ver the past few decades, IT outsourcing providers have developed new technologies to monitor client networks and resolve issues that cause downtime and interruptions in productivity. Although the systems for proactive monitoring exist, not all IT outsourcing companies include these methods in their service offerings. There are anywhere from 80 to 120 thousand IT services providers in North America and a large portion of these companies still employ a break-fix approach to managing their clients’ IT infrastructures. Your business should be aware of the difference between a proactive IT outsourcing provider and an ad-hoc IT provider when making the decision as to which IT service model best suits your business needs.
“What I consider proactive service is a dedication to keeping our client systems up and running with a focus on up-time instead of repair, as well as what we’re doing as an MSP to achieve that goal.”—David Schafran (President at Transformation Strategies)
How is a proactive IT outsourcing provider different?
The general definition of proactive service has evolved with the progression of IT innovations. However, the ongoing theme among MSPs has been to maximize a client’s up-time, thus increasing the client’s business productivity and promoting growth.
A proactive IT outsourcing provider should incorporate three key elements into its service offerings: remote monitoring, proactive planning, and thought leadership. An effective MSP will have a network operations center (NOC) which will remotely evaluate your business’s network 24/7/365 to identify and address issues before they reach the crisis stage. In addition, the MSP should implement continuous patching, updates, and upgrades within your IT infrastructure to ensure systems remain operating at their full capacity.
Most likely, you perform regular maintenance and checkups on everything from your vehicle to your personal health. Regular evaluations are necessary to the continued function and well-being of such systems, just as they are for your IT environment. For example, if your disk space suddenly reaches capacity and you have no alarms in place to warn it was close to being full, your business could suffer from a server crash and hours of consequential downtime during which your organization and its employees are at a standstill. The technologies managed IT services providers employ to serve as a preventative measure to protect the health of your IT infrastructure and promote an uninterrupted end-user experience.
Monitoring and remote technology are imperative for the MSP to successfully maintain the health of your network, but proactive IT planning is necessary when working to align your IT with your business goals. A proactive IT outsourcing provider will develop an IT strategy that serves your business now, and in the future, and will work with executives from your organization to glean a thorough understanding of the unique aspects of your business.
The MSP should engage in scheduled business reviews with your organization where the provider elicits information regarding what’s happening within your company, as well as your goals for the next one to two years. This preparation may seem unnecessary at first, but consider the unexpected problems and expenses that could occur if the IT outsourcing provider is unaware of your firm’s plans.
If your business decides to add 15 new people, a new branch, or a new application, and your IT provider is not informed of these decisions, you could encounter server space issues or technology expenses that begin to inhibit the growth you’re trying to achieve. The MSP will be unable to suggest new solutions and strategies because they simply lack the information to do so.
If the managed IT services provider is aware of such plans, its team can construct an IT strategy and budget to facilitate these ideas and prevent unexpected IT expenses that could deter your business from achieving its goals.
The final element of a proactive IT outsourcing provider is thought leadership. This is a form of strategic planning that extends beyond the internal operations of your business and into the market of technology innovations your company likely does not have time to consider. A reputable MSP will have access to the latest technology solutions and will be capable of recognizing how these tools could enhance your IT environment. An effective managed IT services provider will suggest solutions and improvements before your business is aware these changes are needed.
What’s the alternative to a proactive IT outsourcing provider?
Break-fix, or ad-hoc, IT solutions were the predecessors to proactive services, but a large number of IT services providers still utilize this method when serving their clients and this model remains the next-in-line option to managed IT services. A majority of MSPs charge a monthly, flat-fee in which all services, except projects, are included. The ad-hoc hourly billing model may appear the less expensive option upon first glance, but when the hours of downtime, unexpected equipment fees, and the IT provider’s service charges are taken into account, these expenditures can be equal to or greater than the cost of an MSP.
A break-fix IT provider will respond to problems as they occur and will lack the knowledge of your company’s IT history necessary to address the issue swiftly and effectively. In contrast, a managed service provider will be well versed in your business’s IT infrastructure and will likely have identified and resolved the concern before your organization was aware it was a threat.
How will proactive IT outsourcing providers change in the future?
The evolution of cloud technologies is quickly reshaping the kind of strategies implemented to maintain proactive monitoring. IT outsourcing providers have a new responsibility that extends beyond overseeing client-owned systems to managing and evaluating the performance of client used systems. The MSP will be required to scan your business’s hosted solutions and evaluate how they function and interact with other cloud applications utilized within your organization. For example, the managed services provider may run a synthetic transaction test to test the flow and speed of data transmissions between hosted solutions to proactively determine if there’s a potential threat to your company’s network.
Aldridge incorporates proactive monitoring and strategic planning into our service offerings to guarantee our clients are receiving premium IT support. Our IT outsourcing and managed services can help improve your IT infrastructure.