Managed Services – What’s All the Buzz About?

It seems like the new buzz word, that all of us in the IT industry have been hearing about for the last couple of years, is Managed Services. And doesn’t it also seem like the definition of Managed Services continues to change depending upon whom you ask? In fact, this term is so new that you’ll have a hard time finding a definition for it in the dictionary. Now clear your mind for a moment, discard any existing preconceptions, and for the remainder of this discussion I’ll use the following definition when referring to Managed Services deliverables: Any defined set of proactive services that are delivered and prepaid for on a recurring basis.

Let’s digest this definition for a moment. The word “any” is a powerful one and it means that when defining Managed Services deliverables as “any defined set of proactive services,” the deliverables are not limited to just network monitoring or IT services. Hardware vendors, co-location facilities and service providers can all use this term to describe their product and services offerings.

Now let’s look at the remaining elements of the definition: “remotely delivered,” “prepaid for,” and especially “recurring basis.” By understanding these concepts, and as an SMB      Managed Cloud Services service provider, you can begin to appreciate how they can help you increase utilization of your technicians and engineers, and your revenue opportunities.

Managed Services Provider Benefits

The benefits of offering Managed Services are many. First, as you deliver more services through remote means, the less you’ll need to schedule onsite visits, and the more you’ll be able to increase the utilization of your workforce and your earning potential. As you add new clients and transition existing clients to this annuity-based service model each month, you’ll be able to avoid the dreaded “feast or famine” cycles, and instead recognize significant revenue growth.

Sounds good so far, right? Let me take it a step further. Now that you are delivering services through remote means, eliminating much of the travel time required for onsite support, and not trading time for money, you can do much more with less. Think about it-travel is the biggest utilization killer. In your local market, technicians can lose up to an hour each way when traveling to provide onsite support. Add to that the reality that once a technician is onsite, he or she can typically focus on resolving issues for only that one particular client.

Using this same example, the technician has already lost a couple of hours to travel, now add the actual time spent onsite-and that’s after addressing only a single client’s issues. Let’s also throw in a lunch hour for our technician, since he or she hasn’t had one yet. By the time the technician returns to the office, he or she could potentially be gone for six hours (or more)–yikes! Plus, if you’re like most IT business owners, you’re paying for the gasoline–and we all know that’s not getting any cheaper.

Now, let me take the same example and view it through our Managed Services model. Instead of jumping in a car to drive to the site, the technician uses an application to gain access to the client’s network server or end-user desktop remotely and then initiates a maintenance or troubleshooting session. Let’s say it’s a basic cleanup and optimization issue. Because there is generally not a lot that can be done while antivirus scans are being run, or drives are being defragmented, the technician now has an opportunity to address more than just this single issue for this particular client.

In other words, you can address multiple issues for different clients while engaged in concurrent remote sessions. Guess what that does for your utilization? That’s right; you can achieve utilization increases that are simply unattainable through onsite support. Now let’s be clear-not all issues can and will be resolved remotely. But let’s just say that approximately 80%, or more, of your clients’ issues can be. In short, you could net significant cost savings to your bottom line.

Hold on-I’m not done exploring many of the other benefits of remote support, though you may already be way ahead of me. As we discovered above, you can now support many clients with the same amount of (or even less) staff. And just imagine the time you’ll save by not hiring, training, or managing excess staff, which can mean more dollars added to your bottom line. Further, through the implementation of a documented help desk SLA and escalation procedure (one that is consistently delivered by all technicians) you can establish standards to help reduce some clients’ propensity to request a specific technician to support them, which in turn can prevent a billing bottleneck that can occur once your clients grow accustomed to using the next available technician rather than their favorite technician.

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