7 Key Questions to Ask when Considering Managed Services

There are no hard and fast answers when it comes to Managed Services. The range of service offerings is constantly evolving. Even with ICT infrastructure technologies which have been around for a while, their application and management take time to develop. As with any technology service provision, you will need to do some research rather than relying on standardised packages or fixed prices to get the best value and the right service for your organisation.

No two service providers offer the exact same product. Asking yourself these 7 questions will get you started in the right direction.

  1. What Are Managed Services? 

    A managed service provider (MSP) is a third-party contractor that delivers network-based services, applications and equipment to enterprises, residences or other service providers.In a sense the title says it all but it is important to understand what your expectations of managed services are and what a MSP can realistically do for your business.

  2. What Are the Alternatives? 

    The two main alternatives to Managed Services are bringing in permanent staff to do the management or outsourcing it to contractors. These have obvious upfront costs while the long term benefits vary. A third alternative is to push existing staff to take on the work which brings significant risks of loss of productivity and staff turnover. Augmenting staff in the form of additional training and new hires also tend to be expensive in the long term.

  3. How Much Should It Cost? 

    Each Business will vary in terms of the cost of Managed Services depending on the nature of the business. A good measure is to list the direct and indirect costs of carrying out the various tasks internally and comparing it to what the Managed Services Provider is offering.Be sure to consider the potential burden they are relieving you of and the differences between pricing models.

  4. How Much Control Should I Hand Over? 

    The important factor to consider is how much control the Managed Services Provider can accommodate. The amount you choose to hand over will be determined by your needs but evaluating the Provider is critical. Be sure to get comprehensive references and documentation on their infrastructure and have your IT department compare it to your own.

  5. How Do I Prove ROI? 

    There are a few factors to take into account in determining ROI. Total cost of ownership is probably the most important, followed by cost of implementation and cost of expansion.  And it’s important to also consider the cost of staying current with the latest technologies.

  6. When Should I Move to a Managed Services Provider? 

    Making this decision will ultimately come down to your experience and wisdom as a business leader but some of the signs that it might be time to move may include:- staff being unable to meet their work quotas - being unable to find appropriately skilled staff to deliver on more complex projects - your quality of service not being up to the standards you would expect - your team not spending enough time innovating on new projects which is holding back business development - realisation that managed services providers have already invested in automated systems and toolsets which would be too expensive for you to provide

  7. How do I choose a Managed Services Provider? 

    First, don’t accept a mediocre provider. If you have evaluated three providers under the criteria of the previous questions and they all seem average then keep looking for a fourth, fifth and a sixth. Find out what sorts of relationships the MSP has with third party suppliers. A partnership that spans years is a definite advantage when it comes to application and hardware optimisation.Second, evaluate the quality of the organisation as a whole – how do they innovate in their business? Can they provide Case Studies that demonstrate their abilities?Third, get a recommendation from another business owner. Don’t just go by the website’s testimonials - get out and talk directly to people who have dealt with the company.

As Oscar Wilde might have said in choosing a MSP “Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing”.

 

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