Separating Fact from Fiction: 5 Managed Services Myths Debunked
The term “Managed Services” has become somewhat ubiquitous when describing services provided by an outside IT agency. To some, the term is akin to ‘Helpdesk.’ To others it means subscribing to Office365®. In fact, Managed Services means a provider will assume responsibility for providing a defined set of services to its clients. That is just one of many misconceptions I have seen in the IT industry.
Many IT workers and leaders alike, as well as senior management outside of IT, perceive that Managed Services is a more of a luxury than a need. However, when considering the ever-increasing complexity of IT environments, coupled with new challenges encompassing security, IoT, BYOD, ‘the Cloud’, and more, Managed Services is no longer just nice-to-have. It’s a mandate for IT organizations large and small.
Simply put, these myths are keeping technology teams from benefiting from the increased agility and strategic value managed services brings to an IT department. By debunking some of these myths with facts about Managed Services, your business should benefit by realizing IT’s untapped potential.
Myth #1. We already have infrastructure management tools. Why do I need Managed Services?
Network and application management tools are complex, and range from freeware (e.g. Nagios) with no support, to very costly (e.g. IBM Tivoli) and difficult to stand up and maintain. Many organizations invest in these tools, yet never realize the full return on investment because they lack the knowledge, time, and staff to correctly implement and maintain the tools.
The reality is that managing proactively rather than reactively is simply not feasible for many IT teams, no matter what monitoring technology is used. This can be due to cost, time, and/or the skills and effort required. Even managing the tool itself is a task many IT teams are ill-equipped to handle. Managed services can give your team the data it needs to operate proactively at a low cost, reducing the risk of costly business disruption, and creating more satisfied end-users.
Myth #2. My manufacturers’ warranties cover my needs.
It is true that many OEMs provide warranty services such as onsite replacement with SLAs as low as two hours (provided your budget is big enough to pay for such premium services). The problem? This is a reactive response to a failure. And regardless, the OEM cannot cover the business impact caused by the device being down in the first place, or the cost of the time required for staff to communicate with the manufacturer’s representative, facilitate returns and replacements, re-install, and integrate the new equipment with the IT environment. The effort required to manage a covered replacement distracts your team from higher-value activities.
Managed Services Providers (MSPs) can often detect imminent failures in equipment BEFORE it becomes a problem that impacts the business. By proactively monitoring and responding to alerts, MSPs can get the problem diagnosed early on and develop a workaround while the failure is being corrected.
Myth #3. I have time to manage the details.
As an IT leader, your time is extremely valuable. Every hour you spend on managing vendors or other tactical activities is time that could have been invested in increasing IT’s value to the business. The simple fact is, even in smaller environments, IT leaders do not have the time to do everything; nor do the IT staff.
Again, with the ever-increasing complexity of IT and the demands put on it by the business, time is a luxury many just cannot afford. I have spoken to many IT workers and leaders, and each one has cited long working hours, insufficient staff, and endless list of projects as reasons they burn out. It is unsurprising that IT has the third highest turnover rate of any profession. Constant staff turnover is an expensive and inefficient way to run a business, at best.
Myth #4. An MSP will replace my valuable employees.
In consideration of Myth #3, IT leaders should view MSPs as an extension of the IT team, not as a replacement. MSPs are experts at managing infrastructures and services. They are NOT experts in YOUR business. For that reason alone, replacing an IT staff with a MSP is a bad idea.
By augmenting your team with a competent MSP that can provide a solution customized to your business needs, you create an overall stronger IT team that can support the business not only now, but well into the future. Ideally, your team establishes the business goals and aligns them with IT initiatives, while the MSP optimizes the infrastructure and environment to execute on the goals.
Myth #5. I can hire the specialized expertise we need.
Sure, when budget allows, hiring highly trained, highly specialized staff may be an option. The problem with that strategy is two-fold:
First, IT specialists (such as a DBA or CCIE) are expensive. In fact, the more ‘initials’ they have after their name, the costlier they tend to be. And, given how specialized that person is, he or she will have a very limited role within your team.
Second, most highly skilled talent are often under-utilized due to their limited scope of work; this is true even in large, highly complex IT environments. Because of this, these folks tend to move around a lot, and are easily poached by other organizations; effectively increasing their cost even more as you are forced to spend time, resources, and money to recruit and re-train replacements more often.
With managed services, you gain access to expert staff without being the sole bearer of the high salary costs and the risks of rapid turnover. Effectually, MSPs can protect you against knowledge ‘walking out the door.’
For more information, check out Burwood Group’s free eBook: A Practical Guide for Selecting the Right Managed Services Path for Your Organization.