G, the demand for expert IT service providers will only increase.

The history of Managed Service Providers like Imagine IT is a testament to their adaptability and growth in response to the ever-changing technological landscape.

As we look to the future, MSPs are poised to play an even greater role in helping these organizations embrace the digital revolution.


What Managed Service Providers Do?

In our exploration of Managed Service Providers (MSPs), we’ve discussed their history, evolution, and potential benefits for small to mid-sized organizations and local government offices.

Now, let’s focus on the core question: What exactly do Managed Service Providers do for small to midsized organizations?

In this section, we’ll provide an in-depth look at the services and solutions offered by MSPs and how they relate to your organization.


1. Streamlined Communication Tools

MSPs assist organizations and local governments in implementing and manage communication tools such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, instant messaging platforms, and video conferencing solutions. These tools enable employees to communicate and collaborate effectively, regardless of location, leading to increased productivity and better decision-making.


2. Proactive Cybersecurity Management

Biggest cyber security mistakes for SMBs

As the threat landscape evolves, MSPs provide proactive cybersecurity management services to protect companies and governments from emerging risks. This includes continuous monitoring, threat detection, and incident response to mitigate potential cyberattacks and ensure business continuity.


3. Collaborative Platforms and Document Management

They also help deploy and manage cloud-based collaborative platforms like Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and other document management systems.

These platforms allow teams to work together in real-time, streamlining workflows and ensuring everyone can access the most up-to-date information.


4. Remote Work and Mobile Device Management

As remote work becomes increasingly common, MSPs play a vital role in helping support remote workforces. They can implement and manage mobile device management (MDM) solutions. Which enables employees to securely access company resources and collaborate effectively from their mobile devices.


5. Customized Solutions for Industry-Specific Needs

MSPs work closely with SMBs to understand their unique communication and collaboration needs. And provide tailored solutions for different industries. For example, an MSP may offer specialized tools for healthcare organizations. Including telemedicine platforms, electronic health records (EHR) systems, and secure messaging services that comply with HIPAA regulations.


6. Employee Training and Support

employee training

MSPs provide ongoing training and support for employees, ensuring they can effectively use collaboration and communication tools.

This includes offering user training, troubleshooting assistance, and timely software updates to maintain optimal performance.

MSPs are pivotal in fostering a connected and collaborative workforce by providing tailored communication and collaboration tools, remote work support, and ongoing training. As a result, they enable businesses to harness the full potential of their workforce and drive innovation.



How Managed Service Providers Help Businesses

In today’s business environment. Small and mid-sized businesses must stay agile and adapt to new technologies and market trends.

Managed Service Providers are crucial in helping organizations of every size future-proof their operations.  Including …


  • Strategic IT Planning and Consultation

MSPs offer strategic IT planning and consultation services. They work closely to assess their current technology landscape and identify areas for improvement. By aligning IT investments with business objectives, MSPs can develop a roadmap for long-term success.


  • Robust Cybersecurity Measures

Cyber Security

With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, they provide robust security measures, protecting businesses’ sensitive data and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.

By implementing multi-layered security strategies and ongoing monitoring, MSPs can detect and respond to threats, safeguarding reputation and financial stability.


  • Seamless Technology Integration and Migration

As new technologies emerge, businesses must be able to integrate them quickly and effectively into their existing infrastructure. MSPs assist in evaluating, selecting, and implementing new solutions and ensuring seamless integration and minimal disruption to your operations.

This includes migrating to cloud-based systems, deploying new software applications, and incorporating emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).


  • Regular Technology Assessments and Upgrades

MSPs conduct regular technology assessments to ensure you use the most up-to-date and effective tools for their needs. In addition, by identifying outdated systems or software, they can recommend and facilitate upgrades, helping businesses stay current with the latest technological advancements.


  • Comprehensive IT Support and Helpdesk Services

Hourly IT support


Managed Service Providers provide remote and on-site technical support, ensuring businesses can access expert assistance whenever needed. In addition, by offering a dedicated helpdesk service, they can address IT issues quickly and efficiently, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity.



  • Infrastructure Management and Monitoring

From network monitoring to server maintenance, they manage an organization’s IT infrastructure, allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies. By proactively identifying potential bottlenecks and addressing issues before they impact operations. They help maintain optimal system performance and reduce the risk of costly downtime.


