The key to a successful Managed Services engagement is defining the desired outcomes your organization expects from partnering with an MSP, rather than focusing on specific tasks you want them to execute. The scope of work with your MSP should be focused on the results of the services they provide rather than on how and what they do to achieve those outcomes. Emphasizing outcomes makes monitoring the value of the Managed Services much easier for the Client.
For smaller organizations, defining outcomes can be easier as often there are no in-house IT personnel. As such, the expectation of the MSP will be that it is responsible for most if not everything. For medium to large organizations with in-house IT personnel, defining the scope of a Managed IT Services engagement involves determining which functions should go to the MSP so that the internal IT team can focus on strategic initiatives.
Whether your organization is small or large, a successful Managed Services engagement requires three key factors:
- Letting go of traditional roles and control
- A MSP that accepts responsibility for the delivery of outcomes
- Having the right person oversee the MSP
Often a client will insist on maintaining certain roles and responsibilities, either to save on costs or to retain control. This mindset is often counter-productive, duplicates work, and can ultimately result in additional costs. For example, a small organization may be insistent that a staff member (often a non-technical person) will handle account setups, mailbox management, or file permissions. This individual will most likely struggle to follow proper procedures to ensure correct configuration and standardization. In a larger organization, the internal IT staff may want to manage troubleshooting server/network issues, and only escalate to the MSP when they can’t resolve them. At that point, the MSP will have to troubleshoot the issue all over again from the start, delaying the resolution of the issue. Any time invested by internal staff prior to the issue being escalated is lost time.
At the same time, if your organization is relinquishing roles and responsibilities, and ultimately some level of control to the MSP, the provider must also be fully willing and able to be held accountable for those functions. Furthermore, the MSP must have clearly defined expected outcomes in their scope of work. For example, 99.99% uptime of systems or reliability of data backups may be included in the scope of a defined support SLA. These results must be quantifiable and tracked. The client may request that the MSP provide reports on such metrics on a quarterly basis.
Finally, Clients must oversee MSPs, and having the right staff member oversee the provider is essential to a successful engagement. In many instances a technical person is given the responsibility of overseeing the provider. Instead, the ideal person should be a non-technical business-operations staff member who can provide insight about the organization’s ecosystem, it’s goals or mission, and work as a partner with the MSP. The MSP is already an expert in technical matters, or at least they should be. They shouldn’t need a technician to manage them. The relationship between the MSP and the internal point of contact needs to be a joint partnership where the two work together collaboratively, with the MSP providing technical guidance, and the internal staffer providing business input. For example, the staff member will be able to evaluate the business impact of a given solution on an organization’s staff, customers, members and other stakeholders. An MSP will not be able to provide this analysis in most cases.
Written by: Payam Pourkhomami, President & CEO, OSIbeyond