Modern businesses rely heavily on digital resources to carry out their day-to-day operations. This makes every business’s IT infrastructure an invaluable asset if the company is to operate at an optimum level. In this context, we are referring to the various pieces of data-centric hardware and software that make up your infrastructure, from servers and workstations to business software applications and network facilities.
There are generally two approaches to maintaining the health and performance of enterprise IT systems;
THE DIY APPROACH
This is the more traditional approach, in which organizations take charge of their own IT resources. From a financial and operational perspective, this strategy presents its own challenges.
Most organizations choose to outsource their IT management services to third-party contractors who assume the responsibility of ensuring optimum IT performance. Managed IT services lend their technological expertise to their clients, allowing the business leaders to remain focused on the core operations of the organization.
WORKING WITH A MANAGED SERVICE PROVIDER: WHAT TO EXPECT
The main goal of managed IT services is to relieve business executives the burden of taking care of their IT resources, both hardware and software, by providing an affordable and convenient solution. Depending on an in-house IT support team can be both expensive and unreliable, especially if your business relies heavily on the availability of digital services.
What you need is a team of professionals dedicated to that sole task of making sure that all your IT services are available on-demand. This is where managed service providers come in. But, before you start, you need to know what to expect when you work with a managed IT service provider. Here’s a quick guide to outsourcing your IT services.
“What you need is a team of professionals dedicated to that sole task of making sure that all your IT services are available on-demand.”
THE SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT
A service level agreement (SLA) is a legally binding document that outlines and describes the role and responsibilities of the managed service provider, as well as their interactions with your business. Think of it as a sort of contract defining the relationship between your organization and a managed IT partner.
Most managed IT service providers have a standard SLA that they use on every client, but some are open to amending their terms to suit unique IT needs and business models. Below is a list of some of the items included in an SLA document;
SCOPE OF SERVICE
The most important part of the document describes what you should expect from the service provider. It lists the specific services, products, and solutions that the third party should provide. Typically, most providers cover servicing and maintenance, hardware upgrades and software updates, managed security, and remote monitoring, often as separate service entities or in bundled packages. This part should also disclose how the MSP intends to deliver said services.
This section of the document establishes how involved or accessible the service provider will be to your business. The document should tell you the MSP’s up-time and schedule, when and how to contact the MSP, and the resources, effort, and time allocated to your organization.
PROTOCOLS AND PROBLEM MANAGEMENT
This defines the course of action and guidelines for solving various problems within the scope of service. For instance, you’ll have to agree on what happens in the event of a severe breakdown – how the business should react, and how the MSP should go about resolving the issue.
The items in this part of the document describe the level of performance expected from the managed service provider and the metrics to be used in measuring the MSP’s effort and output. Having agreed on the level of service, both parties can then establish performance expectations.
“The most important part of the document describes what you should expect from the service provider. It lists the specific services, products, and solutions that the third party should provide.”
TERMS OF SERVICE TERMINATION
Before partnering with a managed IT service provider, it is crucial to agree on the terms of service termination, should the partnership come to an end. Depending on the MSP’s involvement in your organization, terminating the service, especially after an extended period, may not be as easy as you might think. It helps to iron out the details from the very start; this protects both parties from liabilities, legal or otherwise.
Pricing is a critical consideration when working with an MSP. Small and medium-sized businesses spend as much as 10 percent of their annual income on IT. Companies often look to cut their IT operational costs by hiring managed services, so the pricing model of the MSP is a critical factor in justifying the ROI.
The cost will depend on many variables, such as the type of services provided, the size of the IT infrastructure, and the expected performance of the MSP. However, you may have some control over the pricing if the MSP allows you to tailor the service you receive.
Managed service providers are paid in monthly or annual subscriptions. Most MSPs provide little leeway to adjust prices mid-agreement, so make sure to handle price negotiations at the beginning. You should also learn how the MSP accommodates scalability, particularly in terms of costs.
IS A MANAGED IT PARTNER RIGHT FOR YOU?
The rapid growth of the managed IT market is evidence that more and more businesses are embracing the idea of outsourcing their IT services. The industry is expected to grow to $356 billion by 2025 from the current market size of about $200 billion worldwide.
Managed IT services are ideal for both small and large organizations that deal in one way or another with IT systems, either locally or in the cloud. Are you on the fence about hiring a managed service provider? Well, if your answer is yes to any of the below questions, you should definitely consider outsourcing your IT services to capable professionals.
- Is your growing business demanding more than your current IT infrastructure can deliver?
- Are you thinking about moving your enterprise to the cloud?
- Are you struggling in coming up with an IT management strategy?
- Do you want a manageable and predictable IT budget?
- Are you thinking of overhauling your IT infrastructure?
- Is your in-house IT team putting a strain on your organization?
- Are you looking for easy ways to meet legal and industrial IT standards?
Hopefully, we’ve enlightened you on how to go about hiring a managed IT service provider and what to expect when developing a meaningful partnership with an MSP. If you’d like to learn more about managed services, don’t hesitate to talk to us.