The simplest answer to the question of what your IT staff will do after you set up an arrangement with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) is: whatever you’d rather have them doing before you set up the arrangement. Managed Services is meant to serve as a solution to the problem of IT staffs having to spend all their time fixing things that have gone wrong—as opposed to spending it looking for ways to help improve the company by making more things go right.
If your IT people are working to remediate today’s crises, then they aren’t working on preventing tomorrow’s crises, and they probably aren’t working on innovations that would help you outperform your competitors. All the resources your IT people expend running in place ends up costing the company—not just because preventative maintenance falls by the wayside, but also because new opportunities are being perpetually passed over.
Managed Services and the As-a-Service Model
For many people, though, terms like Managed Services and IT outsourcing still conjure memories of dealing with support desk operators from far-off regions of the globe. Or they call to mind horror stories about IT departments laying off all but a few of their staff members to take advantage of cheaper service overseas.
The Managed Services of today is actually based on a model that’s less like outsourcing in manufacturing and a lot more like the types of as-a-service offerings you would get from cloud providers. The MSPs are usually in the U.S., and often in the same city (so no impenetrable accents). And the idea isn’t to hand over the entire IT department; it’s to take advantage of the improved security, standardization, and cost-effectiveness that come with commoditization and pooled resources. Think of it as IT-Operations-as-a-Service.
A recent survey by the trade group CompTIA found that 72% of businesses make no changes to their IT staffing after beginning a Managed Services partnership. So the primary decision driver isn’t any expected reduction in the number of people on the payroll. Instead, these businesses are following the advice of the independent tech researchers at Gartner by adopting “bimodal IT” strategies.
Bimodal IT: Balancing Operations and Innovations
Bimodal IT refers to the practice of separating the department into two teams, one concentrating on the business-critical functionality underpinning daily operations, and the other on researching, developing, testing, and implementing new systems. In industries like manufacturing, where daily operations depend so much on standardized and reliable tech services, it can be extremely difficult to work in any time for experiments with innovative technologies.
Since MSPs can handle standard operations tasks more efficiently anyway, many businesses outsource them. With the MSPs covering the operations mode, your business’s own IT people are free to tackle the innovation mode.
Managed Services can usually be tailored to suit a given business’s needs, but for the most part MSPs handle the types of IT tasks that are common across all businesses. If every business relied on outside partners for every aspect of its IT strategy, then it would be pretty hard to differentiate yourself from other businesses in your industry. Trying to outsource the parts of your business that make you unique and competitive would be a pretty terrible idea. That’s why your existing staff still has a crucial role alongside that of the MSP.
If you have an MSP monitoring your server and network performance, doing preventative maintenance, and maybe even covering user support and security, then your IT people won’t have to spend their time on tasks that bring the company little or no value. Instead, they can be on the lookout for those new opportunities to streamline processes, gain an edge over your competition, and generally improve the business.
Tech Consultants and Organizational Knowledge
Many MSPs will house experts in a variety of other technologies, like the cloud or custom application development. So they can often play an important role in helping you assess the health of your current systems and recommend areas to focus on improving. MSPs, in other words, will frequently serve as consults as your IT people work on innovations.
But ultimately there’s no substitute for the degree of familiarity that comes from working with a business’s systems every day—and with the business’s people. In-house experts will be more knowledgeable about, and more responsive to, the goals of the company’s leaders. This type of organizational knowledge and hands-on familiarity is indispensable as the company takes on complex projects to implement new technologies.
If you’re a startup and don’t even have any IT staff, Managed Services can probably play the part of an entire IT department. But, for most companies, working with an MSP is a both/and, not an either/or proposition. You can think of it like a racecar pit crew. In the old days, every driver had a mechanic in the passenger seat, and they’d frequently have to stop to make repairs on the side of the track. Now of course there’s an entire crew monitoring the car’s performance from a distance, minimizing the number of stops necessary. The pit crew doesn’t replace the driver, though; it just helps him (or her) concentrate on winning the race—so the owners can increase their profits.
Popular posts like this: