FAQ For Managed IT Services:
What is Managed IT Service?
Managed Services (MS) is the practice of outsourcing day-to-day IT management and support responsibilities as a strategic method for improving your business operations.
MS is a proactive approach to handling your IT needs. MS can range from a small portion of a business’s IT needs such as managing the security / firewall to complete outsourcing of all IT to make sure your employees are efficient and not interrupted by IT problems. In short, an MS company takes responsibility for your IT services for a fixed fee.
How is Managed Service Different from “Standard” IT Service?
There are two basic areas of distinction:
The support approach of proactive vs. reactive: In a reactive model, many companies setup their systems, get them to a functional state and then leave them alone until a crisis occurs. They tend to avoid their IT technology until there is a major issue and business operations are impacted. Then, when there is a crisis, they call in help. The help then charges an hourly rate to work on the problem. A proactive approach is about consistently doing the things that help keep systems performing well. Routine maintenance, patches, updates and system work are performed to keep things in shape. Systems are monitored and when resources or problems start indicating a problem it is reported prior to a major event and service is dispatched to address the concern before it impedes the business.
Financial Alignment: In the reactive model, the MS vendor makes their money when you are in crisis. They are really incentivized when there is a problem. They feed when you bleed. If there were no problems they would go out of business. Their focus is on recovering from issues not avoiding them. In short, they gain when you are in pain.
Managed service is different because there should be a performance guarantee.That way the MSP loses money (just like you do) when there is a significant IT problem. MS focuses on avoidance of problems vs. recovery from problems.
What is the Cost of a Managed Service Agreement?
MS agreements have several different levels which are related to the scope of the agreement. A reputable MSP should be able to demonstrate an ROI (Return on Investment) for their services. With MS there can be a large cost savings, as some MSPs have raised their efficiency using best practices and standards to a level where they can provide the hardware and services for less than a company can hire an employee.
All things considered, you need to make sure an agreement provides value for your company. If you are knowledgeable about the average costs in your industry for IT technology, you should be able to make a good value assessment.
What Type of Term Agreement is Involved?
Some managed services are month-to-month, while others are multi-year commitments. It all depends on what is involved with the setup process and cost of service. Some will have a very high startup cost, and then a lower long-term cost. Others spread out the startup costs across a longer period to mitigate the overall monthly cost.
Why Should I Consider Managed Service?
Many businesses rely on IT technology, but technology support and networking is not their core business focus. In that case, you need to ask yourself if spending time away from your core business is really cost-effective.
You can go the “wait till it breaks” route, but you need to understand what lower performance and reliability is really costing your company in lost productivity and lost opportunity costs.
What are the Common MS Areas Where A Managed Service Approach Is Used?
Security provides a managed firewall, security policies, managed anti-virus/malware suite and core services to align with the MA Privacy law for all Massachusetts based businesses.
- Backup and Business Continuity
Instead of dealing with changing tapes, tracking backups, dealing with online backup targets, a business continuity service provides data backup along with a full business continuity plan.
- Infrastructure / Network Monitoring
Management and monitoring of internet, phone circuits, VPNs, switches, wireless access points and network room components such as servers, storage, network printers and key network devices.
Why IT Staff Management?
“But I already have internal IT, I already have a computer guy, now what?”
An MSP can act as an extension of your IT department. It can take care of routine IT tasks, to free up your staff to focus on the strategic IT initiatives that will improve your business.
An area that you may need help in is IT management. Some MSPs offer a managed service to oversee your IT staff. It’s difficult to hold someone accountable in areas that we do not understand. IT personnel tell management they are busy and they appear to be occupied, but deep down we have to question if they are doing their job in an efficient manner.
MSPs can handle the recruiting, interviewing, managing, training, proper planning and budgeting, and providing task management systems to hold your staff accountable to your business.
Who is a Good Candidate for Managed Services?
If you relate to 4 or more of these categories, you can benefit from a managed services approach:
- You just want it all to work!
- You did not choose your career to monkey with IT issues.
- You understand what it costs your company for you to not focus on your top priorities.
- You do not want to be in the IT business.
- You do not want to deal with IT.
- You are done trying to get techies to understand what you really need.
- You realize the hourly cost of downtime and business interruption is so much more than a technician’s hourly rate.
- You are finished with trying to manage depreciating assets.
- You are done with finding, hiring, and managing IT staff.
- You realize that like death and taxes, your business depends on IT technology and IT technology cannot be avoided.
- You never want to deal with Technology vendors blaming each other while you pay their bills.
- You realize that many support engineers are not incentivized to your problems while they make money from your have problems.
- You put up with IT support issues because you do not want the trouble of changing to another support provider.
Are all Managed Service Providers the Same?
As in all things, there are different levels of service and service providers. Some are new to the business whereas others have documented standards, best practices, and clearly defined service level agreements. Just because a company says they provide a managed service does not mean you will get what you expect.
You need to check references and understand what is fully covered and what is an additional charge.
What are the benefits of the traditional route?
You control the IT costs by virtue of your pain threshold. You only pay when the pain is unbearable.
You have no real financial commitment.
What are Benefits of a Managed Service?
- Focus on Business Activities
Time spent on your business vs. time spent on tech support adds to your bottom line.
- Reduced Stress
Dealing with non-expertise areas is stressful, which adds to the fact that problems in these areas may cost cost thousands of dollars.
- Controlled Cost
You can budget expenses and hold the MSP accountable to the results.
- Reliable Performance
The service level agreement should guarantee performance or you do not pay.
- Efficiency of Scale
MSPs have the experience and knowledge from supporting many networks. This experience cannot be gained by supporting one network.
- Increased Security
Managed Service vendors generally have resources that proactively manage and maintain business critical components such as firewalls, employee usage and virus/malware suites.
- Full Back-up and Business Continuity
You no longer have to remember to back-up media and tapes, MSPs provide automated systems that provide back-up and business continuity services to return your business to operational within minutes.
- IT Accountability
Have you ever wished you could have more control over your IT results? Without an MSP agreement, you are trading hourly IT help for money, and often you do not get what you desire. A MS level agreement is based upon a performance guarantee.
Signs that you might not be a good candidate for Managed Services?
- You are a do-it-yourself type and only want help when you cannot figure it out yourself.
- Why pay someone else if you can figure it out yourself?
- Your IT plan is kept runing until the wheels fall off. Then we will deal with it.
- You do not measure the performance of your business and employees.
- You are dependant or content creating “work-arounds” to problems.
- You do not care how your employees use business resources during business hours.
- You think “Those IT problems” are not too bad, we can just work harder.
- You believe a PC should last 5+ years.
- You enjoy spending free time learning how to fix computers.
- You really do not care if employee efficiency or morale can be improved.
- You depend on “non-professionals” to help you out with IT.
- You maintain that business productivity and performance are secondary to IT costs.
However, even if you do not choose Tampa Bay Technologies’ Manged Service, TBT can still help you to excel in many with other products and services your business needs:
- Hosted IP-PBX
- Unified Communications
- Data Cabling
- Server Collocation
- Cloud services.
- To learn more, just visit us at www.tbteks.com
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