Managed Service Providers (MSPs): Gaining an IT Performance Advantage

Keeping pace with shifting technology needs

INTRODUCTION

Changing business models are driving a shift in the role of IT―from leveraging technology and support of the business, to the higher, more strategic goal of driving business value. At a time when virtually every organization is scrambling to harness the potential of digital technology, IT teams are in a unique position to drive this transformation. 

While innovation can help drive business value and elevate your performance, navigating technology and managing complexity isn’t always easy. As your business needs change and grow, more focus is needed to ensure that technical delivery functions and IT services are designed, implemented, managed and controlled in a consistent manner. 

That’s where an experienced managed services provider (MSP) can deliver immense value. The MSP model is not merely a technology shift, but rather a transformative change where IT services transition from a generalist offering to more specialized services tailored to specific needs and use cases.

Managed IT services - IT security services

KEEPING IT EFFICIENT AND AGILE

No matter what industry you operate in, as your business grows, so do your IT support demands―including the need to effectively manage, upgrade, and protect mission-critical business systems, applications, and infrastructure. Without a carefully planned and focused approach to technology management, your IT team can become quickly inundated and unable to keep up―exposing your business to increased levels of risk across multiple areas.  

Technology-savvy companies have been shown to consistently out-perform the competition, no matter what sector they’re operating in. So, how do you apply and optimize technology to take your business to the next level? It all comes down to careful planning and working with the right team of experts. 

With the right IT managed services strategy, your business will be positioned to reap benefits across several critical domains.  

  • IT planning and strategy. One advantage of the managed services model is its proactive approach, which focuses on identifying and addressing issues before they can impact business performance. Using best practice tools and techniques, your managed services provider can work with you to develop the right technology roadmap with a strategic view toward long-term growth, cost optimization, and effective security. Expert analysis and careful planning help ensure the best approach to migrating platforms and applications to deliver optimum performance and efficiency.  
  • Access to new technologies. The benefits enabled by new technologies such as the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) are substantial, but tapping technology’s full potential requires a careful, balanced approach to deployment and management. The right managed services provider will help you pivot wisely to new technologies while helping to reap the maximum return from your legacy systems. Deep vendor relationships provide easy access to the latest technologies and business-grade solutions that can help maintain uptime, safeguard assets and sustain profitability. 
  • Benchmarking. By pinpointing areas of IT that are running smoothly and those that are not, the benchmarking process helps identify key areas for improvement and investment. Technologies and workflows are analyzed, tracking performance to uncover weaknesses, inefficiencies, and vulnerabilities. Once metrics have been established, recurring checks help ensure the technologies and processes are aligned with the benchmarks.
  • Cost savings. Keeping hardware and software updated and properly maintained―a core service of an MSP―can have a powerful impact on operational efficiency, cost savings, and ROI. With a managed services model, your in-house IT staff can focus on more important priorities, with your IT provider filling in the gaps and providing routine and specialized services where they are needed most. The MSP model also offers more predictable pricing and manageable costs, allowing businesses to better plan and budget for larger IT projects and improvements.
  • Enhanced security. MSPs are well-versed in the latest security tools and best practices to protect IT systems against today’s relentless barrage of cyberattacks. And they have the knowledge and expertise needed to mitigate threats quickly once they have been detected. With customized backup and recovery and business continuity planning solutions, your service provider can help keep your business up and running in the event of a disaster―quickly replacing faulty equipment, identifying and correcting infrastructure vulnerabilities, and restoring data and systems with minimal disruption. 
  • Peace of mind. With tools and techniques that can help detect performance gaps and potential vulnerabilities, MSPs are ideally positioned to help ease the stress and burden of day-to-day IT management. By outsourcing ongoing support tasks to a trusted partner, businesses can focus on more strategic priorities with greater peace of mind knowing that their IT operation is running smoothly and efficiently. 

ALIGNING YOUR IT NEEDS WITH MSP CAPABILITIES

Determining where and how you might benefit from an MSP starts with a careful evaluation of your current in-house resources, business goals, and growth plans. Does your IT team have time to focus on big-picture projects? Is your business looking to move some or all of your data to the cloud? Are your IT costs inconsistent and unpredictable? Does your business currently have a disaster contingency plan in place? Do you plan to grow or expand your business in the future? Does your business store and manage sensitive data?

As with most business solutions, there is no “one size fits all” model for managed services. Businesses can outsource to an MSP for a single service, such as backup and recovery, or they could engage a service provider for all their IT support needs.

While outsourcing can be a smart business strategy, not all MSPs are created equal. The range of capabilities and types of services offered by today’s MSPs run the gamut. To help ensure an optimum match for your specific needs, it’s important to carefully evaluate your potential IT provider across several core areas. 

