It feels like IT managed services have been around forever but there are still a few queries we hear more than others that shouldn’t be of concern to businesses considering an IT managed service. We have addressed the most common below.
1. We will fall out of the technology loop…
One of the concerns that we hear when we are discussing managed services with new businesses is the fear of falling out of the technology loop – losing touch with advancements, improvements, risks, and the latest technologies.
In reality, the only way this can become an issue is if the managed service provider doesn’t have a frequent communications schedule with the client.
Whether it is a monthly, or quarterly review, it is the perfect time to discuss the latest technologies in the market. An important part of this conversation is how technology can improve and add value to the business itself, beyond just keeping things running. The education piece is just as important as service delivery and should be included as part of the agreement.
2. Managed Services creates a more complicated IT footprint
There was a time when managing a technology footprint was excruciating – a system would be too slow so a new one would be purchased; an OS upgrade would be available, but older machines weren’t compatible; some users prefer Macs, some are satisfied with Windows. Throw in a heap of smart phones and tablets and without even trying, your technology suite is fragmented to a point where it is unmanageable. One concern we hear often is the fear that a managed service complicates IT even further. But this shouldn’t be the case.
An IT strategy should be part of a managed service and is a significant reason why managed services are so popular amongst enterprise businesses. Having a forecast and expenditure expectation is music to the ears of those approving budgets, and completely removes the grief coming from the internal team who are comparing one system to another and demanding an upgrade! It also allows a business to be proactive with their IT plans rather than being forced to respond in the face of an unexpected IT challenge.
Reactive IT is expensive IT. Like every other aspect of business, a strategy provides a forecast as to what is required, what it may cost and when it may be needed, and IT is no different. A good managed service should eliminate frantic upgrades, irregular expenses, and unpredictable IT projects.
3. Managed services are all very similar, can I not just use a cheap one?
Like every other industry, some providers provide a quality service, some do not. It is no different in IT. But here are some characteristics of a managed service you should dig deeper into before making a decision:
- Most providers will state that they are “proactive”. Proactivity when done properly essentially means circumventing any future problems, or at least, a scarcity of issues. The only way to achieve this is to understand how the present can impact the future and the actions required to insulate against these impacts. This takes experience and talent to get it right. Many providers will say they are proactive but what they mean is that they are fast to respond when something goes wrong. Preventing something from going wrong in the first place is the preferred scenario. Responding to an issue is reactive IT
- Most providers will reference 24/7 support but this should be clarified. If 24/7 support means that there is someone locally who will take a phone call and action an issue immediately, that’s a solid service. If they mean that you can send an email anytime you like, or call an offshore help desk that does not understand your environment, that’s not support so much as it is 24/7 reception.
- Most providers will have a “monitoring” inclusion in their service. Monitoring, by definition, is watching. But that is not so helpful if action is not taken at an appropriate time when required. A good managed service provider will use monitoring to drive their proactivity to make sure the client knows well in advance if storage, backups, or process limits are reaching capacity. They will also provide some options to the client for how to address this concern should the time arise.
- The biggest limitation with any IT service provider is their ability to provide an IT strategy to the client. The IT strategy provides the framework for setting budgets, fleet schedules (servicing or renewals), licensing, software upgrades, mobile management and so on 12 months at a time. The IT strategy removes the guesswork from IT in the sense that you know when upgrades are due and how much they are likely to cost.
4. More hands means a greater risk to data security
This is an unusual concern that we hear quite frequently. Unusual in the sense that at the core of a quality managed service is the priority of keeping data safe. This doesn’t just mean implementing security measures on the active server, but ensuring that networks are secure when backing up the data, and making sure the server(s) housing the backups are also secure. In other words, end-to-end security measures.
(When we say “secure” we are referring to the use of private networks and connections, enterprise-grade firewalls, data encryption, incremental backups, and best-of-breed security protocols around administrator accessibility and login credentials.)
Keeping the data secure is only part of the process. Additionally, ensuring that data is backed up on a reliable, consistent schedule either through a secure internal network or secure external network, and residing on a secure server (again, either internally or externally, or both) should be included in the process.
The reality is that a quality managed service should accentuate a company’s ability to keep data secure and should be the priority for any managed services provider.
5. Everything ends up in the cloud
This may potentially be true, but it depends on the client’s business and requirements. The idea of “the cloud” is to ensure that required data (or software) is available at all time on all devices anywhere in the world. The cloud is ultimately about accessibility.
However, if a business has some aversion to cloud services or has industry or legal restrictions attaining to cloud-based services, there are still multiple options available that do not require a typical cloud solution, be it onsite or via more traditional technology.
The “cloud” exists because it brings a lot of additional benefits to most businesses and users, but that is not to say that it is for every company or every user. There are still a multitude of businesses, big, small, and in-between that rely on traditional server technology either due to industry limitations or a preference to avoid mass cloud implementation.
Ultimately, stay engaged
As primitive as it may seem, the best way to stay on top of your managed service is to make sure you have a monthly meeting with your IT managed service provider. The meeting shouldn’t be them justifying their existence, but rather providing explanations and education on what is being done, why it is being done, who is involved, and what else is happening in the industry so that you have a clear understanding of the now, and of the next. Committing to a managed service and then letting it run indefinitely without check-ins or reviews is usually the basis for future issues and frankly, is irresponsible on behalf of the IT provider. Staying engaged is the most straightforward way of ensuring that your IT provider is delivering in line with your expectation and the requirements of your company.Back to Top