How to Get the Best from IT Managed Services Companies

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IT managed services companies are essentially value-add services, or at least they should be. Getting real value out of them, however, requires being willing and able to work together with them in an effective partnership. Here are some tips on making that happen.

Get the C-suite on board

This may seem like stating the obvious, but partnerships only succeed when there is commitment on both sides. From the client’s side, this commitment has to start with full buy-in from the C-suite. Failure to demonstrate this can result in a number of negative alternatives.

Firstly, the C-suite’s attitude can lead to people across the company deciding that if the C-suite doesn’t care, they have no reason to do so themselves. Secondly, anyone who does actually care is likely to become extremely frustrated and disheartened. Thirdly, it is almost certainly going to impact the IT managed services company’s ability to do its job effectively, which can have repercussions for the client’s efficiency (and productiveness).

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Incentivize people within the company to work with the IT managed services company

The general idea behind using IT managed services companies is that they complement your internal staff, they do not compete with them. This fact can, however, get “lost in translation” and without clear direction and guidance (and commitment from the top down), internal staff may decide that it’s in their best interests do give the IT managed services company as little support as possible. Alternatively, internal staff may genuinely not trust the new IT managed services partner and want to do jobs themselves to make sure that they are done properly.

In short, introducing an IT managed services company is a change and like all changes it needs to be managed properly to get the best result.

Prioritize getting the managed service working effectively

If you are working with one of the best IT managed services companies, then they will have worked together with you to undertake a thorough analysis of your needs, wants and resources before you move to their services. You will therefore have a good chance of hitting the ground running.

It may, however, take a little time for both sides to adapt to each other and really hit their stride. Part of this learning curve may involve making changes to systems, process the service contract and/or the people involved with making everything happen. For the most part, these will be minor changes, but even minor changes can make a noticeable difference.

Be prepared to take the time to get the service working at its best. Give yourself a chance to find out what your partner can deliver before you decide whether or not the arrangement is desirable over the long term.

Have a clear succession plan

On the one hand, it can be massively helpful to have certain, designated people “champion” the managed service partnership. This is particularly true in the early stages, but applies for as long as the partnership lasts. On the other hand, nobody stays at a company forever and sometimes people can leave with little to no notice (perhaps due to circumstances beyond their control). It is therefore strongly recommended to have a clear succession plan in place (even if the relevant people have no plans to leave).

As an absolute minimum, you will want a clear and effective overview of all the hard facts someone would need to know to take over the liaison role (something easier to read than the legal documentation). Ideally there should be a second person within the organization who shadows the main contact and can step in for them as necessary.

Keep an eye on costs

Cost optimization can have different implications for working with managed services IT companies than it can for working in the public cloud, it is, however, often very important to keeping everyone happy. While some companies will be on full-service deals, probably the majority will have a contract to cover services they know they’ll need, together with the option to add on extra services if they need/want them (and as budget allows).

This is usually a very sensible arrangement, but you’ll still need to keep an eye on who is spending what, where, when and, above all, why. In particular, you’ll want to see what money is being spent on genuinely extending the value of the managed IT service for the benefit of the client business, what money is being spent plugging holes in the original agreement which need to be addressed and what money is being spent because people aren’t bothering to pay attention to what they are spending and why.

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