Managed IT Services
What it is and why it matters
Managed IT services is a solution that is delivered by an IT service provider that combines flat-rate, unlimited IT support for a monthly fixed fee with the proactive monitoring of IT workstations and infrastructure.
Managed services is designed to be an all-you-can-eat model where both organisations are aligned so that they work together, where in the past, an IT provider might bill hourly and fix problems on an issue-by-issue basis. Now with managed services, the IT provider has a vested interest in aligning the organisation outcomes to provide a proactive service that minimises problems.
In simple terms, managed services puts the focus back on the IT firm. The more problems that your organisation has, the more time and resources the IT firm needs to designate. This results in less profit for the IT firm and causes it to take more proactive measures to reduce the amount of problems the organisation has. This inevitably aligns both organisations’ outcomes.
Why are Managed IT Services important?
- It aligns the outcomes of the organisation. An IT company is incentivised to do a very good job; they want to minimise problems for your organisation because they have KPIs directly linked to the efficiency of your IT.
- IT experts give you peace of mind. You’re not an IT expert. Managed service providers take care of your IT so you can focus on running your business.
- Proactive support. Managed services offer proactive support. So instead of your IT firm constantly fixing problems, they will actually try to identify problems before they happen, keeping your systems up and your problems down.
- Strategic IT planning. What IT systems do you need in 12 or 24 months’ time? Managed services help you think ahead and give you advice on what you need to be planning from an IT department. This links to proactive support and ensures that your IT infrastructure and software is upgraded and updated to minimise risks such as downtime, viruses and crashes.
- Complete outsourced IT. Managed services give you access to a complete IT department. You don’t just get day-to-day IT support; you also get an IT manager and a virtual CIO so you can think strategically about how IT fits into your organisation.
Challenges of Managed IT Services
Here are some challenges that you need to be aware of when looking to move to a managed services arrangement.
- Holding providers accountable. The reason you go with managed services is because you want to improve your operational efficiency and remove the amount of IT problems or roadblocks that affect your team. You need to hold providers accountable and make sure they are delivering these improvements. Most providers will offer effective reporting so you can see exactly how much work they are doing for you and how much improvement in efficiency and productivity they are providing.
- Getting strategic IT planning. As part of a managed service contract, you should be given some strategic IT planning. You might struggle to see the benefits of a managed services contract if you don’t get this component. Make sure that your IT firm is proactively planning for the next 12 or 24 months and that it has strategies in place to improve IT infrastructure and upgrade software.
- Finding a provider with a good track record. You need to check the track record of your provider before engaging in a contract. They should be able to demonstrate a track record on delivering proactive service and measurable outcomes. Check references before you commit, and ask what clients they have, and if they have experience dealing with companies similar to yours.
Four keys to successfully implementing Managed IT Services
There are a number of decisions that your organisation needs to make when moving to a managed services IT contract. Here are a few things to consider:
- Complete a total cost of IT to determine the real cost of IT for your organisation.
- Identify potential providers; request an audit of your current systems.
- Choose a managed services provider and complete on-boarding process with provider.
Complete a total cost of IT to determine the real cost of IT for your organisation.
The first step in moving to managed services is to perform a total cost of IT analysis.
This is a calculation of what you are currently paying for IT support, combined with accounting for the cost of lost productivity and downtime that you may be experiencing.
A simple way to quantify this is to look at the total cost of your staff salaries within the organisation; then factor in how much your inefficiency is costing the organisation every day. It might be as simple as 20 minutes every day due to inefficient systems, but those minutes add up quickly.
You should also calculate downtime. Are you down for three hours every month? How much is that worth to your organisation in respect to your team’s hourly wage?
Identify potential companies; request an audit of your current systems
Once you’ve completed the total cost of IT analysis, it’s time to shortlist some managed IT service providers. This process is generally about finding a company with which you feel comfortable working, and which has a track record of success and is familiar with your industry and the requirements that go along with it.
You should request an IT audit. This is generally pretty intrusive and will involve an IT professional giving your entire IT infrastructure, software and systems a full review. It can usually be done on site or remotely.
Choose a managed services provider and complete the on-boarding process.
When selecting a provider, make sure they meet your requirements. Often, if you are evaluating based purely on cost, you may not find the right partner. Remember that IT plays a significant role in your entire organisation now. It’s important to work with someone that has your best interests in mind and can provide a proactive service that delivers outcomes.
Will they be able to help you improve IT efficiency?
Will that increase productivity and minimise downtime?
These are the questions you need to be asking when evaluating providers.
The on-boarding process is the final step. This is about making security changes to ensure that the incumbent IT company no longer has access to your systems. There may be some remediation work that’s required to bring your site up to best practice level. Then ultimately, it's about collecting and consolidating documentation, checklists, network diagrams and whatnot to be able to effectively manage your IT environment.
This general process should take about 30 days in most instances, meaning your managed service contract would not take effect for at least 30 to 45 days from the time you sign.
ZM Managed IT Services Solutions
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We have experience helping organisations make the transition, and help them to see the benefits of increased efficiencies, improved productivity and minimised downtime.