When implemented incorrectly, information technology is a liability that seems like a black hole sucking money and valuable resources out of your business. When implemented correctly, information technology is a strategic asset that enables your business to deliver better customer service, grow and transform into a Digital leader.
What are Managed IT Services?
A Managed Services Provider (MSP) is simply an IT support services provider that agrees a fee in exchange for providing a service to maximise the availability of your business technology estate. Traditionally, this has involved an introductory audit to assess what technology the MSP will be maintaining for your business, service levels are agreed such as availability, call response times, hours of operation, etc. A contract is drawn up, usually for a twelve-month duration, that locks the two businesses into paying for services and delivering the agreed upon IT support services.
Why Choose a Managed Services Provider?
Information technology breaks, that’s just a simple fact of life. Usually this is because it isn’t operated or maintained correctly or simply because its incredibly complex. Just like modern cars, as their design and capabilities have evolved so have their IT maintenance requirements. Previously, many IT support providers, such as PC World Business, traditionally offered reactive IT support services or a break/fix model whereby you break it, they react and fix it – for a fee of course. However, that kind of relationship is fundamentally flawed as your Information Technology needs to break before the ‘fixer’ can make any money. As IT has become much more essential to business operations, the cost of downtime has increased exponentially. So much so that when large companies experience an IT support services failure it becomes headline news. The impact on reputation, customer experience, trust and lost revenue becomes huge so businesses began demanding better solutions from their IT provider. This gave rise to Managed IT support services which filled that void by transitioning reactive IT support to managed IT support.
Managed IT Support Services are a win/win proposition.
Managed Services put your business needs first, enable cost transparency and allow the Financial Director or Head of Procurement to budget for IT spending with greater accuracy. Furthermore, managed IT services eliminate or dramatically reduce Information Technology failures. By implementing a well developed and effective IT strategy in accordance with ITIL and Service Delivery Management best practices, IT budgets become more predictable and failures less frequent. Consequently, the business can reduce its IT support costs which leaves more money within the business to deliver new products and services or perhaps to develop new capabilities such as Digital marketing to drive business growth.
How do I choose a leading Managed Service Provider?
That of course depends on your Information Technology needs, the complexity and size of your business IT estate, the number of employees within your business and sometimes on your business sector. However, there are some general guidelines which may be followed to ensure that the Managed Services Provider you choose is a good fit for your business.
- Service Delivery Management. It’s all about you and your desired business goals. At Microsoft, we implemented a ‘Red Carpet’ onboarding process which meant that a Service Delivery Manager would be assigned to your business whose responsibility included incident and escalation management, regular reporting and trend analysis, service delivery management and co-management of contractual benefits such as software assurance benefits. Essentially the role of a Service Delivery Manager is to ensure that your business obtains maximum value from its investment in IT.
- 24/7/365 Availability. The main objective of a Managed IT Support Services Provider should be to maximise the availability of your Information Technology estate. This means that your IT needs to be monitored 24/7/365 with a team member being available around the clock to respond when there’s a problem. That way, you won’t arrive on Monday morning and discover that your Email system has been down all weekend, just when you were expecting that big order.
- Insurance Policy. A good Managed Services Provider is like an insurance policy for your business technology. This means that an engineer should always be available to provide either remote or onsite IT support whenever needed. Also, make sure they offer professional indemnity insurance for at least £1,000,000. That way if they break your essential business platform or Email service, you can claim financial compensation to put towards paying another support provider to provide a working solution.
- Remote Monitoring and Management. One of the reasons a good Managed IT Support Services Provider is worth their weight in gold is because they provide detailed asset tracking. Most technical support lines will require an asset serial number before they can engage. This is usually so that they can ensure the device is covered with a direct manufacture support contract, however when the network is down, you’re at home and the device that’s broken is in another city (or even another country), then you'll probably be glad that they have a record of the serial number for the broken network switch.
- Diversity of Experience. A good MSP will have a detailed knowledge of your industry and sector and will be able to offer specialised advice such as for the legal, financial or retail sector. At Strategic Asset, we have over fifteen years’ experience of the Formula One, Film, Finance, Legal and Retail sectors and are experts in technologies as diverse as trackside radio and telemetry systems (ATLAS) found on a Formula One Car to restaurant booking systems and point of sale terminals. This smart thinking approach enables domains of excellence to be transferred in the same way that James Dyson gained inspiration and invented the cyclone cleaner after observing a sawmill dust removal cyclone.
- Excellent Customer Service. At Strategic Asset, we're strong believers in delighting our clients so that they become promoters of our business. This customer obsession begins with buyer persona's, empathy maps, and a deep understanding our clients’ needs so that we can provide technology that helps fuel innovation and drive business growth. These are fundamental best practices that form the back bone of our Digital Marketing Agency and Digital Transformation Consulting services which permeate our working methods. For example, the best way to ensure excellent customer service is by not locking clients into a contract with onerous terms, therefore either we perform or you walk.
- 7. Lastly, a good Managed IT Support Services provider will understand your role and can talk to you in a language you understand using business terms that resonate. For example…
Finance: Reduce complexity and costs by consuming cloud based services. You no longer care what technology you use – just what it does. This avoids manufacturer lock in and provides cost transparency - per user, per workload (i.e. email), per month. Business units can be charged on a utilisation basis. Cloud based offerings no longer require contractors to operate, manage and support as the Cloud Solution Provider does this for you.
Procurement: Consolidate contracts and vendors with a single IT support services provider whose responsibility is to manage the complexity, such as a managed IT support services provider. This ensures no ‘finger pointing’ can occur. A single IT support services provider avoids multiple start/finish dates and the service provider maintains the technology. However, ensure they don’t lock you into a contract which may simply transfer the problem to the Finance team.
Technical: By consolidating support to a single IT support services provider with a combined 24/7/365 network operations centre (NOC) and helpdesk, consistency is achieved. Ensure the IT support services provider maintains highly effective and qualified people and processes with tools including an integrated Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solution which automatically tracks serial numbers. As before, ensure the provider is willing to lock you in with performance, not a contract.
In conclusion, technology should help fuel innovation and drive business growth – not hinder it. The right MSP should inspire you with a vision for your business that encapsulates your desired business goals in a Service Delivery Plan, then help you to measure and realise your desired business outcomes whilst delighting you with service. If you’re existing MSP is doing anything less, then they’re simply not working hard enough for your business. And just think of the growth your business could be achieving instead, all those potential new customers that could be looking for your products and services at this very moment. How are you going to find the funding or strategy to reach them whilst the IT budget continues to annually rise? Perhaps it’s time to reduce your IT support costs, grow with Digital marketing and transform your business into a Digital leader.