You've heard this nasty phrase. It's not meant to be nasty, it just describes the unfortunate reality of many workplaces. It tells you everything you need to know about expectations and what you're in for. "Do more with less." How many times have you been told this is the right way to allocate resources and keep your business's IT solutions running smoothly? We're guessing too many.
Fortunately, many organizations across industries are now recognizing how often they ask their IT teams to keep everything running and make strategic decisions — and how little time those teams have available to do both. The result of that realization? More companies are turning to managed IT services.
Writes Thor Olavsrud for CIO, "As late as last year CompTIA found that only 3-in-10 organizations had any of their IT in the hands of an MSP, says Carolyn April, senior director, Industry Analysis, at CompTIA. But more than two-thirds of companies surveyed for CompTIA's Fourth Annual Trends in Managed Services Study ... say they have used the services of an outside IT firm within the past 12 months."
So MSPs are a quickly emerging trend, but should you be considering making the switch from full in-house IT to the service side? Here's how you can tell if you're ready.
When Should I Make The Switch to Managed IT Services?
One major indicator of whether or not you're ready to make the switch is your personal experience. Do you do unreasonable amounts of reactive work, which won't allow you to focus on proactive efforts? Are you putting out fires or preventing them? If you find yourself spending far too much time on the reactive end of IT, it's likely time to start looking at MSPs.
At a basic level, though, without assessing personal experience, you might want to consider a simple computer-to-network-engineer ratio. Similarly, look at your tracked time (how much time you spent on service-related tickets). If it's more than 50 percent of your time, you're definitely ready to evaluate MSPs. You might even want to lower that threshold, depending on your position's goals and your company's strategic initiatives.
Another indication that you might need managed IT services involves the level of expertise currently on staff. If your security need is greater than the capability or bandwidth of your current resources, an MSP is a reasonable consideration. Imagine the level of security assessment and remediation your team needs to perform to maintain a high-functioning, secure network. Do you have the pentesters on staff to ensure you're not missing something? If not, that's a good indication you can begin assessing MSPs and their potential benefits to your organization.
Setting Budget Expectations
If there are, in fact, several aspects of your business which point to a need to assess MSPs, you'll want to assess budget. Most providers will bill you monthly, a set amount per user or device that requires management. Depending on the level of service, that price could vary. If you chose to put agents on every one of your machines and to get patches, endpoint security and alerts seamlessly, you might pay a slight premium. Or you might pay slightly more and opt for remote remediation, too.
However, you could also choose a limited solution. If you have a team running patches and not keeping up, you might just select patching services, and get one report monthly so you know you're meeting regulations. If your organization has 20 or 30 employees and you simply need someone managing tickets, your service provider could do just that.
So your budget will vary.
But it's probable that you'll end up paying much less for managed services than you would for the full-time employees that could enable you to become proactive.
Assessing The Benefits
Aside from the budget win, one major benefit of an MSP is the human element. If you have a team of two and one of the two is sick, you might run into issues. But a virtual IT team never takes a vacation or sick day.
Additionally, if your employees aren't working internally (in other words, if they're not employees, but service providers) they’re likely to be a lot more objective about the work they’re doing. That objectivity allows for a partnership that includes high quality, steady work on their end.
Finally, the IT skill set available to your organization is really determined by the people you hire — and sometimes you have just one team member. Choosing an IT managed services provider means you inherit the sum total of all the provider’s skills, which may cover a broader range.
Knowing if your business should make the switch to IT managed services is a matter of knowing your goals and limitations. If you want to be better equipped to focus on one part of your business or on greater strategic efforts, you'll want to do two things. First, recognize when there's a technological solution that might help your team function more efficiently — an endeavor that itself takes both research and time.
After that, it's time to get someone else involved. Ultimately, MSPs can help you do more with less — in a good way.
Originally published on 08/11/2016
Topic: IT Services & Support