Managed services?

There’s a new phrase slowly rumbling through the computer support industry in Australia – managed services.  It’s being helped along by companies like Kaseya, who are trying to convince every one-man-band computer guy that they can earn truckloads by using the Kaseya product.  Problem is, your technology tool of choice is only one small piece of the puzzle to make you a successful managed service provider (MSP).  So, we now have another ‘book & webinar’ spawning industry, trying to each people the secrets of being an MSP, structuring contracts, pitching to customers etc etc.

And, if customers are confused now about choosing between computer support providers, wait until managed services hit them en masse.  Wikipedia translates the concept into “the practice of transferring day-to-day related management responsibility as a strategic method for improved effective and efficient operations”, and in the information services area it lists backups, storage, network, user and systems management.  However, nobody has told the service providers what the standard definition should be, so we’ve all made up our own variations.  Backup management may or may not be included, ‘request’ tasks (like adding new users) may or may not be included, support may be unlimited or still on the clock with a pool of pre-paid hours like traditional support contracts.  What a mess.

So, here are a few tips if your computer guys calls all enthusiatically about this new ‘managed services’ stuff he’s doing:

– Check the fine print and know what is/isn’t included

– Make sure that backup management is covered, unless you are prepared to monitor your own backup results daily and perform test restorations weekly

– See if you are getting a good deal re the included support time or results

– See who he has to back him up if you are on this fantastic plan and his wife gets sick or he wants to take a holiday

– Make sure you get some sort of a regular report that proves they are actually doing something for your money, cause with remote capabilities you may not see them onsite as much

Managed services should be all about preventing problems from happening in the first place, and letting your computer guy handle easy stuff that you don’t need to worry about.  If it doesn’t do that, then what’s the point.

If you are in I.T and are contemplating moving into managed services (especially in the small business market), good luck with putting together your offer, costings/pricing, advertising, sales pitches & marketing materials, operational processes etc etc.  Or you could just join a franchise 🙂



10 thoughts on “Managed services?

  1. Jeff, surprisingly most of our franchisees dont plan on building a huge money making empire, but enjoy the comraderie of being part of a group, both for technical and business support. Whilst we produce and distribute a ton of ‘canned’ material from head office, we have as much (if not more) material circulating that has been developed, tested and shared by franchisees themselves, and the flexibility to allow you to try anything on your own. I know franchising can be a dirty word though and there is definately a huge range of different styles of IT franchises. And absolutely, if you dont enjoy what you are doing, what’s the point 🙂

  2. I have a very similar take on the whole managed services business and just wrote a blog on the possible pit-falls affecting small computer shops and businesses in Southern California.

    But I have a slightly different view point concerning the franchising. I like to remain as independent as possible and do not plan to join a franchise. I may not become wealthy, but I still enjoy what I’m doing.

    Jeff Bales

  3. I understand your comment about home user-focussed franchises and yes, they do seem to be the majority. Computer Troubleshooters has a great niche spot for us ‘corporate refugees’ who feel comfortable dealing with businesses and want to own and run our own business too. There is more to small I.T shops that home PC virus cleanups, and a lot of potential in a business customer base that is not addressed by the big CBD-based IT crowds.

  4. Pingback: Computer Repair Saskatoon » Late breaking news

  5. We’re continually flummoxed by the stuff spewing forth from guys trying to sell Managed Services bloatware to every IT support company under the sun. We just don’t agree that it should be that complex – for both Managed Services provider and Managed Services consumer. I think the worst thing a support company can do in this area of emerging thinking is to dive in with both feet to a big bloated software package without really understanding the true requirements of the business model. Keeping the whole thing simple – including franchising – sounds good to us.

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