What is Managed IT?

Businesses are increasingly turning to external managed IT services providers for everything from emails to archiving to ERP. There has been considerable momentum or growth in the managed services segment, however, deciding when and where to outsource is not straightforward. For a number of reasons and a number of years, organizations have been making the decision to rely on external managed IT services providers. Today, an unprecedented move to IT outsourcing is occurring.Now organizations find themselves competing in an application economy, an environment in which technological innovation and agility continue to grow in strategic importance.

IT service providers can be invaluable in helping organizations gain the advanced technical capabilities and it helps them compete more effectively. However, that doesn’t mean this decision is a simple one. Determining when, how and whom to outsource are significant decisions that can have long-term ramifications.

Today, businesses can take virtually any on premise, internally sourced IT service that they rely on and pass on its development, management and hosting over to an external provider. While the benefits of moving an IT service to an external service provider can be great, so can be the cost, if the relationship fails.

Lost time, money and customers are all possible scenarios. At most organizations, the mix of IT services that are externally or internally managed is under continuous evaluation and reassessment. Ultimately, before the decision to outsource is made, organizations need to move past the hype and take an objective look at their resources, needs and goals. For executives contemplating outsourcing IT services, there are some key considerations to make as they formulate an outsourcing strategy. They need to gain a high-level, cohesive view of the business and IT landscape, and the opportunities available for outsourcing. It is also important look at the services the internal IT group provides to the company.

While it may be challenging to look past existing departments, reporting structures and roles, starting with a business view of IT services provides an invaluable perspective on the ways IT is supporting the company. Next, organizations need to assess the strategic value of IT services. Some may effectively be a utility for the company, others may play a significant role in the extent to which the business can gain competitive differentiation.

Looking at services in this way can help decision makers, segment those services that could potentially be outsourced and those that need to remain internally sourced. When businesses look to outsource some of their technology hosting and administration to an external managed IT services provider, they do so with an expectation of significant operational and financial benefits. The extent to which those benefits are realized however, is largely dictated by the people and capabilities of the managed IT services provider they choose.

A managed IT services provider’s service catalog can say a lot about the vendor, and it’s a great first step in assessing whether a vendor is a good fit. First, and most obviously, you have to make sure that the services outlined are a good fit for the IT service you’re looking to outsource. Next, the service catalog can provide a lot of insights into how formalized their service offerings are. For example, they should provide clear delineations as to what services and capabilities are provided. If different tiers are provided, it should be clear what you pay and what you get as you move up each tier.