As companies look to recover from the impact of stay-at-home orders and the COVID-19 pandemic, many are turning to managed services to accelerate that recovery.
Businesses have come to realize the importance of a secure supply chain and flexible on-demand resources. While our focus is on the health and safety of our family, customers and employees, companies also need to focus on productivity and delivering results for our customers. It is difficult, if not impossible, to deliver results with supply chain disruption and employees struggling to meet increasing demands in already difficult situations.
That’s where a resource like managed services can help. Managed services can provide flexible, scalable resources when needed. They can provide support so employees can focus on more important tasks while reducing overall expenses even in difficult times.
Unfortunately, many businesses still don’t understand how managed services work. They continue to struggle, unwilling or unable to see the solution before them. In this guide, we’ll review how you can evaluate your business for managed services.
Making Sense of Managed Services
When you partner with a Managed Services Provider (MSP), you aren’t buying a service, but a business outcome.
For example, with an IT Managed Service contract you aren’t hiring an IT team or purchasing hours of on-demand service but ensuring uptime and security for your technology systems. The MSP may charge you an hourly rate, but the result of that rate isn’t service, but uptime for your IT systems.
The provider will evaluate the status of your system and work proactively to ensure maximum uptime. This may include updated software and replacement of damaged hardware. You’re not only receiving necessary service, but also the provider’s expertise. In addition, with a provider you’ll have access to data. Use that data to identify opportunities for improvement and reduced costs
Similarly, if you partner with an MSP to provide critical supplies for the business, you aren’t just purchasing the supplies, but a business outcome – on demand supplies that keep your business operating at maximum efficiency. You’re purchasing the expertise in sourcing to ensure you have the highest quality supplies at the lowest possible price. You have redundant suppliers, industry expertise on-hand, and a resource who can optimize and improve processes.
With modern managed services, you have added benefits for a significantly lower cost than the “fix-it” model many companies use when purchasing services.
Managed Services versus the Fix-It Model
Some companies will hire specialty services on an as-needed basis. If a system breaks, they pay someone to fix it. If a need comes up, they pay for the service – no more no less. This is the “Fix-It” model many businesses continue to rely on.
While your MSP will fix something when it is broken, they look beyond the immediate problem to identify the preventative work and maintenance that will prevent future problems. Their goal isn’t just fixing problems – success is defined by eliminating problems before they happen so your business operates at maximum efficiency.
Consider this – the company offering fix-it services get paid more when there is a problem. Your disaster and work stoppage means big profits for them. The goal of an MSP is helping you do more work – your uptime. The goal of the provider is to prevent problems, to keep your systems and processes working as promised. Your success is their success, and your disaster is their disaster.
A Managed Services Checklist for Business
Not every business is the right fit for managed services, and not every manager will appreciate the partnership involved in bringing on a Managed Service Provider. However, for many businesses managed services can be a tremendous advantage.
Analyze your Business for Managed Services
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine the fit of your business for managed services.
- Where are the pain points in your business processes?
If your company is always operating at maximum efficiency, great. But if there are problems, then managed services may offer a solution.
Are there challenges in your business processes that keep cropping up? For example, maybe there is a graphic designer bottleneck in your marketing campaigns. You don’t have the budget to hire more designers, so projects screech to a halt in the graphics department. Maybe it’s an outdated CRM or ERP – a system so difficult to use and isn’t providing the data you and your managers need.
Managed services can provide a targeted solution to these pain points by providing a resource that fills a gap for your company. The MSP has the expertise on-hand to solve the problem. Keep your business moving forward with minimal initial investment and low overhead.
- Are your expenses higher than budgeted or expected?
Many companies struggle to identify what their overall costs really are. Projects that seem to be under budget are really bleeding money. Expenses are often poorly categorized or have been dumped into a bucket with unrelated expenses lumped together – leading to a hidden problem and lower overall business profits.
