What are Managed Services?
A simple guide to outsourced IT services — and how they work
Managed Services are actions and responsibilities which are outsourced to a professional firm for ongoing maintenance and administration.
For example, many organisations outsource their cybersecurity monitoring and incident response to a 3rd party, saving time and money, whilst strengthening security capability.
The numbers are almost unbelievable —
It is forecasted that organisations are set to spend $296 billion on managed services in 2023.
Why are businesses shifting to managed services?
Managing IT in-house is challenging. You have to hire staff, train and upskill them, manage your whole IT environment, and respond to emergencies whenever they arise (whether it’s “the printer paper is jammed”, or “the internet has gone down again”).
Getting access to skills and expertise around the clock, where there is an incentive to solve issues quickly, is one of the main reasons organisations are increasingly adopting managed services.
So how do they work? What are the benefits? Are there any downsides? Can they save you money?
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know.
What managed services are:
Managed services can fulfil almost any IT service requirement, such as:
- End-user IT Support
- Backup & Disaster Recovery
- Email Security
- Endpoint Security
- Monitoring & Incident Response
- Server, Storage & Virtualisation Management
- Operating System Patching & Software Updates
- Network & Wireless Administration
- Cybersecurity Management
- Compliance Program Administration
- Mobile Device Management
Managed services can be ordered individually, or as part of a broader package, tailored to your organisation.
Managed services plans are usually paid monthly, providing certainty in costs, and peace of mind knowing your infrastructure is being supported.
These services are delivered by managed services providers (MSPs) like Yell IT, who make IT services their core competency.
Why do businesses prefer Managed Services?
- Increased pool of talent — improved skills & knowledge
- Improved coverage — access to additional services and capabilities — on a 24/7 basis
- Major cost savings — MSPs take on the burden of hiring technical staff, paying for salaries, benefits, training, as well as investing in the tools for monitoring, management and automation.
And there are more benefits than cost — see below for a full list.
Pros & Cons
Key benefits & drawbacks of managed services
Managed services have some compelling advantages which can provide real results — but it’s good to be aware of the downsides:
MSPs hire the staff, and invest in tools, training and certifications, providing valuable economies of scale, which are passed on to customers.
Also, managed monitoring allows problems to be spotted and resolved quickly, minimising costly downtime or security incidents.
Maximum security and uptime
Security and network incidents can cost time, money and reputation. By outsourcing to an experienced MSP, you get expert protection against threats and performance drops, and rapid response to minimise outages — delivering real business results.
Extended team, access to expertise
There is a skills shortage in the IT industry, and hiring qualified staff is expensive. While many organisations don’t need, for example, a backup engineer on-site 24/7 — having access to expertise when you need it is a critical advantage.
MSPs like Yell IT hire IT staff across a range of specialisms, providing you with additional capabilities that would be too expensive to replicate in-house.
Flexible and Scalable
The advantage of buy-what-you-need managed services means you’ll get everything you need — with the ability to scale as you grow. This all comes without the need to recruit and retain staff internally.
Any managed services provider worth their salt will maintain up-to-date documentation for your systems.
This ensures information held in the business, not with individuals, so that when staff move, knowledge does not leave with them.
Frees up Time
With tasks outsourced to an MSP, your internal IT team can get back to the projects you’ve had on the backburner, assured that your provider is ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
Process and Automation-driven efficiency
Good MSPs are agile, working quickly within pre-defined processes, constantly improving, making tasks and processes more efficient. At Yell IT, we automate where possible, as well as continually refining tools and processes to minimise wasted time. This critically reduces the time to respond and delivers IT as effectively as possible.
Takes time to adjust
In the same way as employee inductions, it takes time for your managed services team to understand your environment, access credentials, familiarise themselves with common issues and learn how they can best assist.
Some IT work is best kept in-house
Not every task should be outsourced.
The best example is in-house desktop IT support. When end-users have IT issues, having access to specialised support in-person can be the most effective way of resolving a problem.
Time and money can often be wasted troubleshooting issues remotely — and having dedicated staff on-site is often the most cost-effective outcome.
It is important to consider on a case-by-case basis whether outsourcing to an external provider would deliver a better business outcome.
How managed services work on a day-to-day basis
Working with an MSP on a daily basis is straightforward.
Your provider will proactively carry out their day-to-day responsibilities, such as maintaining software updates, or monitoring and optimising your network to maintain stability.
Getting additional support
If you need to request additional support or report an issue, your provider will provide a range of contact methods, such as phone, email, and ticketing system.
How long will support take to react? Strict response times are outlined in your agreement, with response times normally categorised by severity.
For example, if you are a retail firm, you might have a 10 minute maximum response time for business-critical issues — however, it’s worth noting that smaller response times can come at a greater cost.
Meeting & reporting
Depending on your provider, monthly meetings and reports may be in place.
At Yell IT, we hold a monthly meeting with our managed services clients, taking them through a report of the last month, incidents resolved and actions taken. This gives a regular opportunity to review our services, and adjust our delivery to your needs.
There are times when you might need custom reporting, so you can request additional information when you need it. Sometimes this will be included in your agreement, or, occasionally, this can require more work to pull together, so may come at additional cost.
Getting started with managed services
So how do you get started with managed services?
The first step is to start a discussion with an experienced managed services provider like Yell IT.
The service provider will ask questions, learn about your business and requirements, and pull together an indicative outline of the potential costs involved. This allows you to gauge the pricing and capabilities you will be getting.
Developing the agreement
After your initial discussions, your provider will generate a managed services agreement, a document which covers the service inclusions, exclusions, response times, costs, and contractual details. This tells you exactly what the provider will be doing for your business — and at what cost.
At this point, you can negotiate and amend the agreement to ensure you are happy with the proposed cost and coverage. Once signed, your contract will come into action.
Orienting & On-boarding
To start, the service provider will begin their onboarding process. We, for example, kick-off the onboarding with careful familiarisation of your:
- Needs & expectations
- Structure and key people
- Approval processes
- Short and long-term strategy
- IT infrastructure (inventory, network layout, security architecture)
- Software and hardware licenses
- Business processes
- Major pain points
Following this, deep technical assessment of your infrastructure will take place, where experts will uncover key risks, bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. These can include security issues and performance inefficiencies.
Then, the provider will create documentation, outline and schedule ongoing improvement works, deploy monitoring, ticket submission or any other tools required to facilitate their services.
After this has been completed, most managed services providers send a report of early findings, to outline issues discovered, remediation recommendations and any requirements before commencing.
At Yell IT, we deliver a welcome presentation, giving your staff an overview of the services and guaranteed response times, as well as training for logging support requests and classifying ticket severity. This helps us get familiar with each other, and set clear expectations from the outset.
Start a conversation with an expert.
Get in touch with our team today to discuss your IT challenges — and find out how your business can benefit from managed services with Yell IT.
Interested in managed services?