What are some of the challenges to consider?
Two of the bad reasons are:
- You want to reduce costs (unless your current environment has been completely mismanaged). The days of seeing IT as a cost center are coming to an end. IT is a key business driver and asset for businesses and trying to starve it of resources will just hasten the demise of a business.
- You have a very complex IT environment and don’t know how to manage it (yet don’t want it to change). An outsource provider likely won’t do any better than you unless trust them enough to let them transition you to a more efficient and robust environment.
Now some good reasons to consider outsourcing:
- It isn’t your core business and it is distracting you from your core business. Why waste money and effort maintaining systems just for you? Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are experts in this field. They can leverage their training and expertise across dozens or hundreds of clients and not just yours.
- An MSP can see the forest and the trees. Business leaders tend to be risk and cost adverse and they often are too close to their environment to see the gaps, challenges, and problems before they emerge. They may not be aware of the trends and best practices in IT. They can see their immediate infrastructure (the tree beside them) but can’t appreciate that a technology road map can get them to a better place.
Some tips on picking a good MSP partner:
- Do you trust them? What are their references? What is their expertise? Does their business model and pricing model align with yours?
- What are your “Service Level” (SL) requirements? Can they meet them? Keep in mind that faster SL times come at a cost, but outages have a cost too. What is the crossover point between faster recovery times and ensuring a longer recovery time? Don’t ask for a system to be recovered in an hour if you only use it once a month.
- How is their billing structured? Many MSPs see additional work, projects, and system changes as a license to print money. You want an MSP that sees you as a partner and wants to be your partner. Sure services and goods cost money but the prices and increments, after hour calls, and other charges should be reasonable and justifiable. When they give you advice on new products, configurations or services to procure and install, their goal should be to improve your bottom line (strategic goals, productivity, efficiency, reliability, and cost) and not just theirs.
In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about Virtual Chief Information Officers (vCIOs) as another option to deal with these challenges.