When people consider managed services, sometimes they immediately think of the tangible IT resources in their office—for example, a printer that is not working, or a laptop that’s on the fritz.
While this kind of hardware break/fix definitely has a place in the managed services landscape, organizations with IT departments that need a helping hand to run more smoothly get the most value from the four key components of managed services that can’t be seen.
Managed Services is a particular type of business relationship that absolutely requires trust. Sometimes, staff at the client site inherits IT responsibilities, has them added to their plate despite not being in their job description, or may even be in way over their head in terms of technical ability or compliance considerations.
The provider’s job is to tread lightly and take the time to listen, so that a relationship that works over the long term can develop. Just as employee churn has a real cost for businesses, vendor churn sucks up resources and leads to productivity losses as well.
Cultivating trust ensures that the client can be honest about real problems, and the vendor can be realistic about fixes.
All of us have come into work in the morning to discover the phone or internet is down, or have tried to log into a system only to have it spin and spin. When they are working correctly, the underlying application and infrastructure layers of the business should create a seamless experience. When they are not working, it leads to frustration and sometimes anger.
This invisible layer is largely what keeps businesses going, and it’s the hardest piece for not-technical or understaffed departments to address on their own.
Whether it’s conflicts that arise from application upgrades, deployments, or changes; infrastructure that’s clunky or incompatible with other systems; or even more serious concerns like ransomware or virus infections, software and hardware is one of the most challenging pieces of a business operation and the easiest to outsource.
Most managed service providers will be able to offer you at least basic application expertise — and many of them can also provide advanced administration and hardware architecture design. They will also be able to offer you uptime, which ensures that the physical infrastructure is available to you 24/7/365.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of working through an automation project with a Green House Data client who was building software packages for their customer base. Each time they had to build an application, it took roughly 45 minutes to compete a build from start to end. By doing an in-depth review of their build process, we discovered a way to optimize their workflow that saved them roughly 25 minutes per build while migrating them the dependence on legacy FTP file transmission. That’s doesn’t sound so long on the surface, but when we consider that this process needed to be completed four or five times every working day, suddenly we are looking at a great deal of time.
As it turns out, automating this cloud provisioning process saved the client a little over 56 workdays of time (that’s right around 12 weeks—an entire quarter).
This automation project was, of course, billable on a one-time basis, but the client gets to keep the cost savings for as long as the process remains relevant to the business. You could even call this type of outsourcing “break/fix for your IT processes.”
Finally, everyone has their “need to haves” and their “nice to haves”. Good Managed Service providers are experts at both. Once you have the nuts and bolts covered, it’s worth talking to your provider about your more aspirational projects, the ones that exist in a perfect world. That might be ditching a legacy program that has always given you trouble, figuring out mobile access that’s both secure and easy to use, or solving for shadow IT.
No matter what your goals and challenges are, keep in mind these four below-the-surface areas of Managed Services, and you’ll be set up for success.
Posted by: Managed Services Senior Engineer Kyle Langford