As your business starts to grow and flourish, you’ll find that your technology needs are growing as well. You may need to invest in additional IT infrastructure, hire software developers, tech support personnel, and other support staff to manage data protection and cybersecurity. But that’s a lot of budgeting, planning, and potential hiring for projects that need to be put into motion relatively quickly. This is when growing businesses find that they need to explore the option of managed services. Helping you save time and money, this is a way to support and boost your existing IT staff and infrastructure, without investing too much in an overhead cost.
The right managed services partner will provide you with an efficient way to stay up-to-date with technology, have access to a wide range of skills and competencies, and receive a high quality of service, at a set cost. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership that will help your business grow to the next level.
What are Managed Services?
Simply put, managed services is the practice of outsourcing the responsibilities of certain daily operations of your specialized applications, processes, and functions to improve operations and manage expenses. In the software development and IT perspective, it’s as if you’ve gained the capabilities of an in-house IT department, staffed with a group of seasoned and expert professionals overnight. A managed service can:
- Provide more capability to your company’s end users.
- All your in-house IT teams to focus more on strategic IT programs.
- Free your team to focus on your business’ core competencies.
- Allows for flexibility and scalability in planning and development.
If you need to operate at peak efficiency, but don’t have the resources or time to hire, train, and manage a large on-site IT staff, managed services allows you to augment your existing workforce. A managed services provider will send you a dedicated team to take care of your network, servers, computers, development, cloud migration, and any other technology needs.
How to Assess if you Have a Need for Managed Services
There could be several specific reasons for why you’d need to outsource and augment your IT staff. It could be as benign and positive as a sudden growth and an immediate need to ramp up projects, Or you have a one-off project that needs additional support, and you need a solution that you can contract for a set amount of time, manage the load, and then go back to status quo.
On the other hand, it could also be that you had a drop in productivity and a decline in your current repository of knowledge, which has reduced the quality of your IT services. Perhaps you didn’t achieve what you wanted to accomplish last year due to a lack of service and support, had too much downtime and service outages, or you spent too much time and money on tweaking current processes and fixing mistakes. All of these are a drain on resources and can negatively impact your performance, your efficacy, your value to the company’s bottom line. Hence, a need to outsource.
Today’s IT managers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to meet operational and performance goals, while managing the security needs of your company. All while, they’re tasked with keeping costs down as much as possible. These are optimal conditions for exploring managed services to help you deploy new services into your IT department and help you with your strategic future goals.
While the models of managed services have evolved over time, there are seasoned providers that have perfectly developed teams with core competencies to help your business. These are perfect for companies that:
- Have staff that may not be experienced with a new technology or able to manage new services or applications.
- Don’t have sufficient staff numbers or time to formally deal with proper infrastructure maintenance, updates, and repairs.
- Have an IT infrastructure that is heavily ingrained into the continual function of your company’s business processes, and any downtime or lag time will be disastrous.
- Want to avoid the creeping costs of hourly contractors, and have one monthly flat fee for services, that provide a high level of service quality.
What to Look for in a Managed Services Partner
Finding a partner to handle your managed services needs to work for your unique business needs, and it’s definitely worth doing your research. There is no ‘one size fits all” answer to your IT needs, but there are some key components that should be non-negotiable.
You might not be on call 24/7, but your computer network is, and your customers might be. Hence, your IT provider needs to be accessible at all times. When deciding on a managed services provider, you need to make sure that there’s someone available to you all day, every day. Whether they’re working at all hours, or they’re nearshore, your business depends on a reliable partner.
2. Fast Response Times and Services
It’s more than just being always available – they also need to respond quickly to your needs and problems. There should be no call forwarding to a call center, no need to leave a voicemail and hope for the best. You should look for a guaranteed response time – every time.
3. Annual IT Budget Planning
Granted, your managed services partner isn’t a part of your core business, but they should be invested in your business. They’re not just a hired gun on a project that needs all hands – your success equals theirs as well. A good managed services provider should be available to sit down with you and help with future technology planning. They have the expertise, and can offer advice with yearly planning and can help with both technology and cost-efficiency. The right partner is forward-thinking and invested in you.
4. Support for Employees
If your employees spend more time fighting with technology, than they do using it, you’ve got a problem, and they’re not getting their jobs done. The right partner should be able to offer fast answers to technology queries, have the technical knowledge to solve problems and instruct your teams, and have remote access to resolve issues quickly.
5. Disaster Recovery Planning
No one wants to think the worst, but the worst can happen. The right managed services partner can help you with the fallout of a weather disaster, vandalism, outages, and cyber attacks. They’ll help you plan for the future, protect your data, and help you recover from disruption.
6. Backups, Data Protection and the Cloud
An effective managed services partner is one who knows how to ensure that your data stays safe and secure. Check that they have the correct security processes in place for your information and that they’re set for automatic and consistent backups, to a remote server for safety.
7. Local On-Site Support and Maintenance
While the key selling feature of a managed service is that you don’t have to invest in more workspaces, infrastructure, and other overhead costs, you do want a partner that can offer a physical presence when needed. A local provider can be a huge benefit to making sure you have the best service and onsite support when needed.
8. Potential Third-party Vendor Relationships
A key consideration to keep in mind is that an established managed services organization will have relationships and partnerships with technology vendors, which can save you the time of tracking down multiple vendors for service or support. When considering a provider, look who they’ve worked with and partner with, to ensure expertise in the tools and processes you use.
9. Security Testing and Monitoring
An exceptional provider will also help protect your networks from cyber attacks and hackers. Make sure that they take the right precautions and that their, and your, plan involves regular security testing and monitoring for attacks.
10. They’re Proactive With Maintenance
There’s some reluctance to admit it, but most companies that are growing and are busy, tend to only fix technical issues when things go wrong. That, however, leads to outages, downtime, and even a breach or two. A managed services partner will make sure that you’re proactive in your updates and improvements, to avoid problems in the future.
K2 is at Your Service
For most companies, IT is the engine that drives the business. Encompassing applications, processes, methodologies and unique skill sets, a competent IT department is critical and if there are any hiccups, it can be disastrous for the company. But, it doesn’t stop there. Businesses today need more than just generalist IT support – they need specialist technical experts and functional enterprise solutions consultants on their side. Thankfully, there is no need for a company to invest significant capital into building and maintaining an in-house team that can assist with software development, migrations, customization, and network security. Instead, you can outsource to a team of experts who can take care of this for you. By partnering with a managed services provider you’ll be able to find custom solutions to help address your complex technological needs.
K2 is such a provider. Having been at the forefront of technology and talent for over 20 years, with world-class solutions at our fingertips, we help businesses to innovate and grow. With a worldwide network of locations, we have a global reach, but local expertise to deliver first-class technology solutions and unparalleled industry knowledge to our clients.
Contact us today to take advantage of our expert managed services teams.