Managed Services: What Are They, and Do You Need Them?

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Are you a small business owner trying to make the leap to ecommerce but less than experienced with the internet? If so, you should be very interested in a new internet trend known as managed services. Here is a little information about this service, what it does for your business, and how to decide if it is right for you.
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What Is It?

Managed services vary according to the package you buy, but the basic concept is that you outsource certain IT tasks for a reasonable monthly fee. In many cases, the managed services package includes security, alerts, monitoring, customer service, and other functions that require IT experience. Basically, while you are responsible for the day-to-day running of your ecommerce website, someone else handles the details and the troubleshooting related to the actual infrastructure.

Different packages are available, with larger amounts of service costing more than the basics. Basic services usually include monitoring your website for problems, which you are notified about and resolve on your own. More extensive (and expensive) packages include actual problem solving.

The Pros

The major advantages of managed services are that they handle the details of your ecommerce website while allowing you to focus on building your brand and managing your business. If you have ever run a website, you likely are aware of how much time routine maintenance can take up. Backups, patches, and upgrades are just a few things you will have to deal with on an ongoing basis, and each presents its own set of bugs and compatibility issues. The range of managed services available allows you to find a package that it right for your business, your budget, and your level of IT experience.

The Cons

Obviously you have to pay for these services, which can be a strain on a fledgling small business budget. In addition, the smaller packages assume that you have the know-how to understand the root of problems and solve them yourself. Unfortunately, many small business owners may only have the budget for basic services but really need a more comprehensive package in order to get maximum value.

The Alternative

A professional, well-designed website should be relatively easy to maintain. Thus, one of the alternatives is to invest in having your site designed so that you can run it with your level of experience, whatever that may be. If you are having trouble with ongoing tasks, you can often outsource them cheaply to a freelance IT expert or find tutorials teaching you how to perform your own website maintenance. The upfront cost of having a website professionally designed may be a little more, but you will save in the long run by having a lower monthly maintenance cost.

Outsourcing certain tasks can often be a money saver for small business owners, especially if the task requires special knowledge. Are managed services right for your company? There is no ultimate answer to this question; it depends on your unique situation. However, having a professionally designed website often prevents many of the problems that managed services are created to deal with.