Before coming over to run managed services for an IT services provider, I was a director for managed services with an eDiscovery (“electronic discovery”) services provider. Interestingly enough, there are a lot of similarities between the two.
In eDiscovery, there were always bottlenecks between retrieving data for litigation, the processing of that data, storing it, reviewing it, and then producing it for discovery purposes. The constraints were almost always around the costs associated to perform each of these disparate but interconnected tasks. They wildly varied from vendor to vendor; and unfortunately, so did the skill set of each project manager notwithstanding marketing claims.
But with Managed Services, it allowed corporate legal departments and law firms of every single size to do something interesting – control the costs and control the throughput. The monthly annuity wasn’t just a budget saver, it was also a mechanism in which litigation technology professionals and lawyers knew where the data was and who was touching it at all times.
In IT, it really isn’t that much different…
Types of IT bottlenecks
- Staffing: are there enough people and the right people in place to make the IT landscape work effectively and efficiently? Are the people currently in place pulling all the right levers or would providing outside support both augment the work
- Hardware: are there the right PC’s, copiers, telephones, etc. in place?
- Storing the data: should the company use its own servers, the private cloud, or a hybrid?
- Backing up the data: should the company use commercial cloud software or a data center’s co-location?
- Protecting the data:
- Is there anti-virus and malware in place? Is it the right one and is it being updated?
- Do you have a the firewall? Is it the right one and is it being updated?
- Is Java updated?
- Have all of the relevant Windows’ security patches?
- Is there a Password Policy in place?
- Do you have an employee offboarding process in place?
- Is there a Change Management policy in place?
- Do you have compliance with each of the aforementioned policies?
- CapEx or OpEx: An important part of the equasion now is deciding how much of what is currently in the IT budget a capital expenditure and what can be converted to an operational expenditure to help drive increased operational efficiencies.
- Staying Up-to-Date: is the organization moving toward being part of the “digital transformation” or has the company decided that is that just another marketing buzz phrase?
The 3 key elements you need to know about to reduce IT bottlenecks
As with eDiscovery, controlling costs to handle any one of these disparate but highly interdependent tasks are a major concern; and while eDiscovery had 600 competing vendors, the IT space has 20,000 supposed Managed Services Providers. (Wow, I am very empathetic to every decision maker out there.)
To reduce these constraints and remove these IT bottlenecks, it is important to view the IT landscape at a company through the lens of 3 key elements:
- Capital and operational expenditures
The expenditures may perhaps be one of the more complex decisions a company makes in that there is a great divide as to whether to continually invest in capital expenditures (more servers, more backup devices, and newer PC’s) or move the IT landscape to an operational expense model (i.e., Microsoft Azure combined with O365). The inventory is all of the money your company is spending on operational expenses in order for your company to generate throughput (i.e, your services or products your company creates).
The bottlenecks in any IT organization can include, but is certainly not limited to, each of the bullet points listed above. If any one thing goes awry, then productivity is slowed and the business can’t produce its products and services. As one of my colleagues recently put it to me – if he’s not maintaining the hospital’s IT landscape, then they can’t save lives!
Work with the right providers
That’s why it’s critical to ensure organizations – both large and small – are working with the right providers to ensure a highly available, and always up-to-date environment. Without question, choosing the right provider is increasingly complex in a highly commoditized space such as IT Managed Services. It is highly important to understand whether that provider has:
- 24×7 Service Desk
- Consultative, proactive, and innovative Customer Service
- Service Desk professionals and Consultants who are proven veterans in this space
- Recognized as top partners by companies such as Microsoft
- Clearly defined Standard Operating Procedures and documentation
- Clearly defined escalation trees
- Conducts Monthly Environment Reviews, Quarterly Business Reviews, and Annual Reviews that are treated like employee performance reviews with appropriate goals, next action items, and milestones; and
- Innovative approaches to solving real business problems and always thinking about how to make your business highly productive without the bottlenecks
While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, it is definitely a great start to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaffe. Getting a highly performing environment take a lot of work. Answering the tough business questions is equally a lot of work. However, when we partner with the right Managed Services Provider and they act as a true extension of the organization’s IT team, amazing things can happen.
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If you’d like to learn more about the author, Daniel Gold, our managed services practice director, click HERE.