In today’s competitive market throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area, including as far out as Frederick, Maryland, IT is crucial for survival as much as it is crucial to be on top of the competitors. Not many businesses view their IT management as a competitive edge, but that’s what it is really. When you have the most advanced, reliable IT service, you have a head start on the competition. Outsourcing IT may be your solution to this advantage, but what constitutes IT managed services is sometimes an enigma for non-tech persons. Here, Intelice Solutions answers your questions to familiarize you with outsourcing IT solutions, and in doing so, provides you an understanding of why IT managed services can be part of your competitive edge in the D.C. metro area marketplace.
What Is Managed Services?
A company may have its own IT department or it may not have one at all. Managed services occur when a company employs a third party to either act as its IT department or to supplement an internal IT team. The term managed services, therefore, means a company contracts it network management functions — in part or in whole — to another company. Managed services could include any of the following functions but is not limited by these functions:
- Monitoring of network activity
- Reporting on network activity
- Establishing and controlling firewalls
- Maintaining virtual private networks (VPNs)
- Maintaining secure cloud services
- Providing mobile solutions
- Providing disaster recovery.
Most of these functions should be built and maintained with security in mind. Security is a managed services provider’s (MSP) key advantage to its client if done properly and meaningfully. The combination of these managed services can refer to the term IT outsourcing solutions because a third party manages your IT system and in doing so is supposed to provide solutions to any given company’s IT issues, concerns, needs, wants, problems, etc.
Who Uses Managed Services?
Just about any company can use managed services to its benefit. Large companies generally have the capacity to maintain its own IT department in full, but it may need the help of managed services when there are things like budget constraints limiting the internal IT department’s ability to perform fully. Small- and medium-sized businesses often do not have the capacity for a full IT department, and as such, are more likely to use managed services for all or part of its IT needs.
According to SearchITChannel, the bulk of small- and medium-sized businesses are using or have thought about using managed services:
- Thirty-nine percent (39%) of small to medium-sized businesses use managed services;
- Thirty-eight percent (38%) of the same have do not use but have considered using managed services.
- Twenty-three percent (23%) of small to medium-sized businesses do not use managed services.
Many clients of managed services providers are often nonprofit organizations, professional services, or construction companies. The nature of the business makes IT outsourcing an excellent solution. But again, just about any company can outsource and benefit greatly from managed services.
What’s Included in Managed Services?
Managed services provide a wide range of services, from a complete portfolio of services to a select few services, depending on your needs as a business. Most managed services providers will provide a full range of services, all of which are computer and internet-related.
The more common services needed by businesses and provided by managed services providers are those that have been above-listed but more specifically include:
- Website hosting
- Server hosting and management
- Helpdesk support either on-site or remotely by phone or internet
- Email services
- Security services, including protection from malware
- Hardware, software, and network installation and support
- Data processing and storage — including cloud services
- Data backup and recovery
- Disaster recovery.
You may first want to take inventory of your company’s IT needs and then research local managed services providers to ensure they offer what you require. A managed service provider offering consultations on IT outsourcing solutions can even help you take inventory of your IT needs and then align those needs with the full range of services it provides, making it that much easier and manageable for you to get the results you need in IT services.
Is Outsourcing IT Solutions Safe for My Business?
One of the main intentions of most quality, reliable managed service providers is security. Security is one of the biggest threats facing businesses in DC and Maryland today as well as throughout the United States, and an IT managed service provider can help you solve this problem via expertise, prevention, and proactive measures.
But safety is not solely related to security. Safety also refers to concerns your business may have about shifting important IT services — that can affect your business directly either to your benefit or detriment — to a third party, an outsider. So, as a company, you want to maintain some control over what happens because, in the end, you are ultimately responsible for what happens. This control is known as governance.
Governance is a practice to ensure that the relationship between the client and the managed services provider remains transparent, effective, and protected. Computerworld.com provides eight principles of good outsourcing governance that can guide your company to a successful end:
- “Balance stakeholder needs.” Balance by re-prioritizing — if necessary — internal and external group needs.
