By B.J. Havlik, CEO
The availability, performance and security of your IT systems may be your top IT priority - and they should be - but answer honestly … how many times has your IT staff been pulled away from attending to these important functions by an emergency or other business need?
Providing the right level of staffing to consistently care for these non-discretionary tasks is a problem that nearly every business faces at one time or another. Optimizing your staff to meet anticipated workloads and still remain within the organization’s set budget is a balancing act that isn’t easy to manage. When you’re relying solely on an in-house IT team to meet all of your technological needs, it’s not possible to increase or decrease staff members at the flip of a switch as workloads ebb and flow. But it is possible to do that in a co-managed IT services relationship.
In a co-managed relationship, you can take those non-discretionary activities - all of the things that absolutely must be done to ensure the availability, performance and security of your IT systems - and you can assign them to a trusted managed service provider (MSP) who acts and feels like an extension of your team. Why would you want to do that? Let’s say 40 percent of your internal IT staff’s time is dedicated to “lights on” activities that keep everything running smoothly, and 60 percent of your internal IT staff’s time is set aside for project work. If the team is functioning at capacity, which is the most efficient use of your budget, when new high-priority projects crop up unexpectedly, there is no one to work on them … unless you pull hours away from the tasks that should be non-discretionary. That’s the logical thing to do when things are running smoothly, right? But it’s the very thing that causes things not to run smoothly in the long run because someone needs to be dedicated to those everyday functions that ensure your systems’ availability, performance and security - which is exactly why we refer to these tasks as “non-discretionary” functions.
When we have these discussions with mid-market clients, they understand and agree that all of this is important. Oftentimes, however, the stumbling block is simply a matter of rhetoric. What we are suggesting with a co-managed relationship sounds a lot like the traditional “outsourcing” that most people have heard of, though in practical terms, the functionality is very different. In an outsourced relationship, companies typically assign the entire function of managing their IT environment to a third party. There is a layer of governance in between that includes service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure the client knows what the outsourcer is doing and has a way to measure and hold them accountable. In a co-managed relationship, while those SLAs and governance are still required, the goal isn’t to hand over all the management of your IT systems to someone else. Instead, with a co-managed relationship, it’s more about staff augmentation. The co-managed partner takes ownership of key tasks that need to be done all the time to ensure your systems operate smoothly, but the partner works hand-in-hand with your own IT staff, so there’s a feeling in the co-managed relationship that you have just expanded your own internal team - but without the overhead and expense of hiring additional full-time staff members.
It’s a close working relationship in which there is a single dedicated person within the MSP’s organization who works with your staff on a day-to-day basis. You know the person as well as if they were an actual member of your staff - and they know you, your IT team and your systems that well too. But, because that person is part of a larger MSP organization, he or she has a plethora of resources to draw on when you need to quickly ramp up or down your IT staff. And he or she has a wealth of knowledge to draw upon when you come across a problem that your internal team may not have experienced before because, chances are, the MSP has seen it before and knows how to resolve it.
The kinds of tasks a co-managed partner might provide vary with each client, but include things like managing your servers and your network, implementing patches (a key aspect of security that many organizations fail to employ), ensuring both desktop and laptop security for your users, providing 24x7 monitoring, and acting as a service desk to your internal users. What will your internal team do? They will continue to focus on customer service just as they always have. They will discuss, understand and manage user expectations, and they will manage the relationship between IT and the business. And, of course, they will work on projects designed to help the business function more productively. The co-managed partner will become the deep technical back end that provides a safety net for the internal team and the business as a whole - as well as a partner who is always at the ready with problem-solving recommendations.
Top Reasons to Consider a Co-Managed Relationship
- Better Business Performance: When the availability, performance and security of your network is not attended to on a consistent basis, it can have a profound effect on your business performance. Consider, for example, a degradation in network performance that affects 10 percent of the users in a 500-person company. That degradation prevented 50 people from performing their jobs optimally for the entire time it takes your internal team to identify and remedy the cause, something which could have been prevented with daily attention to the details the keep your systems functioning at peal optimization.
- Extended Resources: Rather than “getting by” with the least number of IT people possible, by implementing a co-managed relationship with a skilled and trusted third-party MSP, you multiply the capabilities of your internal staff exponentially essentially overnight simply by leaning on the extended resources available through your co-managed partner when you need them.
- Happier Users: The more your internal team can focus on quick-response first-level IT support, the happier - and more productive - your employees, partners and customers will be. By having a co-managed partner working behind the scenes to keep things up and running, your internal staff can focus on putting out any fires that happen quickly and on completing business-critical projects in a more efficient way. The end result? Happier users, better productivity, and IT systems that actually augment your business in the myriad of ways they were intended to do from the start.
- More Secure Environment: Those non-discretionary services mentioned earlier are nothing to take for granted. They are, in fact, non-discretionary because they serve a vitally important purpose: keeping your IT systems available 24x7, performing optimally, and most of all secure. By carving out those non-discretionary services and assigning them to a trusted co-managed partner, you ensure that your technology is doing its job and that it remains secure. No one wants to give cybercriminals the green light simply by overlooking an easily closed back door, but with un-fulfilled patches and out-of-date protections that IT teams become too busy to “deal with” from time to time, that’s exactly what happens. By assigning these tasks to a co-managed partner, those vulnerabilities remain closed.
While the goal with IT is that nothing ever breaks, the reality is, it sometimes does. With a co-managed IT model in place, you’ll have the right depth of expertise to enable quick resolutions to issues as they occur, increasing your business productivity and enhancing the performance of your IT systems as well as your users’ interactions with them.
To learn more about co-managed services and the ways SRC Technologies can help you realize better business productivity through IT systems that are available, perform optimally, and remain secure, contact us and let us show you what a co-managed relationship can do for you.