  • Needs focused. A good IT provider should start by seeking to understand your current security posture, taking into consideration your unique data protection needs, compliance issues, and long-term business goals. How sensitive is the data you manage? What are your current methods of storage and will this change in the future? What are the protocols for data access? This detailed review will help uncover areas of weakness in your security infrastructure. The goal isn’t to sell you a bunch of new technology but to ensure an optimum level of security without sacrificing functionality.  
  • Technology planning. A business-aligned technology strategy provides a long-term vision, determining the business needs that will take priority and how success will be measured. Expert analysis and technology roadmap planning help ensure the best approach to migrating your platforms and applications to deliver optimum performance and maximum return on investment. The roadmap provides a coordinated method of managing changes to business priorities as they evolve―helping to make sure IT acts tactfully and purposefully when making technology decisions and managing projects.  
  • Cybersecurity expertise. Today’s cybercriminals have a toolbox of techniques at their disposal to exploit weaknesses in applications and infrastructure. That’s why you need a service provider who not only understands the latest security threats, but can accurately define your business requirements and implement a plan that best protects your assets and optimizes your return on investment. Effective security requires a holistic approach that takes into consideration your unique data protection and access needs, regulatory and market pressures, and long-term business goals. 
  • Remote monitoring. Based on your unique IT requirements, look for a provider with the ability to automate the monitoring and management of your IT infrastructure, including servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, network devices, and switches across your environment . This service should also support the automation of other tasks, such as for scheduled monitoring and updates. When action is required, alerts can trigger your IT team or your service provider’s help desk to initiate the appropriate response.
  • Cloud scalability. Your MSP should be skilled at managing the complexities of cloud deployments and willing to work with you to make sure you optimize your existing infrastructure and resources. The provider should be able to accurately assess the level of integration you require in your cloud infrastructure, taking into account your available resources, security requirements, and compliance demands. Ultimately, your cloud infrastructure should be able to effectively scale to meet shifting workload demands, improve operational efficiency, and avoid vendor lock-in.
  • Disaster recovery. As backup and storage processes migrate to the cloud, you’ll want a provider skilled at determining optimum price points, evaluating storage media options, and choosing the best course of action for your unique needs. With today’s flexible managed services offering, looks for a provider who can integrate the entire process of backup and recovery into a single service. Storage, design, testing, and around-the-clock proactive backup monitoring allow you to keep an eye on performance without having to manage the task yourself.
  • Systems management. As your business needs change and grow, more focus is needed to help ensure IT services and support functions are implemented and managed in a consistent manner. Look for an MSP that offers both break-fix and monthly fixed-rate systems management packages, so that you can choose the option that’s right for you, both now and as your business needs change. You’ll want to make sure they have experience in core areas like asset management, capacity planning, configuration management, automation and change management and performance monitoring.   
  • Industry expertise. Ideally you want to look for an IT provider with experience working in your particular field, especially if you operate in a regulated industry, such as healthcare or banking. As the data privacy regulations continue to proliferate, one major challenge is keeping track of new and emerging compliance requirements. Some data assets require minimal protection while others may require more robust security. Determining the optimum balance is essential. 
  • Solid track record. Active client references provide a good gauge of performance, responsiveness, reliability, and expertise. Customer feedback should provide a view into how the provider operates, and if they are a good match for your organization. Do they understand the business they are protecting? Are they up-to-date with the latest technologies, trends, and potential avenues of attack? Are they highly collaborative to achieve your business goals and objectives? Can they be your trusted partner?

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ALIGNING GOALS―UNDERSTANDING YOUR MSP’S IMPLEMENTATION APPROACH

Identifying what IT capabilities your business needs to reach its goals is essential. Knowing how to get it done ―the planning, strategy, and execution―is equally important. A results-focused, customer-centric approach to IT service implementation and management requires close collaboration between your in-house team and the IT consultant. 

At BACS, our first step is to make sure your IT strategy aligns with your business needs. We start with an IT assessment that helps determine how well your IT operation is performing, whether your business strategy is supported by your technology, and how to leverage technology and resources to full advantage. Our detailed evaluation will reveal insights into your IT strengths and weaknesses, uncover opportunities for cost optimization, and provide greater clarity for making difficult IT investment decisions.

Sound technology planning will allow you to more easily adapt to shifting business needs or new strategies, whether it’s geographic expansion, launching new products and services, or making decisions around mergers and acquisitions. BACS consultants work with you to develop the right technology roadmap with a strategic view towards long-term growth and maximum technology leverage. Our IT experts understand the complexities and challenges of technology deployment and work to ensure your solutions align with your priorities and will scale appropriately.   