- “Pursue stakeholder involvement.” Keep stakeholders engaged and share information.
- “Seek cultural synergy.” Use the corporate cultures of your company and the managed services provider to work together to your benefit.
- “Drive out false agreement.” Make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.
- “Remember that the ‘customer’ is not always right.” Communicate to avoid misunderstandings.
- “Experience matters.” Get outside help — if needed — to make sure your relationship is an effective one.
- “Avoid the paradox of alignment.” Align your goals and objectives with the service provider’s actions.
- “SLAs aren’t enough.” Service-level agreements are important but not enough if not implementing the above-seven principles.
Basically what this list refers to is a strategy guided by policies to help you make sure that your outsourced IT services remain safe, secure, and private and that you know what’s happening at all times.
What Should I Pay for Managed Services?
The costs of managed services, or what you should pay, is dependent on your needs and the pricing model of the company you choose, but remember, just as it is competitive in the marketplace for your business, it is competitive in the marketplace for managed services providers, so the price is fairly competitive.
The main pricing arrangements are:
- Per-device pricing, i.e., the MSP charges a flat fee for each device;
- Per-user pricing, i.e., the MSP charges a flat fee for each user; or
- All-inclusive pricing, i.e., the MSP charges a flat fee for all services.
Managed services are most often provided by contract and payment is made on a monthly basis — sometimes akin to a subscription model. The service-level agreements will outline the price you pay for your services. It will vary according to what you need, the provider’s pricing range, and the results of combined negotiations.
How Do I Know if Managed Services is Right for Me?
If you are reading this, then you are probably in want of a solution to any of your IT problems. The latter is a good indicator that managed services is right for you, but to confirm the same, you need to know how it will benefit you.
Benefits of managed services depend on the MSP you retain, but common benefits include:
- Internal resources are freed up and are directed toward growth opportunities.
- A team of highly skilled experts is at your beck and call.
- A business with an IT budget will find that MSPs are overall less costly, aka cheaper.
- Cheaper and more efficient, effective IT operations mean higher returns on investment.
- IT outsourcing reduces costs due to reduced staff requirement, less overhead, among other things.
- IT outsourcing provides a predictable monthly IT support costs.
- Proactive approaches provide effective maintenance and help prevent and solve problems before they can disrupt business activities.
- IT operations are more efficient and reliable and will involve the use of the most advanced technology available on the market.
- IT operations are performed with enhanced security.
- Faster response times and freeing up the client’s time to stay focused on business.
These potential benefits are all intertwined to your benefit. You want to align these benefits with your current IT issues, problems, concerns, wants, or needs. If these benefits solve your IT matters and take steps toward achieving company goals, then managed services is right for you.
Do I Need Additional Services on Top of Managed Services?
Needing additional services on top of managed services depends on what those additional services refer to. If it refers to all things related to your computer systems and the internet, then if retain an MSP that provides a full and complete range of services, then you should not need any additional services.
But by additional services, if you mean things that could complement or enhance all things related to your computer system and the internet and your business, then you may need additional services on top of managed services. These additional services could be things like:
- IT consultations to help you better understand what your company needs and in what direction it should take;
- Products that for productivity, security, efficiency, etc.
- Outsourcing IT Solutions to many other technical matters your company may have that are also directly or indirectly associated with or impacted by your computer and internet system or services.
Where Can I Find an Outsourcing IT Solutions Managed Services Provider?
In the Washington, D.C. metro area, you can find a number of different MSPs. Though they may sound the same, however, they are not all alike. At Intelice Solutions, we offer a complete range of services, including complementary services and solutions that are designed to enhance and benefit your company. We provide individual packages that match your needs, wants, and company goals. To find us, all you need to do is contact us online or call us at (301) 664-6800. We are located in D.C., Frederick, Maryland, and Reston, Virginia. Solve your IT matters today with outsourcing IT solutions.