Previously the combination of a managed services provider and return on Investment are not something that normal small and medium business and not for profit organisation have been able to put together.
The “managed service” business and delivery model has matured over the last five years, this has allowed a better understanding in what an MSP can do for your organisation and the business benefits it can deliver. Although IT and IT support is seen as a cost centre, the correct application of processes, procedures, management, monitoring, help desk and support can truly benefit a business that is having it applied to it.
So what are the benefits of a managed services delivery model –
standardised costs – a managed services contract is a single cost that delivers value for money to both parties. The client understands that they have a monthly cost that includes all of their negotiated costs and capabilities. This supports the business and allows it to do what it needs to do to produce revenue and know that the technical support is in good hands. There should be no additional costs associated with normal business support in a month if done correctly.
internal and external delivery of support – a mature managed services provider will have their own level of processes and procedures within their business. This will add addition benefits to the clients business with a combination of both systems.
drive value within the organisation – By having better internal and external support the clients business will gain benefits in a more stable business IT system. This creates confidence within the organisation as well as allowing a more resilient business environment.
Deliver serious cost benefits to the organisations bottom line – if done correctly a business can gain significant cost reductions across the whole organisation. This can include a single monthly cost for budgeting purposes. It should also include support that will help all members of your staff when they have a problem with their IT.
Deliver effective business, organisation and technical benefits – one of the problems with some MSP delivery models is that the business pays for the service. The service is not defined correctly and the ambiguity of that definition causes problems between deliverables. What you do not need as a business is that Once the agreement is signed there is little or no interaction between you and the MSP.
There should be a constant dialog between both parties. changes in business requirements and direction should drive these discussions as well as changes in technology and business capabilities. Without this dialog there is a problem. The client needs to be informed with monthly management reports and needs to be able to see some level of commitment from the MSP. No client appreciates an monthly outbound cost that does not seem to deliver anything to the business. The MSP can be the best in the world but without some level of face to face interaction they will seem to be only in it for the money. In other words they have to be seen.
An MSP has to blend their technical support and include regular onsite visits with normal help desk requirements. Visits from both low level support staff to fix problems and be seen by the staff, business managers as well as high level business direction discussions with management. This benefits the business because it understands that all of these visits do not cost the client any additional money so the MSP cannot be accused of gouging the client just giving outstanding customer support – something we are all after.
Deriving value for money from managed services – value for money for an MSP implementation should not be hard to find. A monthly cost with no additions and great benefits is where the clients win. When additional costs start to crepe into the contract is where the client will notice a significant cost increase. This is not what an MSP should be delivering. If the costs are escalating for the delivery model then there is a good reason to revisit the service level agreement not gouge the client for services that they do not need.
As a final point an MSP needs to work with the client not dictate their requirements to the client. The number of times I have heard a client say that the outsourced provider was not willing to work with the in place system but required them to purchase systems, software and hardware that the MSP Is comfortable with is astounding. Here, I am not referring to upgrading and replacing obsolete and obsolescent equipment but equipment that the client recently purchased. To be told that they have to replace their $3000 firewall with another similar product is not only obscene but bad business practice, but we have seen it happen.
A business can regain significant ROI from a service level agreement with a managed services provider on the condition that you have the correct provider. If you are looking for a good MSP then talk to their clients and see if their philosophy fits your business culture. For each MSP there is a different philosophy, a different cost and a different ROI. So, test the waters before you commit to a monthly fee that will not support your business and direction and is only based on thenMSP’s direction.