What Does 'Managed Services' Mean in Practice?
Managed Services Topics
What managed services mean in practice can be approached by identifying gap needs, understanding the relationship between you and the managed services provider and planning out a phased approach when it’s time implement a solution.
3 Options for Filling Routine and Specialized IT Gaps
As demand for both solutions specialization and day-to-day maintenance swells, your company has three options:
- Expand IT headcount to meet all specialization and maintenance needs.
Staffing up for all needs has two significant downsides:
- It’s financially implausible since IT now touches every aspect of your business.
- It’s logistically impractical given that skills shortages plague IT.
- Managed Services
Maintaining the status quo has three big drawbacks:
- Bogs down your IT team (often in processes for which they aren’t trained).
- Harms your competitiveness as opportunities for better technology solutions are missed.
- Creates unacceptable risk in today’s cyberthreat-saturated business environment.
- Outsource core IT functions to an MSP that can deliver specialized expertise, solutions and maintenance that scale with your company as needed.
Partnering with an MSP is the only practical option for your business and IT teams.
A Partnership Between Your Business and Your MSP
MSPs operate under a customer-first paradigm that aligns with your success. This approach is often overlooked and misunderstood because of the paradox that exists in traditional IT engagements:
On one hand…
If you’re engaging with an IT service provider, that usually means something is broken, which may lead you to question why it isn’t being maintained adequately, so it doesn’t break.
This situation can lead to suspicion about why a piece of software or hardware randomly stopped working one day.
But on the other hand…
If you don’t interact with an IT service provider at all because everything is working, you may wonder if you’re getting what you pay for.
When everything is working properly, it may seem like you’re paying for too much coverage since there aren’t any problems, or you were provided too much support to inflate your monthly bill.
Your goals go hand in hand…
The adage, “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” is a perfect encapsulation of this service contradiction. But it doesn’t have to be this way if you work with an MSP.
Your MSP’s overarching goal is to provide your organization with a stable solution. If it breaks, the MSP must devote resources to fix it and your services suffer. Your pain is the MSP’s pain, so preventing service issues is essential.
This approach lends itself to a partnership more than a traditional customer vendor relationship. Ideally, while existing solutions are maintained, your primary interactions with your MSP are around planning for new projects. In other words, you should see that the MSP is helping you achieve your current goals while moving on to the next.
A Three-Phased Approach to IT Solutions Delivery
MSPs typically approach solutions delivery with a three-phased cycle that repeats itself for each solution (or solutions set).
- Consulting & Professional Services
In this phase, the customer is at Point A today and needs to be at Point B tomorrow via a one-time migration project. For example, the client needs to move from an email client like Gmail to the complete Microsoft 365 environment. The customer would rely on a Microsoft-certified partner like TPx to plan, coordinate and execute the migration. Anything that goes wrong is quickly addressed by the certified MSP.
- Managed Services
After the initial migration project, the goal becomes stable-state management of the new solution. Keeping with the Microsoft 365 example, the customer takes the keys to the admin portal and keeps the MSP on standby to help troubleshoot when a problem arises. Alternatively, the MSP manages the solution on an ongoing basis, freeing up the customer’s team to focus on high-value or proprietary objectives.
- Next Service Iteration
The MSP determines the customer’s next IT need and helps plan a budget, resources and timeline for execution. From here, Phase 1 begins again around the new solution.
This cyclical approach exists for practical reasons. Services from an MSP with a broad portfolio like TPx can’t be implemented all at once, even for an organization with the budget to afford it. Simultaneously deploying managed communications, networking and managed security services would be incredibly disruptive for any organization. So, your MSP needs to work with you to prioritize initiatives and plan a phased approach to meeting your IT needs over the long haul and within budget.
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