January 26, 2023
At face value, it may seem counterintuitive that so many businesses are adding services while many experts are predicting a severe recession.
Can we talk about the multiple elephants in the room here? Most managed services aren’t exactly cheap, and depending on a third party for core business functions seems like it would only tie your hands just when what you most need is flexibility.
If you’re having those thoughts, I get it. But I’d also love the opportunity to explain what managed services can do to help you make your 2023 a lot easier — a possible recession notwithstanding.
What Are Managed Services?
Not all managed services are the same because not all providers are the same. But generally speaking, a managed service is a way of outsourcing a portion of your daily operations to a third party. Can your business accomplish these tasks in-house? Probably. But a good Managed Service Provider (MSP) will do a lot more than just check the box.
What Are the Benefits of Managed Services?
Have you ever used a travel agent? If so, then you already get it. Can you book a trip yourself? Of course you can! But hiring a pro can help you save a tremendous amount of time, find you hidden savings, solve problems quickly when things go wrong, and let you focus your time and talents on something else, like finding a dog sitter and making sure you can leave the office in good shape.
A service provider does much more for businesses. Depending on the service, an excellent provider can help in many ways:
- Find cost savings to offset the cost of the service
- Identify and reduce inefficiencies
- Increase security
- Add flexibility to scale up or down
- Add world-class capabilities almost instantly without adding full-time staff
- Help you address persistent recruiting and talent retention challenges
- Boost productivity and morale
- Provide insight into what’s worked well at organizations like yours
- Leverage strategic partnerships to give you insider pricing
Common Types of Managed Service
Although every organization is different, almost all of them need some of the same fundamentals. And wherever you find a fairly fundamental business task that sometimes causes undue stress or takes time out of someone’s day, there you will also find a category of managed service.
Broadly speaking, categories of managed services include, but are not limited to:
Let’s examine each of these in more detail.
1. Managed IT Services
Because IT is such a broad category in and of itself, many providers will offer you some flexibility to customize your contract with them and get only the services you need. For example, if your internal staff is fully capable of managing your infrastructure and tools, but cybersecurity and help desk support add stress to their day, you might contract with a Managed IT provider to remove that burden completely from your team.
2. Managed Print Services
Managed Print Services (MPS) is an especially popular choice for many businesses because printers can be expensive, frustrating, and complicated — the perfect recipe for outsourcing. Not all managed print providers are the same, but an excellent provider can automate supply ordering, use advanced software to identify when maintenance or repairs are needed, reduce workplace disruptions, and offset the costs of their service with advanced cost-saving techniques.
3. Managed Communication
The job of managing communication and collaboration solutions is often left to an organization’s IT department. But adding and removing lines and features eats up time — time that may be better spent elsewhere. Communication tools have evolved significantly in the past few years, and if yours haven’t, a managed voice provider can give you insider tips on the tools that will bring you the most ROI.
4. Managed Security Service Providers
Providers that specialize in security are often referred to as Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). An MSSP can monitor your systems remotely and provide timely security updates and system upgrades. In other words, yes, those pesky things that most organizations dread.
Applying patches and security updates quickly is one of the most effective and cost-effective measures an organization can take to minimize cybersecurity threats, but too many organizations put these important safety measures off because they can be annoying and time-consuming. Again, the perfect use case for outsourcing.
5. Managed Software (SaaS)
With software offered as a service, employees can access their tools and data easily from anywhere. Newer versions are available to everyone the instant they are released. And while frequent security updates can be annoying, they’re nowhere near as disruptive as upgrading software the traditional way. Last but not least, more companies are able to access cutting-edge tools without a massive up-front investment.
If your company hasn’t yet migrated to the cloud, a highly skilled SaaS provider can also make that process relatively painless.
What Will You Get From an MSP?
I alluded to this earlier — not all providers are the same. Your Service Level Agreement (SLA) should spell out exactly what your provider includes as part of their offering. A thorough SLA will also spell out what happens should anything go wrong. It’s also a good idea to look for any sections that are missing. And that leads me to a very important point…
A Special Note Regarding Managed Print Providers
You may have heard that print security is an important topic now that hackers have figured out how to use networked printers to access all sorts of data and infiltrate organizations’ private networks.
If your print provider doesn’t mention any cybersecurity services in their SLA, then those responsibilities remain yours. That’s fine if your staff has the time to stay informed about new risks and learn how to mitigate them. But it is an additional job, and there may be consequences if it’s not done well.
Finding the Best Provider
An MSP is a very important business partner, and if they’re worth their salt, they will dedicate some time to getting to know your organization and how it operates before they start suggesting solutions. Expect a closer relationship than you might have with other vendors, and understand that your provider’s approach will be to serve, not to sell.
Your organization’s goals should also be top of mind for your provider, and helping you reach them should be their mission. It should be crystal clear to you that their interests are aligned with yours, and not just with the words they use, but also in what they offer. For example, at Marco, all of our managed print clients receive security services as part of our regular offering, because: (1) we have the capabilities, and (2) we believe it’s the right thing to do.
If you’re considering using a provider to help make any facet of your operations easier, we’re pretty easygoing at Marco. If you have lingering questions about managed services, our team of U.S.-based experts will answer your questions in plain language so that you can make a well-informed decision.