Managed Services Overview

Understanding Managed Services

A better approach to information technology support explained.

Proven Results

Streamline your technology to reduce complexity and avoid risk.

Managed Services Benefits

Common Misconceptions

Top 10 managed services widely held but false beliefs or ideas.

Managed Services Myths

Managed Services Definition

Managed services is the practice of transferring day-to-day related management responsibility of information technology, as a strategic method for improved effective and efficient operations. The organization who owns the system being managed is referred to as the client or customer. The organization that accepts and provides the managed service is regarded as the Managed Service Provider (MSP).

According to the terms of a Service Level Agreement (SLA), a MSP manages hosted servers and applications, as well as the network equipment and applications on the customer premises. Most managed services are provided via remote tools, meaning that the MSP provides services to company employees over the Internet.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), managed services provide enterprise-class capabilities for a flat and predictable monthly fee. Companies that outsource:

  • Escape large capital investment for system management
  • Leverage guaranteed network support and availability
  • Implement cybersecurity for customer protection and business continuity
  • Enable internal IT staff to focus on strategic activities instead of network support
  • Pay additionally only for those projects they need

Outsourcing system management to a MSP is more than a technology solution. By reducing costs and freeing up the IT staff to focus on core business, managed services can play an important role in the business strategy of a company.

Standard Features

  • System Planning
  • Technology Forecasting
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Project Implementation
  • Help Desk Management
  • Online Backup & Storage
  • Firewall Management
  • Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
  • System Monitoring & Updates
  • Cloud/Application Management
  • Network Security Scanning
  • User Management
  • Device Management
  • Software & Hardware Support
Managed Services Approach

Managed Services Benefits

Common customer challenges are escaping the high cost and reactive response of hourly support, gaining expert business insght and project implementation for less than hiring staff, and leveraging help desk and 7/24 system monitoring with no capital cost or learning curve.

Benefit Reason
Lower costs Gain access to innovative technologies and professional expertise for nominal investment that allows competitive advantage and reduces operational costs.
Lower risk Eliminate the risk of large capital expenditure to accommodate unplanned business changes, such as outages, inexperience, or unknown requirements.
Higher levels of support Professional support and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for availability as well as performance.
Predictable costs Costs always remain at the level specified in the agreement, so that the IT budget becomes stable and predictable.
Access to latest technology Subscribing to managed services provides the latest security, up-to-date services, and newest standards.
Access to enhanced skills base Managed service providers maintain a staff of specialists. Technical solutions are implemented quickly and at reasonable cost, without having to continually expand internal staff.
Adaptability Quickly react to changing business conditions and avoid high capital and operating expenses by having the managed service provider expand or reduce services.
Focus on core business Managed service providers are devoted entirely to customer and system requirements, so IT staff can concentrate on core business.
Capital expenditure reduction Managed service providers reduce technology infrastructure through virtualization and cloud computing, as well as providing forecast for equipment refresh and software licensing.

Managed Services Myths

As an increasing number of solution providers try to get into managed services, there are still many myths floating through the channel adding to the confusion for customers. The following are the top 10 myths:

  1. Managed Services are new. Actually, the managed service model has been around for over 15 years. You should just avoid providers who don't have more than 10 years experience providing managed services.
  2. Managed Services are expensive. Versus one or more IT staff, the cost should be less when considering taxes and benefits alone.
  3. By the hour costs less. Like gambling in Vegas, a break-fix model may have stretches of little or no cost. However, a roller coaster of downtime often follows with unexpected and significant cash outlay in short periods.
  4. Only an employee can understand. Most systems have common components and a provider has a breadth of like customer environments, across several personnel compared to the limited exposure of a single employee and site.
  5. Someone must be on site all the time. With remote tools, response is fast and may be provided by multiple personnel versus an individual employee that may be occupied.
  6. Software is not an asset. It is the customer’s responsibility to keep software in a locked cabinet.
  7. Buy it anywhere. It may have been a good deal, but that consumer product bought at a retail store is going to cost you much more in the long run.
  8. Managed Services are all or nothing. Many customers may choose to have a hybrid of IT and managed services for best function and lower cost.
  9. Managed Services is a model to sell more stuff. While some in the industry have taken this misguided approach, managed services are actually based upon saving cost for provider and customer with no motivation to sell product or bill by the hour.
  10. Management can forget about IT. In business, you can never fall asleep at the wheel. Upper management should be educated on IT business aspects and regularly informed of ongoing operations.
Managed Services Framework

Managed Services Model

Often described as the holy grail of technology support, the Managed Services Model is an attractive proposition to both vendors and customers. The reason why is because vendors have a predictable revenue stream and operations schedule, while customers enjoy lower cost over both hourly support or staff.

