A managed services contract will typically last three to five years so it is worth investing time when choosing your provider to ensure you get it right.
How can you build a Managed Services relationship that will truly replace in-house expertise, experience and business understanding whilst delivering continual assessment and deployment of new technology?
The answer is by entering into a partnership where both parties understand the aims and objectives, and where skills core to the business remain within the business.
When considering the selection of an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP), there are some key questions to consider that will assist you in making the right choice.
The first questions to ask focus on business fit:
- How important would we be to your business?
- Do you have other customers who look like us?
- Are we being forced into an operational regime, or is there flexibility to accommodate our specific requirements?
- How good is the balance of skill? Do those with high level technical skills also understand our business imperatives?
- Are those providing second and third level support able to keep up to date with the latest technological developments?
- How much time do employees spend with experts within key vendor partners, such as IBM, Microsoft and VMware, to gain access to innovative solutions?
Next, does the company have the relevant experience, expertise and accreditations to deliver the required service?
MSPs will invariably be able to provide a wider range of secure, reliable and scalable IT services, at a lower cost than most companies can provide using their own resources.
Critical mass in managing servers, communications, licenses, help desks and vendor support enable the MSP to reduce an organisation’s IT costs and then provide these services via an Opex based model.
The MSP will focus on the following critical infrastructure requirements:
- Security and availability
- System monitoring and reporting
- Data storage
- Disaster recovery
Once the key requirements have been understood and accommodated, how can the business attain technology innovation and evolution?
- Can the MSP support a hybrid environment of new cloud-based services, alongside critical legacy infrastructure solutions?
- Does the company offer a wide portfolio of Managed Services that can be selected independently to meet other business requirements?
- Does the MSP platform support a variety of software vendors, reducing the need to use multiple service providers?
- Can services, users or companies be added to the solution?
- Will upgrades be delivered and end-of-life scenarios managed without charging large premiums?
The IT infrastructure will continue to undergo significant change over the next few years. Organisations need to understand how best to manage:
- The pace of change of technology
- The impact of the Cloud, both public and private
- The shift from Capex to Opex and the opportunities for a service model
- Directors will care less about how IT is delivered but far more about the business value IT delivers
Most organisations will focus on their core capabilities in the prime business with other functions like IT being fulfilled through strategic partnerships. This will often include Independent Software Vendors, consultants and MSPs working together.
Asking the right questions of your new MSP partner is crucial to creating an effective, relevant IT infrastructure that will enable your organisation to deliver against your key business objectives.