The term “managed services” is often considered to be vague, and that’s certainly true. However, managed services involve a wide range of different things that relate to third-party information technology services. And investing in managed services could be an excellent choice for your particular business.
In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about managed services. This will include a proper definition, the types of managed services one can purchase, alternatives to managed services, and how to partner with the right managed service provider. Let’s start by breaking down exactly what managed services are.
What are Managed Services?
Managed services are basically the process of outsourcing a company’s need to maintain or manage something to a third-party company. Managed services come in many shapes and sizes (which we’ll break down in the next section) but they are most often used for IT services. The purpose of investing in managed services is to improve a company’s overall operations while reducing expenses at the same time.
Managed services offer subscription models and pricing options. Under these models, the customer company will be the owner of the company or system that is to be managed by the managed service provider. The MSP will be responsible for delivering the services on a regular agreed-upon basis. The MSP and the client company will have to adhere to the contract or agreement that is signed, binding the two companies together in terms of buying services and providing services. The contract will typically outline what can be expected in terms of pricing, reliability, performance, and quality of the services provided.
There are tons of benefits to this type of approach to maintaining a department in one’s company. To start, reputable MSPs are known to have lightning-fast response times. This is a godsend for businesses that need fast responses to emergencies.
Just as well, you’ll save a ton of money with an MSP. These services are less expensive than most of the alternatives to managed services you’ll find out there. In fact, outsourcing a single in-house IT staff member will cost you over $5,000. Managed services are less expensive and reduce overhead.
Risk is also reduced with managed services. You’ll go from having little in the way of security to having a whole team of professionals monitoring your specific network. If something happens, such as a cybersecurity attack or an in-house security issue, your vendor will be able to prevent a disaster by catching the issue early on.
Types of Managed Services
There are many different types of managed services out there. A vast majority of managed services are IT managed services. Understanding the different types of managed services out there will make it easier to narrow down your search and match your real-life needs with an MSP’s use cases.
A few common types of managed services include:
- Managed networks and infrastructure. This involves managing and maintaining all of a company’s network needs and tasks. LAN and different connections are established through this service, as well as storage implementation.
- Managed security. An MSSP will be responsible for implementing cybersecurity measures, software, practices, and monitoring.
- Managed support services. You’ll likely have the option to purchase an add-on for support services when drafting the contract with your MSP. This is simply additional access to IT support and troubleshooting, and it’s recommended if your business tends to run into a lot of advanced problems.
- Managed print services. If your data or file hierarchies are a mess, this type of service can help. We recommend investing in managed print services if you have very advanced or complex storage management needs.
- Managed cloud infrastructure. Moving your business to the cloud? This service involves migrating, managing, and protecting your business data via the cloud. Some MSPs will even offer virtualization services for things like whole operating systems or in-house applications.
- Managed software as a service or SaaS. MSPs by nature are subscription-based, and most of them will operate as SaaS. Through this type of MSP, you’ll pay a monthly fee to access a platform offered by the MSP, as well as the services they offer.
Alternatives to Managed Services
A common alternative to managed services is break/fix. This is a fee-for-service process for offering IT services to companies. Through this method, an IT provider will do tasks on a as-needed basis, thus only charging the customer company for the work that was done.
Break/fix services involve a ton of different services, such as computer repairs, software upgrades, system installations, component building, and network repairs. This is not the best solution in many cases, however, as break/fix services are often very expensive and come with little in the way of vendor support.
On-Demand Outsourcing services
Another common alternative to managed services is on-demand outsourcing. This process involves simply outsourcing services and processes to another company. This type of outsourcing is paid for by the total amount of transactions that take place during the service partnership. One is not just paying for software and vendors, but also specialized skills and quality customer service.
This might seem similar to managed services, but they are different. Managed services are paid for via a subscription and are continuously ongoing. On-demand outsourcing is typically sought out at different isolated times throughout the customer company’s growth. Thus, managed services are often a better idea, as you get better service and more consistency with an ongoing partnership. Managed services are often less expensive as well.
How to Partner with a Managed Services Provider
A managed services provider (MSP) is simply the company that offers managed services, software, and processes to businesses that need them. However, finding the right MSP can be a bit tricky without the right know-how.
Before you even begin researching different MSPs to partner with, it’s important to know exactly what a good MSP will offer in terms of services. An MSP with a limited service offering could be less reliable and useful than an MSP that offers tons of bells and whistles that suit different companies in different industries with different needs.
To start, any MSP worth their salt should offer:
- Technical support and on-premise installation of software and hardware.
- Completely remote monitoring services and troubleshooting on-demand.
- Basic security offerings. If you are in need of intensive cybersecurity services, you might have better luck with an MSSP, or managed security service provider.
- Thorough support for everything related to cloud computing.
- An up-time noted guarantee that is as close to 100% as possible. The best MSPs you’ll find will have a no-downtime guarantee of 99.9%.
An MSP worth investing in will also have the following qualities:
- Complete commitment to your specific project, needs, and goals.
- Adequate certification and licenses.
- Wonderful reputation. We recommend checking the Net Promoter Score of your prospective MSP before going further.
- An affordable pricing hierarchy that is agreeable and ideal for your budget and needs.
- Top-tier onboarding practices.
- Lots of flexibility and scalability.
Now that we know what managed services are and what to look for in a provider… Are they even worth it?
Are Managed Services the Right Choice?
To put it simply, managed services are an excellent idea for a company, no matter its size, growth rate, industry, or niche. However, managed services are especially a good choice for companies that need an IT department, such as a tech startup or medical facility.
Managed services help business owners focus on their company’s core competencies. Unless a business owner is a trained professional in the IT niche, then their core competency is absolutely not IT. If a company is investing a ton of in-house resources into IT, then they are not putting enough resources into the aspects of the company that make it competitive and valuable. Managed services is an excellent way to implement the IT services needed with fewer resources and less focus on that one aspect of the business.
Just as well, managed services make it easier to implement IT processes quickly and proficiently. When one invests in managed services, they are gaining access to a large team of experienced and trained professionals. These professionals have a larger pool of knowledge and experience than an in-house team would typically have. Just as well, a managed services team will typically have more knowledge about compliance issues that could fly over the heads of an in-house team. Managed services companies also typically have their thumb on the pulse of cybersecurity, so your business will be secure and protected. For business owners, creating an entire in-house team dedicated to data and server security is not a budget-friendly idea and may not even be sustainable without ongoing training.
Our final thought: Managed services are inexpensive, stable, reliable, and worth the investment.