Using an IT Managed Service has traditionally been regarded as an option available to large organisations but technology is evolving and having a company manage your IT needs is much more common place for businesses of all sizes.
The world at large is wrapped up in a recession and while, comparatively, everything seems rosy in Australia, the reality is that small and medium businesses (SMBs) are feeling the pinch. According to latest Small Business Survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) general business conditions in the small business sector continued to deteriorate in the June quarter and are expected to deteriorate further in the September quarter.
SMBs are critical players in the Australian financial landscape. The Australian Bureau of Economics reports that of the 2.1 million actively trading businesses in Australia in 2010-11, most (93.5%) were micro businesses (non-employing or between 1-4 employees).
But while they might be the back bone of the Australian economy, many SMBs are in a position where they need to seek alternative ways to cut costs to stay afloat.
Using an IT Managed Service has traditionally been regarded as an option available to large organisations. Technology is rapidly evolving and so today having a company to manage your IT needs is much more common place for businesses of all sizes. Fast growing businesses see the opportunity that working with technology consultants can deliver in terms of saving money and matching the performance of much larger companies. In doing so they are reaping the rewards.
But what exactly does Managed Service IT mean; how should you go about selecting the right supplier and what business value will it deliver? If you’re an SMB finding it difficult to manage your IT needs then hopefully the following pointers will shed light on what Managed Service IT might be able to do for you.
Managed Service IT in a nutshell
Managed Service IT is basically outsourced IT. Rather than having your own in-house IT person or team, you use an external provider to handle all of your needs. For SMBs, the benefits include accessing expertise and knowledge on the latest technologies, which ones to use and how they can deliver the very best value for your business.
Choosing the right supplier
There are three golden rules to remember when looking to engage the right Managed Services IT provider:
1. Do your homework. Be clear on your business objective and agree from the outset what measurement criteria or Service Level Agreements (SLAs) you are going to put in place and what the guaranteed outcomes will be.
2. Speak to customers who are working with the supplier. Are they happy? What value is being delivered? Have there been any issues and if so, how have they been resolved?
3. Agree what your budget is and make sure that your costs are fixed. That way you can budget each month with peace of mind.
SLAs – getting the right ones in place from the start
Agreeing deliverables and measuring performance enables you to understand the return on investment your business is receiving from ITS IT spend. Work in partnership with your consultancy to create a clear and concise overview of what will be delivered within the agreed budget.
Accessing new technologies
While it’s important for SMBs to keep themselves up-to-date with new technologies, it’s often difficult to access the skills required to implement them. Through a managed service you’re paying for that expertise. Plus they will have access to hundreds of companies offering a range of new and proven technologies which they can recommend, without bias, to ensure you get the very best solution possible.
Business value and cost savings
Working with a Managed Service IT provider delivers many benefits. It’s a low risk arrangement that has an easy entry and exit. A flexible arrangement, you can come and go as you please. Working with a partner gives you access to many new and exciting technologies that might otherwise have been out of reach. By consulting with a managed services provider you may discover areas of your business which can be improved that you had previously thought were working well. Add to that guaranteed outcomes, the ability to offload the IT management of your business to a team of experts who can solve complex technological problems, and peace of mind over compliance issues, and you can quickly see why the decision to outsource is becoming more popular amongst SMBs.