Managed Services Chart

Key Components

  • Accountability: The vendor takes complete, end-to-end responsibility of deliverables for support or a project.
  • Flat cost: Vendor provides flat cost for an agreed set of support and project deliverables.
  • Predictable budget: Budgets are often calculated on the basis of technology forecast and initiatives and set for a certain period of time ranging between 6 months to 5 years.
  • Expert specialization: For this model to work, the vendor should have an excellent understanding of client systems.
  • Client oversight: The role of the client is a reviewer with additional responsibility of contracts management and budget tracking.
  • Project management: Vendor is responsible for selection of solutions and resources, as well as managing expectations.
  • Service level: There are clear Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for each project or support deliverable.

Pros

  • With flat cost and vendor expertise, the client can fully focus on their core strategic initiatives.
  • Vendors may make long term strategic investments that indirectly benefit the client organization.
  • Vendors bring best practices into support and projects, making key process improvements.
  • Service level approach can also result in delivering significant, measurable benefits to the client organization.

Cons

  • Culture mismatch between client and vendor can often result in lack of understanding.
  • Process improvements can sometimes result in the reduction of client manpower.
  • Client may suffer failures from unnecessary vendor conflict when there is responsibility overlap in a multi-vendor situation.
  • Occasionally, vendors won't be in a position to understand all of the client pain points.
Managed Services Info

Managed Service Provider

Matrixforce is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) that provides delivery and management of information technology services and products. Our value proposition is specialized expertise with proven processes and systems for significantly less than alternatives.

Managed Service Providers have the following characteristics:

  1. Established: C Corporation with a minimum of 20 years in business.
  2. Veteran leadership: Education and national experience, including board members from other major organizations.
  3. Full IT management: Technology and business improvement, as well as implementation and support.
  4. Proprietary methodology: Well defined and proven procedures for service and delivery, along with on-going certification for support staff.
  5. Published knowledge base: Regularly updated with availability to clients, so that skill and understanding is not lost with changes in staff.
  6. Remote monitoring: Proactive insight and remediation, with integration and productivity tools.
  7. Professional Service Automation: Tools that provide case feedback for client management.
  8. Flat fee: Rather than hourly charges or averages of spending for IT support and projects.
  9. Guaranteed Response: Service level based upon criticalities.
  10. Vendor Management: Due diligence and review of products and services, including use of the same for managed service operations.

It is critical that the above characteristics are available in-house for a Managed Service Provider to meet the diverse needs of clients. Flat fee and monitoring alone do not make a Managed Service Provider. Managed Services are only cost-effective and efficient with a methodology, knowledge base, system integration, and available staff to respond to clients and monitoring alerts. Without all of these components, service providers cannot deliver the obligations promised for managed services.

Managed Services FAQ

How would my business benefit from Guardian® Managed Services?

Some of the proven benefits associated with Guardian® Managed Services include:

  • Reduced operating costs
  • Fewer operational headaches
  • Improved network performance and access
  • Increased employee satisfaction with IT support
  • Better continuity in IT support personnel and structure
  • Peace of mind knowing that experts are managing your IT environment

What organizations should utilize Guardian® Managed Services?

Managed Services are ideally suited to organizations with 25 to 250 employees. It efficiently serves the needs of businesses in a vast range of industries. Particularly those that are interested in saving money, improving the quality of IT support, and reducing operational headaches that slow productivity and take management and staff away from their core competencies.

How does a MSP support clients remotely?

Using proprietary remote management tools and a fully staffed service desk to manage IT environments anywhere in the country. When “on-site” support is needed, local engineering resources through established partnerships are utilized to meet the agreed upon service levels.

What are the client responsibilities?

Clients are responsible for maintaining support agreements for line of business applications, submitting case requests, acting upon recommendations, and regular executive review of IT operations.

Do most MSPs offer Hosting or Cloud Computing?

It varies by niche and competency, but many MSPs manage day-to-day operations, as well as business continuity of any hybrid infrastructure on-premise or hosted.

How does a MSP ensure the network is properly updated and configured?

System assurance is achieved by documenting the system upfront and throughout coverage in conjunction with proactive monitoring. Vetted MSPs meet regularly with client management to review IT operations, required upgrades, and implementation of emerging technology that benefit the organization.