Introduction to the Series
There has been a big shift towards the IT Managed Services model in recent years. One of the main reasons is because Managed Services are designed to be proactive.
With traditional IT support, it is usually the case that you only know something has gone wrong after the event. Managed Services should have all the tools in place that allow potential problems to be identified before they arise, leading to more stable IT environments.
But what does a ‘good’ Managed Service offering look like? I’ve put this blog series together to help business leaders answer this question. There are fundamentals to look out for in a good Managed Service package, which I have covered below. Each of these topics will be included in further blog posts in the coming weeks.
Predictability is the key to any good Managed Service offering. Your provider should be able to tell you exactly what’s covered as part of the agreement. It’s commonly the case that multiple Managed Service offerings are needed to provide full coverage of your IT environment. For example, Circle Cloud have five separate offerings. Even though this might seem like a lot, it’s this structure that is the strength of the Managed Service model as it allows for the level of detail needed to provide a robust service.
This again comes down to predictability and being well-defined. There are usually various monitoring and remote management tools that are required as part of a Managed Service Package. Getting people onboarded onto these tools and properly configured requires a lot of thought and planning. That’s why there should be a clearly defined onboarding procedure for each Managed Service, and your provider should be able to tell you what this is.
Monitoring and Managing
This is one of the areas that sets the Managed Service model apart from IT Support. A Managed Service Provider should have a standard set of monitors that they will hook into key elements of your IT environment. These monitors allow the ‘always on’ management of your assets. They should be constantly analysing important information that allows problems to be seen before they arise. These monitors should also be set up to deliver automated warnings to one of their engineers when one of these resource elements is starting to become a problem. This is the backbone of being proactive, allowing a Managed Service Provider to eliminate potential problems before they cause impact.
Effective Service Desks
Even though Managed Services are built to be proactive, there are still times when your organisation’s IT users experience problems. This is where there needs to be clearly defined ways of raising issues with your provider’s service desk. Most organisations will offer the ability to log tickets via telephone and email as a minimum. But the key here isn’t just how the tickets a logged, it’s what happens with them. Your provider should have specific processes for dealing with tickets. More importantly, they should have staff trained specifically to deal with the kind of issues you’re experiencing. This is again where having clearly defined plans is massively important. If a company offers you IT support for ‘everything’, I would ask questions. How can they have the expertise to do this in such a varied IT landscape?
You see our blog on Effective Service Desks here.
With various monitoring tools available to Managed Service providers, as well as the vast amount of information in the cloud products being used, there is lots of information that can be reported on. But reporting just for sake can be overwhelming. The reports that are made available as part of your service should provide you information that matters. Again, it comes back to having a clearly defined service. A predictable service should have a standardized set of reports, which your Managed Service Provider should be able to tell you about in advance.
When we think of account management, we think of somebody who we can call when the proverbial hits the fan. That same person might also come to see you every so often to have a bit of a chat over a cuppa. Whilst all this is important, your account manager needs to bring more to the table. Review meetings should be scheduled routinely and form part of the SLAs. The agenda should be predefined and should focus on the key areas of your service. Reports are great, but it is the account manager’s job to consolidate all the information across the service and present it to you in a way that is meaningful, and that allows you to make good decisions around your IT.
A well-defined Managed Service should have commercial transparency. You should know what’s included in the price, and what will cost you extra. There should be a specific set of ‘Service Definitions’ included as standard, which as a minimum should include basic things such as how to log a ticket, what the response and resolution times are, and what the escalation procedure is should things need to be pushed up the chain. The Service Definitions is also the place where all the other items covered in this blog are clearly outlined, from the onboarding procedure all the way through to a list of monitors that will be applied to your environment as standard.
Having an effective service desk is one of the fundamentals of any good Managed Service, so we've covered that here.
If you’re interested in finding out more about what Circle Cloud’s Managed Service offerings look like, get in touch. One of our friendly staff will talk you through it over the phone.