01 Feb Carefully Orchestrate Transition to Managed Services to Achieve Full Benefits
By Shailesh Patel, Chief Solutions Architect
Transitioning to managed services delivery for information technology demands a major shift in organizational mindset and culture away from managing day-to-day activities to focusing on business outcomes. The benefits of such an approach include lower, more predictable costs and improved end user satisfaction. Furthermore, by freeing up leaders to focus on strategy, organizations will be better able to chart a course towards IT modernization and digital transformation. In fact, according to a study by 451 Research, 50% of organizations surveyed consider managed service providers to be crucial for their digital transformation success.
While the benefits of managed services are clear, the transition journey can be challenging. Questions of security, transparency, control, and how to translate outcomes into service level agreements must be considered and answered through careful orchestration of the transition, which requires planning, preparation, and partnership with Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
This article is the first of a series and will focus on (1) what are managed services; (2) challenges in transitioning to managed services; and (3) a few broad strategies to help navigate landmines. Future articles will address:
- A recommended Managed Services Framework
- Selecting MSPs
- Tools and techniques
- Organizational change strategies to fully adopt managed services
What Are Managed Services?
A managed services delivery approach is when one organization delegates responsibility for some or all IT services to one or more external, expert-level organization – MSPs. These MSPs are contracted to ensure your environment, systems, and data are protected, monitored, and continuously updated. It often includes a defined set of daily management tasks of network and infrastructure control, security, and monitoring. IT services likely to be delivered via managed services can range from a simple to complex set of services, as follows:
- Device management – Ensure end users have the computers and mobile devices needed to do their jobs.
- Network and system monitoring – Remotely monitoring and optimizing performance of your network(s) and systems.
- Security monitoring, response, and management – Protect against cyberattacks via patching, maintenance, and security management.
- Backup and disaster recovery management – Ensure your organization’s data is backed up and able to recover from disaster situations.
- Auditing and compliance – Remove the stress of regulatory compliance and decrease risk related to managing sensitive and/or secure data.
- Emerging technologies – Monitor industry trends and provide methods of continually upgrading to the latest and greatest offerings.
Challenges With Managed Services
Transitioning to a managed services delivery model requires trusting a critical foundation of your organization – IT systems, data, and security – with another organization. Such a major change in IT services management and delivery should not be taken lightly and without planning. Identify resistance points within your organization and make plans to adopt MSP strategies. Some of the key challenges include:
- Growing expectations from millennial staff. Mobile devices, apps, and commercial services (i.e., Amazon, Netflix, Uber) have set a high bar on customer service. Functionality must be available when needed and services delivered on schedule. Expect to deliver IT services that match this commercial experience or risk workforce dissatisfaction.
- Integration of services from multiple MSPs. MSPs deliver what they sell and without a concerted strategy, their services may not integrate with on-premise systems and functions. Integrations are a key challenge faced by most MSPs during implementation. Adapting workloads with managed services while maintaining stable infrastructure requirements requires extensive training and collaboration between your organization and the MSPs. Look for offerings with a unified enterprise management solution that can handle multiple clients and automate other business functions like application discovery, remote monitoring, invoicing, backup, support, and ticketing, coupled with an MSP that provides a high degree of customization resources and seamless implementation capabilities.
- Knowledge gap. The need for specializations and technical expertise around specific services and technologies frequently means that MSPs cannot provide a broad range of capabilities. Be sure to map your environment to the provider’s areas of skill.
Broad Strategies for Success
The rigid structure of traditional systems integration approaches often limits the responsiveness organizations need to address new challenges. At the same time, completely changing an organization’s IT delivery strategy and methodology takes time and resources and cannot be done overnight. Some key strategies for getting started including:
- Earn trust, start small. Pick a service to implement (perhaps help desk or system patching) and put an end-to-end process in place from single point of order to delivery. Monitor these services using a configurable dashboard. Criterion has an MSP Services Checklist to help determine which IT services can be better managed in-house and which ones needs to be outsourced to an MSP. Then, measure customer satisfaction and build from successes.
- Focus on agile methods. Consistent with starting small, break down your full MSP strategy into meaningful chunks of work and implement using two- or four-week increments. We’ll investigate this process further in a future article.
- Focus on your organization and consider change management strategies. Some form of organizational communications, change management, and training is necessary for a successful transition to managed services. Treat your venture into managed services as you would any major organizational change. Consider John Kotter’s 8-Step Change Management Model which is designed to help successfully implement organizational.
Managed services implementation is a tremendous opportunity to re-invent your organization and focus on what is important. In this services delivery model, you manage the outcome and metrics, not the day-to-day activities. This is a major shift in mindset and culture, and it requires necessary planning, preparation, and partnership with MSPs. Managed services can be implemented for short- or long-term projects (e.g., implementation or enhancement of a new technology or major upgrade to a supported solution), as well as a specific technology area, such as Desktop-as-a-Service, cloud, or mobile management. In the next article, we’ll share information about a managed services framework that you can adopt to drive your success.