  • Cloud Services and Migration

MSPs help organizations migrate to the cloud, offering scalable and flexible solutions that drive innovation and cost savings. By assessing the specific needs of a business, they can recommend the most suitable cloud infrastructure, whether it’s public, private, or hybrid. This ensures a seamless transition and ongoing management, allowing businesses to take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing.


  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

data backup

They can develop and implement strategies to minimize downtime and ensure that organizations can quickly recover from unexpected events, such as natural disasters or cyberattacks. By creating comprehensive disaster recovery plans and providing regular testing. MSPs ensure that businesses are prepared to resume operations promptly during a disruption.




  • Managed Server Applications and Services

Managed Service Providers manage server-based applications, such as databases and email servers, ensuring optimal performance and reliability. By taking responsibility for maintaining and managing these critical applications, they free up internal resources, allowing businesses to focus on their core operations and growth initiatives.


  • Update and Patch Management

They manage updates and patches for software and hardware, keeping systems up-to-date and secure. In addition, managed Service Providers help businesses mitigate security risks and maintain compliance with industry standards by automating this process and ensuring timely implementation.


The Benefits of Partnering with an MSP

As businesses increasingly rely on technology for their operations, the role of Managed Service Providers has grown in importance.

Benefits of a Managed Service PRovider

By partnering with an MSP, you can enjoy a range of benefits, including reduced IT costs, increased productivity, and improved overall operational efficiency.

And they offer a comprehensive suite of services that cater to each organization’s unique needs, providing tailored solutions that drive growth and success.



MSPs offer several advantages to small and medium-sized businesses:

  • Cost Savings: Outsourcing IT services to an MSP can reduce the need for in-house IT staff, lowering labor and operational costs.
  • Scalability: MSPs offer scalable solutions, allowing businesses to grow or downsize their IT services as needed.
  • Expertise: MSPs have a well-versed team of experts in various IT disciplines, ensuring businesses receive the best possible service.
  • Risk Reduction: By managing and maintaining IT infrastructure, MSPs help reduce the risk of downtime, security breaches, and data loss.
  • Focus on Core Business: Outsourcing IT services allows businesses to focus on their core operations while the MSP handles IT responsibilities.


The 4 types of Managed Services:


1. Managed IT Services

The core offerings of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) include a range of critical services that help small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) maintain a reliable and secure IT infrastructure.

The key components of managed IT services Include:

  • Remote monitoring and management
  • Cyber security
  • Digital Transformation
  • Network and Technical Infrastructure Management
  • Cloud Services and Virtualization
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery

Imagine IT is a prime example of an MSP that offers comprehensive managed IT services tailored to the unique needs of SMBs. Check out this Forbes article for more insights on the benefits of managed IT services.


2. Managed Security Services

Managed Cyber Security

In an era where cyber threats are constantly evolving, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) must prioritize the security of their digital assets. Managed Security Services (MSS) offered by Managed Service Providers (MSPs) help SMBs protect their IT infrastructure and sensitive data, ensuring business continuity and compliance.



Key components of managed security services include:

  • Security Risk Assessment and Management
  • Firewall and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Management
  • Endpoint Protection and Antivirus Management
  • Security Training and Awareness Programs
  • Multi-factor Authentication
  • Annual Security Risk Assessments
  • Patch Management

Managed security services offer SMBs a comprehensive solution to protect their IT infrastructure and data from cyber threats.

These services provide peace of mind and contribute to the long-term success and growth of SMBs in a digital world.


3. Managed Communication and Collaboration Services

business meeting onlineEffective communication and collaboration are essential for the success of small and mid-sized businesses. Managed Communications and Collaboration Services offered by Managed Service Providers enable organizations to collaborate efficiently and seamlessly, sharing information and ideas.

Key components of managed communications and collaboration services include:

  • Email Hosting and Management
  • Unified Communications
  • Collaboration Tools

Managed communications and collaboration services offered by MSPs help SMBs work together more efficiently, enhancing productivity and driving business growth. These services are essential for SMBs looking to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving business landscape.


4. Managed Application and Software Services

Small and mid-sized organizations now rely on a range of applications and software to drive their operations.

Managed Application and Software Services offered by Managed Service Providers help organizations manage their applications and software, ensuring they are reliable, secure, and up-to-date.

Key components of managed application and software services include

  • Application Hosting and Management
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) Management
  • Patch Management and Software Updates
  • Custom Application Development and Support

Managed application and software services offered by MSPs help SMBs maximize their digital capabilities, optimizing their IT infrastructure to meet their business needs. In addition, these services allow you to adapt quickly to changing market demands and stay ahead of the competition.


