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What Is Managed Services?

Managed Service has long been a buzzword in the IT Services Industry much like “Cloud” is today.

But what exactly is Managed Services?  What can investing in a managed services provider do for your business? Learning what Managed Services really means will help you understand if you are dealing with a REAL Managed Services provider or someone who is just using the phrase as a marketing tool.

What Is Managed Services?

Managed Services is “the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method to improve operations and cut expenses.  It is an alternative to the break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done.”

Sounds pretty straight forward, but it isn’t.

Being Proactive

See, every IT Services company says they are “proactive.”  Proactive is used more in the IT Industry that any other industry I can think of but, sadly, it is mostly used incorrectly.

Example: most IT Support companies define their “proactive services” as monitoring and alerting.  But if I get an alert when a server goes down, that isn’t proactive at all – this is purely reactive – I responding to an issue.  You can certainly say that monitoring and alerting gives better visibility and may speed response time but it is NOT proactive.

A real Managed Services Provider focuses more of their resources on PREVENTING problems than they do responding to problems.  And the proof in the pudding can be found in the metrics an IT company uses to measure the impact of their process in their customers environments.

If an IT Support company trots out their response time metrics with great fan fair; you know for certain you are NOT dealing with a Managed Services Provider.

Improving Operations

In addition to the measurable differences (spending more time, energy and resources on preventing issues) there is a tangible difference in the relationship between a true Managed Services Provider and their customers.

The relationship is more about business and less about the technology.

Having the right resources, with the proper experience and mindset, allow a true Managed Services Provider to see your business clearly – what makes it tick, understand what you are trying to accomplish and drive all strategy and guidance off of this foundation.

There is no way your IT company can be a “trusted advisor” unless they really understand your business AND would advise you against their own best interests, i.e. spending money with them.  Many, many problems we deal with have operational fixes versus technological fixes.  But to give this guidance required the MSP to be focused on improving your operations versus selling more stuff.

Cutting Costs

There is an understanding that technology for technology’s sake is a very bad thing – it robs the customer of capital they could use in other areas of their business and, more often than not, introduces increased complexity that then needs to be supported which increases your support costs – good for your IT guys and bad for you!

Most IT Support companies see their job as “getting a bigger share of a customer’s IT spend” by continuing to sell you more and more technology.

Plus, your largest costs in business isn’t the check your write to your IT vendor each month – it is undoubtedly your payroll.  The true costs of IT are the nagging little inefficiencies that plague most businesses – they technical problems that keep cropping up and that your people have learned to work around or worse yet, just put up with.

You know when you have a real Managed Services Provider when they are trying to talk you out of spending more money on technology until all other options have been exhausted.

Have more questions about Managed Service Providers in your area? Check out our Managed Services Guide for more information.

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