How Small Businesses Can Effectively Leverage Managed Service Providers
Gone are the days when small business owners consistently struggled with perennial problems of IT infrastructural development to support their operations. Thanks to managed services, such businesses are now exploring their previously untapped potential to challenge even the most established large corporations. Kick starting your business activities has never been this easy- and entrepreneurs all over the world are loving it!
Through the years, the adoption of managed services has grown tremendously, from 20% in 2010 to 50% in 2015. Some of the most popularly subscribed services (and their corresponding subscription rates among managed service users) include:
- 1% Managed Print
- 1% Video Surveillance/Hosted Cloud
- 2% Payment Processing
- 4% Mobile Device Management
- 4% Managed Communications
- 4% Office 365
- 4% Software-as-a-service
- 4% Hardware-as-a-service
- 6% Managed Network Security
- 8% Remote Monitoring Management
- 8% Backup and Disaster Recovery
This trend has significantly boosted the service providers, with 30% of them recording revenue increment of 25-100% over the last one year. With such promising returns, the industry is attracting more investors excited about supplying new and improved IT services to businesses. The ultimate beneficiaries are small businesses which progressively leverage such services to improve their operations and increase profitability.
So, how do they actually achieve this? What are the most fundamental stages to effectually leveraging the requisite services for business operation optimization?
Determine Your Goals
What do you intend to achieve through managed services? The strategies you implement in your business are principally dependent on the actual objectives you intend to achieve. You should consequently develop a comprehensive scheme of goals that you aim to achieve by leveraging managed services before embarking on other tasks.
Identify, document and rationalize each of the goals to ensure that they are achievable and at par with your organizational objectives. The eventual implementation plan should be strategized in stages for a smooth and measurable transition to all the services. Of course the core services should be implemented first to support the most critical business applications as you embark on the other less sensitive services.
Most managed service providers form partnerships and collectively deliver their services in single packages. A hardware-as-a-service vendor for instance, could sign a partnership contract with a software-as-a-vendor to form a comprehensive package which is more attractive to their target clientele. Most established service providers have already built up extensive networks of affiliates to improve their service delivery and strategically position themselves in the overwhelmingly competitive market.
As a business, taking advantage of such affiliates will save you a lot of resources by unlocking additional features, which would have otherwise come at increased subscription fees. It’s more economical and convenient subscribing to a cloud service provider who’s partnered with a reputable data security service provider, compared to settling for a cheaper one who’d force you to subsequently subscribe to a separate data security service provider. In most instances, the former option is usually way cheaper compared to the latter.
Streamline all Your Services
Since you are leveraging managed services primarily because of their convenience and cost efficiency, wasting time and resources organizing your services should be the last thing on your mind. Managed services are expected to free up your time and consequently grant you the peace of mind to focus on other more critical business issues. Many business owners, unfortunately, fail to achieve this due to haphazardly organized managed services. They subscribe to way too many services which gradually overwhelm them as they try to attend to them individually.
For optimal convenience, all your services should be streamlined and organized into one single channel. In most cases, this could mean that you subscribe to a single well-established vendor who in additional to the services, will also act as the main contact between you and his/her affiliates. If you had a problem with your cloud security for instance, you could contact your cloud service provider, who would subsequently take up the issue with his/her affiliate data security service provider.
Maintain Overall Control
In a bid to adopt managed services, many small business owners unknowingly lose the control of their enterprises to their respective vendors. Through the services they provide, vendors indirectly control many business entities through decisions they make concerning their services. A scheduled system maintenance procedure for instance, could disable some applications, consequently momentarily crippling business activities within the dependent enterprises.
To avoid this, you should subscribe to self-hosted services like the private cloud which grant you ultimate control over all your resources. Additionally, you ought to keenly assess the fine print before subscribing to any service to ascertain your subscriber privileges. A good subscription contract should assure you of confidentiality and zero third party interference with the normal business operations.
Develop Stable Disaster Management Plans
One of the primary benefit of subscribing to managed services is third party trouble-shooting and problem solving. Any error which develops within your system is be handled entirely by your vendors. Unfortunately, some problems may be too severe and therefore require your undivided attention, especially if you want to safeguard your business. A good example are data breaches, which still top the list of concerns among managed service subscribers.
Your ability to recover and bounce back into business depends on your disaster management plans. Without a stable one, you risk going out of business in case of a serious system failure. A bulk of the managed service providers acknowledge this and consequently provide their subscribers with good disaster management services like data back up and tracking. Keenly assess your provider’s disaster management policies and supplement them where necessary. If the backup facilities are insufficient for example, you could use your own physical drives to store copies of some of the most critical business data.
Additional strategies of the adaptation of managed services can be developed as you continue leveraging them. Your ultimate system of implementation depends on your individual services, vendors, subscriber privileges and business objectives.
Author: Davis Porter
Image Courtesy: bplanet, freedigitalphotos.net