Billing Models and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with Managed Service Providers


IT Support Costs In Minneapolis and St. Paul

When partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP), it’s essential to understand the billing models and service level agreements (SLAs) they offer.

These aspects play a significant role in ensuring a successful and mutually beneficial relationship with a provider.

This section will explore the various billing models and the importance of establishing clear SLAs with your chosen provider.



Billing Models for Managed Service Providers

MSPs typically offer different billing models to cater to the diverse needs and budget constraints of SMBs. Some of the most common billing models include:

  1. Per-Device Pricing: This model charges a flat fee for each device under management, such as desktops, laptops, servers, or network devices. Per-device pricing allows for predictable costs and is ideal for businesses with a stable device count.
  2. Per-User Pricing: In this model, the MSP charges a flat fee for each user, covering all the devices used by that individual. This approach is well-suited for organizations with employees using multiple devices or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.
  3. Tiered Pricing: MSPs offer multiple service tiers with different features and support levels. SMBs can choose the story that best aligns with their needs and budget. This model provides flexibility and allows businesses to scale their IT services as they grow.
  4. All-Inclusive Pricing: The flat-rate pricing model charges a fixed monthly fee for all the services included in the MSP’s offering. All-inclusive pricing provides predictable costs and comprehensive support but may be more expensive than other models.


Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with Managed Service Providers

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a crucial component of the MSP-SMB partnership. SLAs outline the scope of services, performance expectations, and the responsibilities of both parties. Some key aspects of an SLA include the following:

  • Service Scope: Clearly defined list of services to be provided by the MSP, such as helpdesk support, infrastructure management, and cybersecurity services.
  • Performance Metrics: Quantifiable measures of the MSP’s performance, including response times, resolution times, and uptime guarantees.
  • Escalation Procedures: Outline the process for escalating unresolved issues or concerns, ensuring timely resolution and customer satisfaction.
  • Communication and Reporting: Expectations for regular communication and reporting between the MSP and the client, including the frequency and format of status updates.
  • Data Security and Privacy: Details of the MSP’s security measures to protect the client’s sensitive data and ensure compliance with industry regulations.
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Description of the MSP’s plan for recovering data and restoring services in the event of a disaster or unexpected disruption.
  • Termination and Transition: Clauses outlining the procedures for terminating the agreement and transitioning services, ensuring a smooth handover if the partnership ends.

When choosing an MSP, you should carefully evaluate the billing models and SLAs to ensure they align with their business needs and expectations.

A well-defined SLA can help prevent misunderstandings and foster a successful, long-term partnership with a Managed Service Provider.


The MSP-SMB Partnership: How to Choose the Right MSP

MSP Partnership


Choosing the right Managed Service Provider is critical for small and mid-sized businesses.

The right MSP can help optimize your IT infrastructure, enhance security posture, and drive business growth.




Here are 5 things to consider:

  1. Define your specific IT needs and objectives to ensure alignment with the MSP’s services and expertise.
  2. Research MSPs’ industry experience and reputation by reading customer testimonials and case studies.
  3. Verify their technical certifications and staff qualifications to ensure they possess the necessary expertise.
  4. Evaluate their cybersecurity measures and data protection policies to safeguard your sensitive information.
  5. Examine their billing models and pricing structures to find a cost-effective solution for your budget.

If you would like to read a full guide on how to choose the best MSP for your organization, check out this article:  9 Key Questions When Vetting Any Managed IT Service Provider




This article explored Managed Service Providers’ role in small and mid-sized businesses and local governments.

We have discussed how they offer various services that can increase efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings while improving security and reliability.

We have seen how they can help organizations stay updated with the latest technologies and remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Through our exploration of various IT provider services, we have seen how they can help businesses with IT infrastructure management, security, communication, collaboration, and software management.

As technology continues to change, improve, and increase in importance to the success of your operations. Your IT provider must understand your industry and your goals.

Managed Service Providers are not perfect for every sized organization.

But, as every organization becomes more digital, an experienced technology partner is vital.

We hope this Managed Service Provider guide gives you a better understanding so you can make the best choice for your organization.

By partnering with an experienced Managed Service Provider like Imagine IT, organizations can benefit from expert MSP support, customized solutions, and ongoing communication and support.



Thank you for your referral!