What is an MSP?

Before Vermont Panurgy, I managed a trade school in the Pittsburgh (PA) area with three physical locations. The school offered associates degrees in four disciplines: dental assisting, medical assisting, medical coding and billing and massage therapy.

With multiple locations, over 300 students and 100 employees, the school utilized a wide variety of computers, printers and software applications for operational, student and compliance needs. Each location also had a library offering access to computers and printers for all students. It was therefore critical that all school IT systems functioned properly and with virtually no downtime.

As with many small businesses, we did not have the budget for a dedicated technology department. To get by, I did what I could and tapped the semi-technical abilities of the company’s controller. This worked well in some situations, but it also took away from the controller’s and my time and resulted in partial fixes rather than a comprehensive, proactive monitoring of our technology systems.

Therefore, I began to look for a more comprehensive solution. My objective was to find a service provider that could support the school’s computers and printers as well as several applications (like SharePoint and QuickBooks) residing on the cloud; and obviously at a reasonable cost.

I began with what many people do when they don’t really know what they want … use Google.

I began to enter key words and terms in Google such as “desktop support”; “IT”; “computer repair”; “computer services”; “IT systems”; etc. I thought I was thorough in my selections; I was not. I should also have been looking up the terms “managed services”, “managed services provider”, “fixed fee IT support” or “set fee IT support.”

For sure, the search I did conduct yielded a variety of support providers and some looked to be right in line with the school’s needs. After several follow-ups, I thought I found the ideal match. Subsequently, I arranged for an in person meeting along with several senior school managers and me.

While the meeting went well, the subsequent engagement letter from the support provider was not close to what we wanted in terms of daily support and cost. The proposed terms started with a large, up-front retainer fee with support focusing on the development of a longer-term strategy of systems upgrades and conversions. Disappointing to say the least given the discussion at the in-person meeting.

We did not move forward with that proposal. In fact, we continued to limp along with the existing patchwork of internal IT support because of that experience and not being able to find what we needed.

Here is the irony: I left that position and about a year later acquired Vermont Panurgy … exactly the type of support provider we needed at the school; albeit in a different state.

So what is the lesson here? Actually, there are two lessons and my suggestion: 1) When searching for an IT support provider, thoroughly research applicable terms and nomenclature; and 2) think about what you need and want in a provider.  I suggest you contact Vermont Panurgy!

Oh, and lastly, MSP means Managed Service Provider, which is what we are. Vermont Panurgy delivers IT services such as network updates, application and infrastructure management and security measures via regular remote support and/or active administration on our customers’ premises. Our overarching goals are to ensure that our customers’ IT systems are always operational and secure.

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