Hiring a managed services provider (MSP) can save IT departments a lot of time, money and effort. Allowing someone else to take care of common tasks like backups, network monitoring and resolution of standard incidents can also help IT staff focus on what’s really important instead of putting out fires and executing mundane chores. While it’s a major benefit, CIOs and IT managers need to take precaution when setting up managed services for their company. Here are the most common mistakes made when executing managed services plans.
Hiring the wrong provider
As with any job, the “iron triangle” applies here. That’s the rule that says you can have it good, fast or cheap, but you can only pick two. Take the time to evaluate all providers, including Syntax and others, and decide what your company’s specific needs are. Too many CIOS just go with the least expensive option or jump at the first provider recommended by colleagues. It’s vital to carefully figure out what’s most important to you and find the right provider who will suit those needs.
Failing to prioritize your services
Another mistake is not determining which areas of the managed services contract are most important. If the managed services provider is monitoring servers, for example, which are the most important production servers and which are development and test boxes? What backup jobs does your backup provider need to give special attention to and rerun right away when they fail? IT managers who don’t tell their MSP what’s important are setting themselves up for failure.
Managing the wrong thing
The managed services field covers a lot of ground. While MSPs can help IT departments become more efficient, having the managed service provider administer the wrong thing won’t help with efficiency at all. It will just cost a lot of money for very little service. Consider the company who had multiple failed backup jobs daily but hired an MSP to manage their problem-free database servers. IT staff were just as busy as before troubleshooting backups, so managed services didn’t help at all. It is crucial to take the time to properly evaluate needs when signing up for MS.
Not all managed services firms are the same. Hiring a managed services firm without determining whether their core competencies match your need is a sure road to wasted money, lost time and failure. Again, research is crucial here. Don’t be afraid to ask the MSP representative for references from companies who have hired them for the same services you are considering buying. A specialty firm will go a long way to help relieve stress. One who may not have the specific knowledge you need will only make it worse.
Not evaluating your workload
This is especially important when hiring a managed services company to handle high-volume tasks like helpdesk management and issue resolution. In cases like this, the MSP’s fee estimate will be based on the expected workload. Go over that estimate and you may pay a penalty. To avoid this costly blunder, use any reporting tools at your disposal to get a clear view of your real workload. This is the work you’re transferring to the MSP and it needs to be accurate.
Not building in flexibility
This is another area where penalties and extra fees can easily mount. It’s important to make sure the MSP service contract includes language that allows you to expand the scope of services. For example, a server and network monitoring contract must allow for the addition of new equipment, not just replacements. All businesses grow. A managed services contract must grow with them.
Paying for what you no longer have
This is a costly mistake made by companies who hire out for hardware maintenance. It’s imperative to perform a quarterly inventory of all hardware and to make contacting the MSP part of any change control process. Without this necessary step, many companies find themselves paying for maintenance for servers they decommissioned long ago.
Managed services can take a lot of the headache out of running an IT infrastructure. But hiring an MSP is not a “set it and forget it” situation. Careful consideration, planning and ongoing maintenance of the relationship with the MSP is critical. Avoiding missteps like those outlined here will ensure a long and rewarding relationship with your MSP.
This is a guest article from syntax.