Four steps to getting the most from managed IT solutions
Traditional IT was largely about maintenance, now it is largely about management and, more specifically, it is about managing IT assets so that they genuinely fit the needs and wants of the core business, rather than just being a “necessary evil” with which the business has to deal.
Because of this, more and more businesses, especially SMBs, are switching to managed IT solutions so that they can simply tell a managed IT vendor what they want, pay a bill and have the managed IT partner take care of all the practicalities of making it work in reality.
This can work extremely well and offer all kinds of benefits, but in order for it to do so the client and the managed IT solutions provider have to work together in an effective partnership. With that in mind, here are four steps to getting the most from managed IT solutions.
Define both your current requirements and your future goals
You and your managed IT partner will need to stay on the same page over the course of your working relationship. This means that not only will they need to understand your current requirements but they will also need to understand where your company is heading and what it is going to mean for your IT systems (and hence for them).
In particular, if you have plans for growth, then you will need a managed IT partner who will support that growth. Thinking of this right from the start will save you the potential hassle of having to make a quick change to a new managed IT solutions partner purely because you’ve “outgrown” your first one.
Choose your managed IT solutions partner as carefully as you choose your internal staff
Your managed IT solutions partner is going to be performing a vital role on behalf of your organization and you need to be able to work with them effectively, which means that you need to take the recruitment of an IT solutions partner as seriously as you would take the recruitment of a senior member of staff, like a Chief Information Officer, because that’s the sort of level of importance your managed IT solutions partner could end up having in your organization.
Remember that relationships take effort on both sides
The basic idea behind using a managed IT solutions partner is that they take care of the technology while you take care of running your business. Sometimes they will take care of all of your IT systems, sometimes they will only take care of part of them while your in-house IT team deals with the rest. In either case, however, they are going to have a close working relationship with your organization, which means that you both need to put effort into making that relationship work.
From the client’s side, that means that there needs to be one, specific person with designated responsibility for managing the relationship with the managed IT solutions vendor and ensuring that your organization is providing them with everything they need to do their job effectively. For the sake of completeness, remember that good managed IT solutions vendors will have plenty of demand for their services and, quite bluntly, can usually afford to cut loose from “problem customers”.
To be a good client, support your managed IT solutions partner as they do the job for which you pay them, give them clear channels through which to communicate with you, respond when they need you and maintain a level of oversight of their actions, but be prepared to trust them and give them the freedom they need to do their job properly without micromanaging them and/or duplicating work by doing tasks they are designated to do. Likewise, do not expect them to drop everything to respond immediately, regardless of what the SLA says.
Have a clear back-up and disaster-recovery strategy both with and without your partner
Back-ups and disaster-recovery strategies are basically just twists on insurance. You create them in the hope that you won’t need to use them. If you’re working with a managed IT solutions partner, you should really have two sets of strategies in place, one working with them and one on your own and ideally both should be thoroughly tested.
If you’ve been rigorous in your selection, the chances of your managed IT solutions partner going out of business are very low and even if they do there should be a phased shut-down which will give you plenty of time to make other arrangements, however, nothing in life is ever guaranteed so it pays to be prepared.
Importance of Managed IT Services