Skyrocketing costs for critical supplies are also a frequent cause of bloated budgets. Over time, costs will grow while the company isn’t paying attention. Suddenly what was a profitable venture is now an expense due to higher outside costs. Other times, the company will conduct due diligence on freelance resources or a new software system, but they won’t flinch when they overpay on critical shipping labels or paper forms.
Managed service can help businesses manage expenses, especially for critical resources. The provider will stay on top of costs and do the market research you need. Most times, you’ll have higher quality supplies, or more experienced outside resources, and pay a significantly lower cost.
In addition, the MSP can provide budget and costs report so you can get a real picture of expenses. You can better assess the profit and loss of a project and provide more accurate estimates. The provider can also offer you protection from expenses by working as an advocate for your business in the market.
- Is your business regularly underperforming?
Many businesses, especially enterprise businesses, mistakenly believe inefficiency and project overruns are the cost of doing business. Underperformance is still performance in the eyes of the team leader – getting the job done is the highest priority. Either that, or the company doesn’t have the data to properly assess project results. Problems are repeated because no one knows any better.
Many companies utilize the MSP as a solution to underperformance or discover that with managed services the business sees overall performance improvement. An MSP will conduct a thorough process review before starting work. From this review, they can identify areas of underperformance and opportunities for improvement. The MSP will set goals and utilize metrics to track progress, and with higher efficiency, the company sees overall increased productivity.
- Are you constantly struggling to find the time and resources to complete work?
Many employees complain there isn’t enough time in the day. There is a backlog of work waiting every morning, and rather than working efficiently, the employee is scrambling to stay one step ahead of disaster.
Often, this is caused by the employee having to do work in multiple roles. Core priorities are put on hold for work that can be better completed by an MSP. For example, managers waste time with ordering and reordering critical supplies or tracking inventory. A highly paid specialist is wasted in stocking supplies or working as a help desk resource for co-workers. This is wasteful and hammers company productivity.
With an MSP in place, the company has better work coverage. Employees can focus on core priorities and more valuable work, with the provider taking that extra responsibility off the employee.
- Do you have the information you need to make data-driven decisions to improve future performance?
Companies are so focused on immediate needs – the next project or the current emergency – that they aren’t improving performance or preparing for the future. The business is constantly reacting, rather than proactively improving performance or increasing customer value. Company leaders can’t identify opportunities or plan for improvement because they don’t have the information they need. They aren’t seeing the big picture of their business.
When the company starts collecting and using information, business leaders can make better, data-driven decisions. You can set benchmarks for activities, then identify where problems exist in processes so solutions can be implemented. Rather than stagnating, the business is growing.
Managed service providers utilize data to improve performance and manage work. With a provider in place, the company has the information and actionable insights to improve performance.
- Is it difficult to complete business or department goals?
Goals are a problem for many businesses. At the beginning of the year, the company will set aggressive goals, only to see them forgotten by the next quarter.
For employees on the front line of the business, goals don’t have the same urgency as day-to-day tasks. That’s where an MSP can help – by supplying the resources the business needs to handle the day-to-day work or providing the boost necessary to meet goals. Employees have more time to focus on bigger projects. Goals that seemed impossible before can be solved by the resources provided by the MSP.
Companies need to realize that business growth can only be achieved by reaching goals, and managed services can help.
Implementing Managed Services for your Business
Getting started with managed services is much easier than many realize.
Start by identifying an area of your business where a provider can help. Common areas that companies will engage with an MSP include:
- Information technology and technical resources.
- Critical supplies and purchasing.
- Marketing execution support and communication support.
- Sales enablement and support.
- Event management.
Once you’ve identified a business challenge to address with managed services, reach out to a provider to conduct an assessment. They will look at the current state of your business and processes, and then assess how a potential solution might work.
When you’re ready, work with the provider to set goals and guidelines for the managed service program. For example, look at cost saving goals, or define what programs you’d like to see implemented through the program.
If you’d like to learn more, or want to see how an MSP can help you and your business, then contact GO2 Partners today and set up a no-obligation meeting with one of our Managed Services account managers. They can review our programs and give you a better idea of how the solution might look for your business.