Four steps to make managed IT work for your organization
Managed IT provides high levels of service, reliable delivery of outcomes, a great level of convenience and, often, lower costs. At least that’s the theory. It can also be the practice, but there are four key steps you need to take to make that happen.
You need to choose the right managed IT partner
Everything starts with choosing the right managed IT partner. Rather than go into great detail about how to do this, we’ll simply say that the process, in principle, is essentially the same as the process for choosing any other supplier, or, indeed, a job candidate.
In short, it starts with drawing up a comprehensive and accurate list of needs and wants, goes on to building a shortlist of serious, potential candidates and ends with a meeting to establish who, exactly, will be the best fit. The last stage is really, for the most part, about the human element and this will become very important as the relationship develops.
You need to get the right contract in place
It really is impossible to overstate the importance of having the right contract in place. A robust and effective managed IT contract will detail who does what (if necessary in what circumstances) in what timescales and for what price. It will also cover who reports what to whom, within what time-frame and by what channel(s).
When thinking about the contract, it’s also worth giving serious thought to the issue of commitment, specifically, how much of it you want to make. On the one hand, one of the potential benefits of switching to managed IT is its potential for flexibility and this can indeed be a massive benefit to some organizations, especially young and/or growing ones.
On the other hand, there are many other reasons for moving to managed IT and the potential for flexibility may rank very low on the priorities of more established SMBs which have a very good idea what their IT requirements are going to be over the duration of the contract and aren’t too concerned about the need to be able to support (massive) potential growth (or contraction).
In this situation, it may be worth looking at committing to a longer contract/higher volumes in order to make yourself a more valuable customer and hence worthy of the absolute best pricing and/or service you could possibly receive.
You need to have the right people managing the relationship
Ideally, there should be a dedicated account manager at the side of the managed IT partner, plus a named individual at the client’s side who will share the responsibility of making sure that everyone is on the same page and everything is running smoothly, both from the perspective of the client and the perspective of the managed IT partner.
This second point is extremely important, because a lot of the time, the managed IT partner will be dependent on the client to perform some actions on their behalf. This may not be anything “technical”, it may, for example, be something as “simple” as just telling the managed IT partner exactly what it is that they actually want.
While the “obvious” move may be to sit this role with the internal IT team, this is one instance where the obvious move may not be the best one. The reason for this is that in a “traditional” IT environment, managers generally have to have a combination of technical skills and people skills, which is why IT managers can be so horrendously difficult to recruit, let alone retain.
When you move to managed IT, the concept of “management” changes to being about managing the relationship rather than managing the product or service directly. In other words, while there is often still value in the person having some degree of technical knowledge, the role is much more about “people” skills (and organizational knowledge). This may mean that actually makes more sense to have someone from another part of the organization manage the relationship and tap into the knowledge of internal IT staff as, when and if required.
You need to give up control
The whole point of using managed IT services is that you have someone manage your IT for you. This may seem like stating the obvious but some companies (and some individuals within some companies) can find it extremely difficult just to “let it go” and leave the managed IT partner to get on with doing their job. While recognizing that there always needs to be some level of oversight, there also needs to be a sufficient degree of freedom for your managed IT partner to do the job for which you are paying them.
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