What is “Managed Services”?

Managed Services is one of those things that IT People know about as a title but most don’t really spend the time to really grasp. Chances are, you are probably fairly competent in working with computers. Perhaps you are skilled in fixing broken machines, setting up networks, and/or security and business continuity. Managed services kind of encompasses all of those things. But it isn’t so much about the IT skills, it is about the job description.

The key is the word “Managed”. Most people in IT operate on a reactive basis. They wait for the customer to display a need and then they deploy a solution for that need. Or they are waiting for something to break and then they fix the broken thing.

In a “Managed” environment, the story flips on its head. A “Managed” service provider is proactive. They deploy a solution before the client asks (with permission, of course). They proactively ensure that the client is getting the service they NEED without having to ask for it.

Managed Service Providers put a ton of effort into monitoring and filtering alerts in order to get a grasp on what is happening on a client’s network BEFORE the client is aware there may be any problems.

This changes your relationship with your client. You are no longer a blue collar worker for your clients. They don’t call you to fix a broken toilet computer. You graduate to the role of CTO. The relationship becomes a lot different because the flow of commands tends to change directions. Instead of the client telling you what they want, you tell them what you want them to do. This sets you up for a position of strength both in negotiations for IT infrastructure changes and upgrades, and also for ensuring the well-being of your client.

So why put so much effort into being proactive? Well, for an IT company there are two primary benefits. As already mentioned, the flow of authority tends to change direction. This can have a pretty significant impact on your sanity! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that one of the worst things in IT is an unhappy client.

Unhappy clients are almost like children. They basically whine and complain until you get them the latest shiny thing that they think they need. It may or may not solve the problem they are really having, but when they are paying you hourly for work you really don’t have a lot of negotiation power to refocus their efforts on what matters. But when you switch to Managed Services and the flow of authority changes directions and you ASSUME responsibility for the health of their IT infrastructure. Then you get to experience a lot more power for setting the tone of their Network and what happens on it.

So as long as you do your job well, you’ll have fewer complaints.

The second primary benefit to becoming a Managed Service Provider is financial. Managed Service Providers are usually paid a flat monthly rate for their services. This rate is often significantly higher than you’d make if you were paid hourly for break/fix work. While the dollar amounts may not necessarily be all that different on the surface, the work load involved in delivering managed services can change drastically. If you are doing your job well through automation and strong process management, then you will see a bigger bang for your buck. You’ll be able to hire and build out a real business if you are being paid a recurring charge, as well, instead of dealing with the large occasional sums that come from consulting based work.

Instead of being paid to fix problems, you become paid to prevent them. This is a much healthier relationship between you and your clients. You won’t be the herald of bad news anymore. Your clients will learn to appreciate this difference because the interactions they have with you won’t be when things go horribly wrong. Instead they’ll be working with you to ensure their network and everything on it is properly maintained, backed up, and running smooth.

Managed Services is not REALLY about IT at all. It is about flipping the script on IT Service Delivery. You become part of your client’s company strategy and help them to reach their goals by keeping things running smooth and avoiding IT Disasters before they happen.