Today’s business landscape is dominated by advancing technology and many businesses find their IT department can struggle to stay current with the latest systems and trends. Developers of new technologies offer many promises including improved productivity, cost savings and guaranteed return on investment (ROI). In a bid to compete, businesses are investing more than ever in new technology with Gartner Research reporting a projected global spend of around $3.7 million in 2018. However many companies find that despite heavy technological investment, they fail to see the dramatic results and enhanced productivity they had hoped for. In fact, Deloitte’s Productivity Paradox study highlighted that productivity growth has actually stagnated or declined across the world despite dramatic technology progressions. Often the reason these investments fail to produce the desired results is that however clever the technology, it still requires the right people, support and knowledge to complement the investment.
Sourcing the right people with the key skills to enhance technology investment can be an uphill battle with well reported skills shortages across the UK’s IT sector. A recent report by the Edge Group noted an estimated 600,000 unfilled tech vacancies across the UK as over half of digital businesses reported difficulty in attracting and retaining staff with appropriate skills. When faced with these challenges, many organisations choose to turn to a managed service provider (MSP) to help bridge the gap. An MSP can support businesses by providing specialist IT functions that may not be available within the existing framework or by providing complete IT support (particularly in the case of small businesses). In a managed service arrangement, the MSP is responsible for the IT functionality and equipment and services and businesses normally pay the provider a pre-defined monthly fee.
The ultimate decision to employ the services of an MSP is usually based around enabling companies to focus on core business rather than on IT framework and the comfort of predictive costs but there are various reasons for adopting this service.
Supporting the IT team
One of the most notable advantages of outsourcing specified functions and services to an MSP is to enhance the overall IT offering by incorporating a level of expertise not currently available inhouse. Put simply, the MSP can provide an extension to the existing inhouse team, transforming a small team into a larger one without the expense of recruitment and training.
Many businesses simply don’t have the expertise for specialist areas and acknowledge that to develop this capability including the cost of hiring and training staff, procurement of facilities and keeping systems and technologies secure and up to date, can amount to significant financial investment. By entrusting an MSP to manage specific dedicated areas, the in-house team can maintain focus on core business needs while the provision of skilled additional staff with expertise in specialist technologies can alleviate pressure. An MSP can also manage risk on behalf of the business with specialist industry knowledge particularly in relation to security and compliance.
Reduce time-wastage and disruption
When complex IT issues arise they can impact business productivity as IT teams scramble to fire fight the problem. A particularly complex situation can require the attention of the entire IT team reducing their productivity in other key areas. By utilising the services of an outsourced MSP, businesses can avail of both onsite and remote support to address issues as quickly as possible without disrupting day to day activities and core IT functions. Routine infrastructure management can also be outsourced to the MSP resulting in fewer IT system interruptions. This results in less downtime while managing issues and allows inhouse teams to concentrate on the day to day running of the business systems. By incorporating the services of an MSP for changing or incorporation of complex systems and back end function, in house teams are freed up to concentrate on their core objectives. An MSP also has the ability to rapidly implement new technology meaning projects can progress more smoothly without delay.
Flexible and scalable
With increased requirement for technology comes increased need for the software, hardware, people and processes to support it. These technologies inevitably require servicing and maintenance which can prove costly and are often difficult to budget for as unforeseen events occur. In the situation of rapid growth, it is also very difficult to provide adequate staffing, but the incorporation of an MSP means a business can easily scale up or down to accommodate demand as per requirement.
Managed services often incorporate flexible payment plans that allow for quick growth when needed and reduction in quieter periods. This avoids the need to recruit and train highly specialised people inhouse.
A proactive approach
Crisis management is a common feature in IT operations with teams regularly spending vast qualities of time reacting to everyday issues and system failures. Managed services can help companies to take an offensive approach to IT rather than a reactionary response. Addressing issues before they arise ultimately saves time and money offering preventative management of problems before they have an opportunity to turn into expensive repairs and downtimes. MSPs also monitor networks 24/7 ensuring problems are identified proactively and addressed quickly with minimum disruption to the business.
Of course cost is always a major consideration when adopting any new business strategy with price and ROI often being the ultimate decider at board level. Advocates of managed services often note the potential for cost reduction when compared to the outlay required to incorporate new technology, replace legacy systems, or to recruit and train additional staff. Fixed pre-agreed monthly costs offer businesses clarity for effective budget control without the risk of surprise charges for unforeseen circumstances. By avoiding the need for additional recruitment, this has a knock-on effect on saving costs in the human resource department as well as the IT team.
Regular maintenance and repairs are usually built into the contract, meaning no unexpected service costs making budgetary planning more effective and predictable.
John Brett, Technical Operations Manager, Nexus Open Systems
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