Increasingly, enterprises are outsourcing their IT service spending to managed service providers (MSPs). In fact, the global managed services market is expected to reach over $193 billion by 2019, nearly double its 2014 level of roughly $107 billion, according to recent research from Markets and Markets (Managed Services Market by Managed Data Center, Managed Network, Managed Information, Managed Mobility, Managed Infrastructure, Managed Communications, Managed Security – Global Forecast to 2019).
Cost savings, flexibility and operational efficiencies are just some of the reasons IT is turning to MSPs. However, anytime you outsource critical business resources, you could be potentially putting your organization at risk.
Whether you're outsourcing all IT functions or just the management of a specific service or application, it is critical to pick the right provider. Here are some tips to help you manage the managed services experience, and mitigate that risk:
- Vet the technical team: An MSP should feel like an extension of your IT organization. Though you may be outsourcing to an MSP to offload the hassle of managing an internal team, the onus is still on you to make sure the people you’ll be working with have the right technical and people skills to ensure a positive working relationship.
- Consider the terms of the agreement: Like any professional services organization, MSPs are looking for recurring revenue. You can often strike a better deal if you settle on a long-term contract vs. a short-term engagement. In any event, you will want to make sure you understand the costs and parameters of the agreement.
- Manage costs: When you first start with an MSP, they will work closely with you to get to know your network so they can offer the right solution, and will also be looking for opportunities to offer you additional services. Get a clear and documented view of which costs are associated with your contracted service, and which services will cost an additional project or installation fee so you’ve got a realistic view of what you’ll be paying for. That way, you can avoid surprises later on.
- Lock in service and support: Like any service agreement, it is critical to establish a service-level agreement (SLA) – whether that’s a specific uptime guarantee or premium support. It is also critical to establish and document what level of proactive maintenance and consultancy you expect. Get clear on how service issues are communicated and what a minimal response time is. Make sure there is a methodology in place to ensure real-time communication with the MSP on project status updates, trouble tickets and reports on service levels.
The bottom line
The decision to work with an MSP is a big one. Make sure to do your homework on any potential providers and establish a solid foundation for a positive working relationship that puts you in the driver’s seat.
Cost savings, flexibility and operational efficiencies are just some of the reasons IT is turning to MSPs.
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