By now, I’m sure that everyone has heard the concept of ‘You get what you pay for’ right? Whether you are a full-fledged believer or you’re a skeptic, the concept that one ought to receive the full measure of the goods/services that they pay for is universally accepted. That is, of course, unless you’re resigned to receive less than what you pay for… then there may be other issues afoot.
I’m going to do my level best to provide you, the reader, with some unbiased observations in the context of this timeless adage and how it relates to Managed Services. Unbiased, you may ask? Heading up Service Delivery at TNS has afforded me a lot of introspection and helped me turn the spotlight inward. Hopefully this will allow me to deliver some unbiased observations on the matter.
If you’ve ever been on the hunt for a Managed Service Provider (MSP), then you know that the landscape is pretty broad. You’ve got everyone from the Mom & Pop shop to the monoliths of the industry like IBM. It boils down to one simple question, of which I will break down further by service below…
Are you getting what you’re paying for? If you’re paying for any of the services below, are they…
Help Desk: Are you entitled to a staffed Help Desk? Are they courteous and kind? Are they documenting your issues in a ticketing system, or just responding via email? How about remote support? Do they require you to go to a free service like Join.Me or require you to be at your computer to initiate the remote support? What about being available on less mainstream holidays like Good Friday (I’ve always assumed that, much like retail, a MSP would be open… but I’ve been wrong on this one)? Are they available 24/7?
Once those answers are determined you can start separating the wheat from the chaff.
Antivirus: Does your provider include Antivirus as part of their service? If so… great. But, what kind of Antivirus? All too often, MSP’s are bundling inexpensive Antivirus because it’s good for their bottom line. What this does, however, is provides you a false sense of security when it comes to viruses and malware. That reminds me… don’t assume that Antivirus means Antimalware. As an example Symantec Endpoint Protection, specifically SEP.Cloud, provides ample coverage against viruses and has a great malware component so that your bases are covered. Some providers bundle in what’s cheap like AVG instead of something that’s best of breed.
Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery: There is a distinction I’d like to make as it pertains to backups before I ask the question. There are two types of backups…
Managed Backups include monitored as part of a readiness procedure, errors are remediated as part of that readiness, and periodic testing is done to ensure the viability of the backups.
Unmanaged Backups are where backups occur but they are not monitored for success, errors are not remediated in a timely manner, and periodic testing is not done.
What about Disaster Recovery (DR)? Does your backup offering provide your company any semblance of DR? Has your DR ever been tested? Have you been given, or even offered, a DR plan?
With that said, is your MSP including Managed Backups and Disaster Recovery as part of your service?
Contract Management and Procurement: Does your MSP include managing renewals or procurement? It’s easy to say that new equipment purchases are included, but what about simple things like Domain names, SSL certificates, warranty contracts, and the like? Sometimes it’s the little things that make a relationship with a MSP important. The last thing you want, when navigating a new deal or business venture, is your email not working because a domain expired… or worse, got scooped up by someone.
Proactive Support: What about proactive support? Everyone speaks of proactive support, and some even offer it as part of their service… but does anyone have a team dedicated to it; laser focused on making sure that every aspect of your environment is more than just “OK”?
I have been working over the years to reinforce this concept, and hammer home the importance of proactivity vs. reactivity. It’s easy to sell a service that claims proactivity, but it’s very different than actually being proactive. Are your systems patched regularly? Is your environment being held to industry standards and best practices? What about your user accounts, are they clean and up to date? What about your user accounts, are they clean and up to date? What about your backend environment as it relates to policies? Stale computers lingering in your configuration?
Here’s my one shameless plug: TNS ForeSight is a department we’ve created dedicated to proactivity and safeguarding our clients to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency as it relates to standards and best practices. They do not report into Support or Implementation… so proactivity is not compromised by external influences.
Summary: If you’ve answered no to any of these, or are not clear on what you’re being provided as part of your service agreement, it might be time to take another look at that contract. In fact, you can contact The TNS Group and speak to one of our Account Managers about your IT needs and current situation. We may be able to help understand your current service contract, and make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for. I am very close to all of what I shared, and work hard to ensure that our service team is doing what we say we’re going to do, when we say we’re going to do it. If you have questions, feel free to call me directly at 203.316.0112 extension 113.