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Maximizing Value from Your Managed Service Provider:A Comprehensive Guide for SME Insurance Agencies

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

In the intricate and competitive landscape that small to mid-sized insurance agencies operate in, the threat of market share erosion by competing carriers is ever-present. Amidst such challenges, dealing with a technology infrastructure breakdown is the last thing you want on your plate.

Budget constraints often necessitate accomplishing more with less, which usually precludes the hiring of a dedicated tech team to optimize your hardware and software infrastructure. However, the good news is that there are IT managed service providers who not only comprehend your business but can also contribute towards its growth.

This article aims to shed light on how to fruitfully collaborate with a managed service provider, and how insurance firms can establish productive partnerships with these IT mavens.

The key to flourishing in a challenging business environment could lie in outsourcing to an IT managed service provider. These professionals can manage all or a part of your agency’s IT infrastructure. Services that can be outsourced range from vendor management, email, disaster recovery planning, security and network monitoring, to software, hardware, storage, backup and virtual machines, training, and software/hardware automation and optimization.

Managed service providers offer these services and more, ensuring that your IT infrastructure operates smoothly. But their contributions don't stop there. Managed service providers can assist an agency in managing costs through streamlined services, automation, and cloud-based technology. The era of maintaining on-site hardware is ending; a managed service provider can configure, set up, and maintain a range of subscription-based services that eliminate traditional hardware expenses.

CISCO labels partnering with a managed service provider as "a strategic decision to complement the core business and refocus employee efforts where they really belong."

The transformation of technology from a back-office server room to a key business component necessitates the use of managed service providers. Customers demand immediate access and service. They crave the convenience the internet offers, and we are tasked with providing claims information and support anytime, anywhere, on any digital device.

Fortunately, the cloud has democratized access to high-end technology for small businesses. The Internet has levelled the playing field, offering tools that were previously out of reach for small agency budgets. Secure cloud storage allows agencies to scale seamlessly, adding more services or bandwidth to accommodate growth at minimal cost.

However, managing access and network security in the cloud, integrating and streamlining all the available software and hardware, and choosing the best applications and platforms to enhance client experience are complex tasks. Here, an IT managed service provider comes into play. But caution must be exercised while forming these partnerships.

Choosing the right managed service provider is critical to ensuring consistent, positive outcomes for you and your customers. It's crucial to find a team that's proficient in both your industry and the technology you use. An initial consultation is imperative when choosing an outsourcing partner, as you might be uncertain about the services you require. Ask the potential partner about their industry experience, standard services, data protection protocols, service migration process, and after-hours service issues.

It's also advisable to ask for references and research the firm's history. Given the high turnover in the managed service provider sector, opting for a firm with proven longevity is essential. Lastly, engage in a candid conversation about the effectiveness of your current applications and areas for improvement. The ideal managed service provider will be able to identify ways to streamline technology implementation, saving you time and money.

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