Assessing your IT environment

The goal of the IT assessment is to gain insights into your IT strengths and weaknesses, uncover opportunities for cost optimization, and provide greater clarity for making difficult technology investment decisions. As part of the assessment, BACS consultants will analyze technologies and workflows and evaluate overall performance to identify potential weaknesses, inefficiencies, and vulnerabilities.

Data gathered from the assessment is then used to create a plan for performance improvement including actionable implementation steps, timelines, roadmaps, cost estimates, and options.

The comprehensive IT assessment will help your business:

  • Stay current with the latest technologies and security defenses
  • Identify opportunities for cost optimization
  • Meet compliance standards for security, uptime, and data governance
  • Improve the reliability and availability of applications and resources
  • Plan for new capabilities based on defined business goals 

Establishing your budget

Flexible, subscription-based pricing is one of the core advantages of the IT outsourcing model. To help you better plan and budget for IT expenses, BACS offers monthly billing based on the range of services you need. This allows your in-house IT team to focus on more pressing business priorities with a team of outside support specialists filling in the gaps and providing routine and specialized services where they are needed most. As your business scales, your subscription service can be expanded or downsized to match your needs.  

With BACS’s flexible managed services options, you never have to worry about sudden spikes or surprises in your IT support costs. You get predictable, enterprise-level IT support and solutions designed to deliver the peace of mind that comes with reliable, smooth-running IT systems and processes.

Mitigate Potential Threats To Your Organization

CREATING AND IMPLEMENTING YOUR IT PERFORMANCE PLAN

Establishing solid relationships with our clients requires many things to be done well. One of those is effective onboarding. That’s why we take the initiative to set clear expectations from the start. We work closely with you to clearly outline your goals and then back them with actionable deliverables. One of the things we do at BACS to help ensure we started on the right track is to hold an initial kick-off call. 

The goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page and this early alignment helps set the tone for the rest of the engagement. It’s also an opportunity for us to get to know more about your business, your challenges, your priorities, and the dynamics of your internal team. We make sure you understand who your main point of contact is going to be, set up a communication schedule, and identify some initial goals going forward.  

Ongoing review and assessment

One of the ways we add value at BACS is by continuously soliciting client feedback and finding ways to enhance the service experience. One of our biggest strengths is our persistence and commitment to listening to what you have to say. We ask questions. We take the temperature of the relationship. What are your biggest struggles? How can we provide better service? We review our processes and remove any communication barriers. 

We want to hear what you have to say, but we also brainstorm with our internal team about opportunities, potential roadblocks, and what competitors are doing. Ultimately we use the feedback to improve your service experience and make it an integral part of the improvement process.

Taking a proactive management approach

Here at BACS, we help you take full advantage of the opportunities a proactive IT approach enables, whether it’s growing revenue, capturing market share, or enhancing the customer experience. We work closely with you to understand your overarching vision and develop a defined roadmap as part of an ongoing “alignment” cycle. 

Recurring checks and ongoing follow up help make sure our recommendations are delivering results and are aligned with your business goals. With daily reporting, quarterly reviews, personalized training, and additional support, your team can focus on strategy and growth instead of stressing over routine maintenance tasks. 

To help ensure your results are aligned with your business goals, our team will work with you to:

  • Develop a strategic IT plan and review it with you regularly to make sure we stay on track.  
  • Address any gaps in your IT support needs and recommend updates to address fast-changing IT and business performance needs. 
  • Review your security practices and note any deficiencies. 
  • Advise you on how best to optimize the performance and resiliency of your IT infrastructure
  • Establish an ongoing process that we’ll use to initially get your IT infrastructure and support processes aligned and then keep it aligned over time.

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THE IT PERFORMANCE BENEFITS OF SUPERIOR IT SERVICE

BACS relentlessly pushes the envelope in our effort to help you get more from your people, processes, technology, and budget. Our expert analysis and technology roadmap planning help ensure the best approach to migrating your platforms and applications to deliver optimum performance and maximum return on investment.

With managed IT services from BACS, you can optimize the value and return on your technology investments while reducing the cost spent on operating and maintaining poorly planned, out-of-date processes and infrastructure.

In today’s era of rapid change, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s important. That’s where working with a customer-centric IT provider like BACS can deliver substantial value. By outsourcing ongoing support tasks to a trusted partner, your business can focus on more strategic priorities with greater peace of mind knowing that your IT operation is running smoothly, efficiently, and reliably. Contact us now to gain an IT performance advantage for your business. 

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