How to Get the Most From Managed Services (IT)

In the old days, IT was basically about moving from one project to the next. An in-house IT team or external provider would “deliver something” and that something would be consumed until it was finished and then a new product would be provided. In the days before the internet in general and the cloud in particular, this approach was really all that was available. Now, however, there is much more emphasis on reducing the need for large-scale (expensive and stressful) projects and much emphasis on the concept of managed services (IT).

The basics of managed services (IT)

Managed services (IT) is essentially what its name suggests. A managed services (IT) partner takes over some or all of the management of your IT infrastructure, leaving you free to get on with your core business and/or value-add IT activities.

In this sense, managed services (IT) is much the same as other forms of managed services. What makes managed services (IT) very different from most other forms of managed services is that it is not just a “set-and-forget” activity, quite the opposite in fact. Managed services (IT) generally needs to be viewed as a partnership in order to work successfully. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to get the most from managed services (IT).

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Choose your managed services (IT) partner with great care

Treat choosing a managed services (IT) partner as seriously as you would treat choosing a senior executive, because that’s the sort of level of importance they can have within your organization. Just as with the recruitment of individual human employees, remember to look at both “hard” and “soft” factors when you make your choice. In other words, find out about their corporate culture and attitude to customer service as these could both make a huge difference to the success of the partnership.

Make sure that you understand the contract before you sign it

While this last point might sound like stating the obvious, managed services (IT) contracts may work somewhat differently from what you’d expect and it’s important to educate yourself on their details and what they mean in practice. Here are some particular points to note.

There is often some degree of upfront expense in moving to a managed services (IT) provider

Obviously the degree of upfront expense will depend on your specific set-up, but the key point to note is that this will typically be billed separately rather than rolled into the monthly fees. In addition to the migration costs charged by your managed services (IT) partner, you may also need to upgrade your infrastructure and that will again by a capital expense you will need to cover.

The issue of contract lock-in can be a tricky one to navigate

Managed services (IT) companies frequently offer preferential terms to clients who sign up for longer-term contracts. If you’re sure that you’ll need your partner’s services over that period, then it can make very good sense to sign up for this. On the other hand, if you’re not, then you could find yourself wishing that you’d paid a bit extra for more flexibility.

In addition to this, if you do decide to sign for to a longer-term contract, then it’s highly advisable to check that you have a straightforward way to exit the contract if your partner’s performance is not what you hoped it would be.

Remember integration means both systems and humans

As a rule of thumb, the more you already work in the cloud, the easier it is likely to be to make the switch to using managed services (IT) and the more you use on-premises infrastructure, the more of a challenge it is likely to be.

It’s also worth noting that remote-management of on-premises equipment generally depends on a fast and reliable broadband connection. These days, that’s much less likely to be an issue, but if you do suffer from internet-access issues, even if only periodic ones, for example due to the weather, then you should really aim to resolve them before you make the move to managed services (IT).

For all the challenges of integrating systems, integrating humans can be even more difficult. In-house IT staff may see the move as a precursor to making them redundant, rather than as a means to free up their time so they can focus on more value-added tasks. Usually the key to managing this is to make it clear what future plans you have for them once they have more free time.

If you’re interested in learning more about managed services (IT), then please click here to contact Aperio IT.

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