So much of your organization’s success depends on technology and the services that your IT department delivers to your business. Today, you are working with an ever shrinking budget and fewer resources while being responsible for a network that must be available and working at maximum capacity to keep the business running. You also need to lead your organization with an eye to the future, no wonder you’re feeling a little overwhelmed!
Your Partner – Not your replacement
Managed service providers (MSPs) are rapidly becoming the gold standard for outsourcing the day-to-day management responsibilities and operations of corporations worldwide. This allows the IT staff to focus on more strategic projects, better customer service and initiatives that drive revenue and business growth. A solid MSP will complement rather than replace your internal IT staff. Here are some examples of how.
- A solid MSP will bring your IT staff out of the shadows within your organization to focus on a custom app dev project or cloud initiative — something highly strategic. This is a win-win for all involved.
- Measurable Cost Savings are a primary benefit of MSP introduction along with generating revenue and helping the company become more efficient and IT more reliable.
- Even security has evolved from being considered a roadblock to a reason for MSP acceptance, primarily because it has become clear that security problems are often the result of human error by internal staff.
- Enhanced security and compliance are a major concern today and a forward looking MSP can help improve and protect on both fronts.
- Patch management, AV and Firewall monitoring along with application monitoring all become a non-issue for you and your staff.
Most CIOs and IT Managers are considering looking into MSP services as a possible solution to their excessive workload, but worry about trusting a service provider to manage their network, the heart of their business. Is there a way to remove these burdens and the frustration of day-to-day network management without adding to the fear of losing control?
Here are a few signs that your network management may be too much to handle on your own:
1. You lack the required management tools.
This is a discipline on its own. The proper selection, configuration, management, and use of network management tools require specialist skills. Poor use of these tools can result in a lack of diagnostic support information, and incorrect or misleading information, which defeats the purpose of having them. Management tools are also expensive to have in-house if you don’t have a large number of assets.
2. You’re not using all your technology to its full potential.
Your IT division is just too small to properly run and manage all your advanced technologies, so the return on those investments remains unrealized. The vendors from which you’ve bought the technologies can’t help either because their contracts don’t include operational management.
3. Your service levels are not improving and downtimes are increasing.
You seem to be working in crisis mode all the time, so keeping your network up and running leaves no time to make improvements and dedicating resources to improvement is out of the question since you need all the hands you can get to put out the daily fires. All of this leads to increased downtime, poor change and event management, and extended repair times when things go wrong.
4. Your costs are escalating … not decreasing.
It’s becoming more and more expensive to manage your network in-house because you lack scale in your department. You hire expensive experts to deliver low-end services, because you just don’t have the budget to make a distinction in skills levels. Everyone in your division does everything.
5. Your business unit managers are engaging with outside providers.
All too often we see department heads outsource IT-as-a-service options directly from a provider without involving the IT division. The perception is that the service they get there is more responsive and prompt, and therefore suits their immediate requirements better than depending on their own IT resources.
6. Your users complain that they have a better experience at home than at work.
Today’s employees, particularly the younger generations, are more tech savvy and connected at home than ever before. As a result, they’re more demanding and have a low tolerance for poor services or underperforming technology.
7. Your customers complain about not getting the same level of service from you as they get from your competition. Without always looking to improving your infrastructure, it’s hard to keep your competitive edge. You’re starting to fall behind the market in terms of launching new offerings.
If you recognize any (or all) of these symptoms, you should see this as red flag to look for help, but remember, do not let your anxiety about losing strategic control of your network stop you from looking for sourcing management help from a local MSP. This could cause you to lose control of your operations instead. You may already be losing the trust of your business to deliver new and forward-thinking services. And that’s only the first step, once trust is lost, so is influence. Before long, important top-level decisions about the vision, mission, and evolution of the business as a whole might be bypassing the IT division altogether.
It is time to ask for help. If your question is still whether it’s possible to rid your cash-poor and understaffed department of the frustration of day-to-day maintenance without giving up control of your network’s strategic future, the answer is a yes.
Look for a partner that is prepared to go that extra mile and fully align their solution with your business needs as this might be the most crucial of all the decisions you need to make. An MSP isn’t the same as a provider of basic maintenance services. A vendor, for example, may look after only its own brand of technologies in your network, and has no visibility or say over the rest.
An MSP is not the same as an outsourced model. In an outsourced model, the provider is both responsible and accountable for the infrastructure. The provider owns the strategy and the financial management and, after consulting with you, provides a service back to you at a negotiated level. With an MSP, you retain financial and strategic control and are still accountable. The service provider is responsible only for the day-to- day operations.
A few strong questions to ask a potential MSP when considering its services:
- Are you able and willing to customize your service(s) to suit any special needs or gaps I identify in my operational model?
- How is your service packaged? Tell me about the elements and what they cover.
- How is your service delivered? Tell me about your systems and processes and how they measure up to industry standards.
- How do your service and its delivery model measure up to your competition?
There’s at least one very good reason to move some IT-related functions into the hands of an outside provider: Revenue. A number of organizations are finding that MSP agreements are exceeding cost-savings expectations and covering essential needs such as tech troubleshooting, integration and cyber-security. CIOs and senior IT managers are saying MSPs can provide a number of both strategic and ROI-boosting benefits.
While the number of companies that rely on an outside IT provider is growing, customers’ usage is somewhat selective. Most companies are using an MSP for only a few applications, such as email hosting, customer relationship management (CRM) applications, storage, backup and recovery, and network monitoring. And remember, bringing an MSP on board frees up your IT staff to work on more strategic projects. It elevates the IT staff and brings them into the front of the decision making processes.
Even if you are a one or two-person company and doing everything today, at some point there will likely not be enough hours in the day to keep up, or you will reach a point where you may not have the skills or expertise to do the job as effectively as you would like.
There are several reasons why you might want to outsource your IT needs to an MSP.
- These companies have a larger pool of resources than that of an individual IT direct hire.
- They have multiple employees that can assist you during a time of need, if your IT manager is sick or on vacation, your company can still continue working when a printer catches fire.
- There are no training costs to keep up with the constant changes in technology.
- They monitor your systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If there is a problem, they are alerted to it immediately and can fix it before the office even opens in the morning. Monday mornings often bring weekend server failures that can cripple the start of the workweek. An MSP will help to minimize this, even eliminate it.
- They don’t have the hidden costs that come with an employee (vacation, insurance, sick time). Consultants are likely to cost less—far less in some cases.
“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” – Robert Gallagher