Do your IT staff spend so much time focusing on functions like email hosting, customer relationship management (CRM) applications, backup, storage and network monitoring that they never have time for more strategic projects? If so, then it may be time to consider working with a managed service provider (MSP).

According to IT industry trade association CompTIA’s Fifth Annual Trends in Managed Services study, authored by CompTIA’s senior director of industry analysis, Carolyn April, companies are increasingly relying on external providers for many IT functions. Many organisations, she discovered, use MSPs to complement rather than replace their IT departments.

“It elevates the IT staff … and allows them to focus on a custom app dev project or cloud initiative – something highly strategic,” Ms April says. “Very few of these companies get rid of their IT staffs just because they join up with an MSP.”

Benefits and growth of MSPs

This complementary role demonstrates that the reason organisations enlist MSPs has changed from the past, when cost savings were regarded as the primary benefit. According to Ms April, companies are now focused on additional benefits, such as efficiency and generating revenue.

Organisations have even turned to MSPs for security, given security issues have often been the result of human error by internal employees.

According to the study, managed services currently comprise the second-most business model in the channel, with three in 10 MSPs ranking managed services as the leading revenue generator over the previous 12 months.

The survey found that the growth of managed services is continuing at a steady pace.

How to choose an MSP

If you think partnering with an MSP and freeing up your internal IT staff would benefit your company, Ms April offers advice on finding a partner that will match your needs. She suggests looking for:

  • An MSP that understands your business and doesn’t just talk about the technology. “You want a partner that can talk about business outcomes and how their services are going to further your goals from a business perspective, not a technology perspective,” she says.
  • A proven track record. Check they have worked successfully before with organisations with similar needs to yours, and can provide testimonials from existing companies. Ms April says to avoid MSPs offering ‘cookie-cutter’ service-level agreements (SLAs). If they want to create a customised contract based on your business requirements, that’s a good sign.

Advanced services

Ms April points out that many CIOs are now seeking out MSPs that can also deliver advanced services, such as cloud infrastructure management, application management and business process outsourcing. There is also increased demand for data analytics, business intelligence and advanced application monitoring.

Whatever your requirements from an MSP, though, the survey found that establishing a strong, strategic partnership is essential.

For further reading on the topic, check out this blog on the CIO website: