Weighing in on the managed services debate

In addition to quantifiable ROI, managed services provide the right support from the right experts at the right time − an integral part of digital transformation.
Read time 5min 00sec

Managed services can often be used as an umbrella term for anything outsourced, but more frequently what is actually being discussed is IT managed services.

Gartner defines managed service providers (MSPs) as suppliers that deliver services − such as network, application, infrastructure and security − via ongoing and regular support and active administration on customers’ premises, in their MSP’s data centre (hosting), or in third-party data centres.

Other managed services options include content offerings, on-demand staff augmentation services and more – which help enterprises to go beyond the latest technology and make success more about their people.

While the outsourcing versus in-house debate continues to rage, the real questions C-suite execs should be asking is how to know if a managed services model is right for their company and what service level they need. Also, what effect will managed services have on digital transformation plans − and what about cloud? There are many issues to consider.

Businesses are turning to managed services models to help address those questions, control costs, increase efficiencies and improve business outcomes. Research shows it’s working: the International Data Corporation found that for every 100 users, managed IT services could save businesses over $375 000 annually thanks to reductions in unplanned downtime and IT infrastructure costs, and a jump in employee productivity.

Businesses are turning to managed services models to help control costs, increase efficiencies and improve business outcomes.

Successful managed services deployments, in addition to the significant cost savings detailed above, can increase operational efficiency by 45% to 65% – obviously a most attractive prospect for any business.

While the cost savings are significant, the research also noted a 42% increase in IT staff productivity, delivering higher quality IT services with significant improvements in annual downtime. These are impressive results.

Square pegs in round holes?

All businesses are unique in their structure, culture and approach to markets, and every company’s needs differ. When considering managed services, the best place for any company to start is by examining support options that align with the needs of the business.

Successful deployment of managed services will help reduce IT cost by 25% to 45%. Aside from those quantifiable returns on investments, managed services simply provide the right support from the right experts at the right time, an integral part of the latest digital transformation trends.

Without support of this calibre, many promising solutions falter and ultimately fail. It’s important to understand that managed services form an integral part of the latest digital transformation trends.

Accelerating digital evolution is not just about adopting the latest technology; it’s also about people. Companies need experts to support and advance cloud solutions, while they empower the team to focus on more strategic tasks beyond the day to day management of the business.

The unique combination of record-breaking digital adoption and a shallow pool of highly-skilled, new-technology-minded professionals makes managed services a game-changer for businesses of any size.

If the company doesn’t have the headcount, resources or the desire to fully realise the management of necessary new technologies, managed services can bridge that gap. It provides skilled teams with technology intelligence, strength of leadership and implementation expertise that can guide internal teams toward the powerful, long-term impact of well-vetted new technology.

Working smarter, not harder

Now that we’ve established that managed services can save companies money (important) and allow teams to focus on more strategic tasks (also important), let’s review some considerations of when and in what scenario managed services is best suited.

The managed services option is best for businesses that need:

  • A long-term, ongoing support model.
  • Shared application ownership with skilled experts.
  • Monthly, subscription-based billing, which facilitates easier budgeting through a fixed, predictable and regular schedule of service delivery model.

Perhaps it is determined that a full managed services approach isn’t right for the company after considering the items above. What else is possible?

A staff augmentation approach is best if businesses need a designated resource to help execute on a project that is guided by the in-house team within defined hours.

Additionally, this option suits companies that do not want shared application ownership with a vendor. In this scenario, experts join the in-house team for the length of time needed to meet the project requirements.

Technical account managers (TAMs) can be deployed for large, complex operations requiring dedicated, long-term technical-level support but where businesses do not want shared vendor application ownership.

This type of managed service offering can integrate into in-house teams and develop a deep understanding of the company’s needs to provide informed guidance. TAMs can assist in critical situations and escalations, ensuring timely resolution and high customer satisfaction.

Businesses also can have simpler needs in terms of assistance to get projects done on time and within budget. If there is a specific need with a defined scope and start and stop dates, a traditional services engagement is the best approach. Skilled project management experts can provide a single point of contact to help guide projects from initiation through to go-live and closure.

This brings me back to where I started in this article and that is to ask business owners to determine which managed services level is right for their organisations.

Between challenges ranging from hiring, retaining and upskilling in-house IT talent, to competing projects and priorities, there can be several obstacles standing in the way of capitalising on today’s digital transformation trends.

In my next article I will outline how to determine which level of managed service best suits companies’ needs and discuss its impact on digital transformation plans.

Monique Williams

Southern Africa regional sales manager for Hyland Software.

Monique Williams is the South Africa Country Manager for Hyland Software, where she is responsible for sales on Hyland's Content Services platform.

She has in excess of 20 years' experience in the information technology sector and holds an Honours Degree in Marketing Management and a Bachelor of Social Science in General Psychology, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, from the University of Cape Town.

Williams has worked for Hyland Software for over a decade and in that time, has been partner manager for UK and Scandinavia, and business development manager in South Africa. Her duties in her current role include generating revenue for Hyland Software by establishing and leading the execution of a plan to market, as well as managing existing and newly recruited partners in Southern Africa. Since being appointed to this role, she has increased sales revenue and has achieved year-on-year growth of a minimum of 30%.

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