Outsourcing IT is a question of trust. The efficiency gained from outsourcing needs to be balanced with excellent service levels, advice and tutorials where needed. Get it right and the financial benefit of outsourcing delivers a 3:1 ROI.
Get it wrong and the consequences can be disastrous. Potential cyber security threats, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) breaches means you must trust your IT outsource partner to keep your data safe and your reputation out of trouble.
Understanding what you have, what you need now and, in the future, and the ability to offer support and tutorials for staff are important considerations.
Your outsource IT provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) should help you to grow your business and enhance you reputation. Not just save you money. We share how you can trust your outsource IT provider to deliver financial benefits and internal efficacies in these 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Did you discuss what your customers need before what you have?
Of course, you did! But did you really? It is not unusual during initial conversations for clients to say, “right this is what we have, this is how we use it. So, what is your best price?”
There can be no doubt that outsourcing will become commoditised at some point in the future but that is not now, and that will not happen in coming few years.
A good outsource company should take the time to discuss what you need and not what you have because there are a lot of “moving parts” and those moving parts change very quickly.
A good outsource partner (or managed service provider) will take the time to understand your business, understand what customers expect from you and what the right technology stack is to meet both your needs and the customers expectations.
A good example would be day zero considerations such as what is your current security policy and vendor capabilities. Are these good enough, is there a better alternative and should this be deployed before or after migration?
Step 2. What do you need?
Does a good MSP offer everything, or do they only offer what you need and are they best at it?
MSP’s come in all shapes and sizes and offer a range of services, solutions and software.
Taking time to be clear what you need and discussing the options is crucial.
If you are not clear about what you need then your MSP needs to be able to have that conversation and make trusted recommendations.
Some considerations are
- Are you a mac or surface pro company?
- Are you an android or IoS company?
- Is your information on premise or in the cloud?
- Or is it a combination of all the above?
What services do your teams need both in office, at home and on the road?
- General IT support services (for fixing hardware and software issues when something goes wrong).
- Networking infrastructure setup and management.
- Managed communications, which means providing services like email, telephone networks, and so on.
- Cybersecurity, or security-as-a-service
- Auditing and compliance (for instance, ISO27001 compliance).
- Cloud computing setup and management.
Step 3: Growing with you and advising of ongoing cost savings
- Your MSP should be an extension of the management team. A regular review with your MSP should be organised. As part of your normal business planning your MSP should work with you. The review should include plans you have to grow your business, potentially reduce, outsource or relocate headcount.
- The MSP should be able to advise what the options are for you and how this will affect your costs and pricing of services. Another role the MSP should advise is what additional services or options that are open to you from the wider market to help you manage your costs. Not just to try and upsell you more services.
- Your trusted MSP partner will also provide a detailed disaster recover plan and help you test it.
- Keep you abreast of regulatory constraints and opportunities.
- Provide insight in to employee behaviours and any actions that may put your business or reputation at risk.
Step 4: Are the financial benefits there?
An MSP should pay back 3:1 in the first 12 months. If it doesn’t what other reasons are there for using one? MSP’s are great way of shifting capital costs to operational costs. They can be scaled easily and should offer a broader range of knowledge than your internal teams can deliver.
MSP’s are great option if you have
- A large team with questionable productivity or capability?
- Require 24/7/365 responsiveness without
- Increasing your infrastructure without increasing fixed overhead
- Have extra visibility, data analysis and real time reporting.
Consider the costs of you taking accountability for providing your services to your staff on an ongoing basis including planning and executing a business’s backup needs on an ongoing basis. Compared to an MSP cost that will cover this and offer enhancement to you including
- Backing up files, imaging devices and restoring data when needed.
- Security-as-a-Service fully managing and monitoring your cybersecurity needs.
- Making recommendations on storage limits and forecasting costs for budgeting.
MSP’s should provide a range of services to meet your needs and these may include some or all the following.
Contracts and SLAs
Understanding how contracts work is an important when working with an MSP business. So is the concept of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Ensure you are clear about your contractual requirements which must include
- minimum levels of service (such as computer uptime guarantees, or data recovery timelines)
- Cost to benefit ratio: Find the right middle ground between a guaranteed high level of service compared to actual needs and the right cost for your business.
- Termination and renewals: Specify when your managed service renews and under what circumstances it can be terminated. So that both the MSP and you know what to expect regarding service renewal and termination terms.
Step 5. Do I want to be outstanding at what I do?
If you want to be outstanding at what you do, then you should not be trying to be outstanding at everything else. Focus on yur business, not your IT, let an MSP do that.
Today, virtually every company requires IT services, no matter which type of work it does, and MSPs help fill that need.
Your MSP should be an extension of your brand and your company values and deliver a level of experience and expertise that should be difficult to develop in house, especially as more specialised skills continue to be in demand.
Other benefits include…
- Delivering cutting-edge cybersecurity expertise (since cybersecurity experts are hard to find and command premium salaries)
- MSPs provide scalability options for adding extra IT resources incrementally or temporarily, depending on a company’s needs.
- Companies based in high-cost areas can work remotely with MSPs who are in lower-cost regions, and therefore offer lower prices.
- Companies based in regions without many qualified IT workers can work with MSPs remotely to meet their IT needs despite local workforce limitations.
- An MSP can replace a company’s IT department entirely or provide a single niche service.
Managed Services Alternatives
The MSP model is not the only one that companies can use to manage their IT needs. The two other common approaches include:
- Break-fix: The break fix model involves paying for IT services only when they are specifically needed (such as when a server fails, or new workstations have to be set up). The break-fix approach may cost less upfront because you pay only when you need individual services. In the long run, break-fix is likely to cost more, due to repeated service calls for the same issues. This is often coupled with a lack of expertise in day-to-day IT management that companies suffer when they don’t have an MSP to help manage their IT needs.
- In-house IT: Companies can also form and run their own IT departments. In-house IT teams offer total dedication to the companies they work for and will respond faster when crises arise because they have only one company to support. However, internal IT teams take time to hire, may not be able to provide all the skill sets that companies require, and generally cost more money.
There are many aspects to the work that MSPs do. Although at a basic level, MSPs can be defined as IT experts who provided outsourced IT solutions via a managed services model, there is a broad range of services that MSPs can offer, and a wide array of companies that they can serve. There is also great diversity in the tools and methodologies that MSPs use to run their businesses.
MSPs should be an extension of your management team to support you in budgeting, planning and forecasting as well as advising on regulatory and compliance issues that may affect the business.
MSP is only one model you can adopt including hiring your own teams or using different contractors on a break-fix model.
There is no hard and fast rule to when you should or should not work with an MSP but if you are looking to reduce costs, improve services and have a trusted partner to support you without the overhead then an MSP could be the ideal solution for you.
If you have any questions or are looking for some advice on the best way to manage your IT needs then please feel free to contact us