Managed Services is one of the current buzzwords in technology, yet there is a lot of confusion about what that exactly means and how it influences the way you treat technology in your organization. The good news is, if done right, it can turn IT from a chaotic, kind of scary and unpredictable monster, into what it truly should be: the perfect assistant that makes your life much easier and your organization more productive.
Before we get into how you can run a quick scan of your business to see if Managed Services is a good fit for you, let’s talk about what Managed Services mean and how they differentiate from the traditional way of purchasing and dealing with IT. The easiest explanation is, of course, outright purchase vs. monthly payment. Unfortunately, this often used description falls short and fails to point out the true value of a Managed Services approach: the ability to turn IT into a predictable and planned tool to increase profitability.
Oftentimes, IT is treated just like any other office equipment: You invest periodically and receive hard- and software in exchange that constitute your IT “assets”. And if one of the pieces does not work right, you have to invest more to get that one individual piece fixed. The problem is that this approach can quickly turn your IT assets into liabilities due to a lack of dedicated resources, planning and predictability. Here is where Managed Services come into play: Instead of buying a PC or a server, you invest into a comprehensive solution that not only provides the parts and pieces, but beyond that dedicated expert resources, support and maintenance, and above all predictability and stability.
Let’s take a closer look at some indicators for a good Managed Services fit:
- “I have people who kind of know my IT and take care of it; mostly my office manager and my sales people.” – In a small to medium business environment, it is difficult to provide dedicated staff and resources to take care of your IT. And even if you do, with the amount of various software products and hardware deployed throughout the organization it is next to impossible to stay current on everything, keep your people certified and have them juggle the day-to-day, as well as a strategic plan for your IT needs. A Managed Services agreement for some or all of your network can alleviate that burden from those individuals. Since support is included, certified technicians can take care of day-to-day troubleshooting, and industry experts can provide assistance in developing and implementing a long-term IT strategy that will benefit your organization in the long run.
- “We have too many different versions of software and hardware” – Consistency is one of the most crucial and most difficult things to attain in IT. Instead of an integrated system, your network becomes an assembly of sometimes random parts and pieces that were often purchased at various times and often upon immediate need. Each piece individually might work great (or at least it used to), but as you start adding more parts to the puzzle and retrofit the existing equipment to accommodate new technology you start running into more and more issues. You end up with three different versions of Office in your business or possibly even different operating systems. Imagine the time spent on keeping track of the various toners needed for five different printers. With a Managed Services agreement, you can bring stability to your network chaos and deploy the same systems across. Your trusted technology partner can help you develop policies and procedures and implement an upgrade strategy, as well provide proper disposal of old assets and on-going training on new systems.
- “I never know how much money I will have to spend on my IT this year” – Budgeting is probably one of the most overlooked, yet most important benefits of Managed Services. Most business owners are not aware of the realistic lifespan of their IT equipment and while squeezing the last drops of juice out of your server may give you an extra year or two, it also puts your business at risk and makes your financial planning highly volatile. Even if you do have a replacement plan, you never know when something might die and force you to invest thousands of unplanned dollars. With a Managed Services agreement you always know exactly what your IT will cost you. There is no need for large up-front capital; instead you have a steady and predictable investment that you know will keep you running. If something unexpectantly breaks, you’re covered, if equipment needs replaced, you’re covered, and you have the option to do a refresh on a regular basis to make sure you’re running current and consistent technology across your organization.
If you feel like any of the above points hit home for you, you should strongly consider taking a look at Managed Services. The key is to change your viewpoint on your network: the value lies not in the individual servers and software, it lies in a system that perfectly integrates and runs smoothly at all times, so you can focus on your business rather than taming that monster in the closet. Managed Services can provide that for you: a comprehensive solution for your whole network that is monitored, supported, maintained and strategically planned.
For questions, you can reach Olga at firstname.lastname@example.org.