Crucial Components Of A Managed IT Services Contract
Brian DeVaultSo we'll stay out of the specifics of contracts and negotiation and all those things and just assume that we have a nice, clean contract to execute. Alright so what we're looking at inside of that contract execution is the number of assets. So as an IT organization, we want to understand the people functional, critical points of contact in the organization. We want to understand groups of people and what their specific needs are. So you may have HR in here, you may have finance, you may have sales operations, you know, the various functional areas of the business.
Brian DeVaultSo you've got individuals, members of groups, and then I'm treating them as human capital so they're assets, right. So then we've got desktops, laptops. You may have mobile. There could be an MDM, a mobile device management strategy around that. That's an asset that we might have to manage. So and then you've got SaaS software as a service. In many cases that's cloud based. And then we've got data center assets. So the various data center assets, servers, firewalls, those types of devices.
Brian DeVaultSo we'll say underneath here, we've got offices. So what are the various types of technology that we're going to support inside an office environment? So we've got WAPS wireless networks, we've got wired networks. Most of the time we have some telephony component in here. So you've got wired phones or wireless phones or conference room phones. We could have conference room equipment. So you know video walls, sound bars, all of those types of things. So all those assets can be in play right?
Brian DeVaultWe want to make sure that during this process, what we're getting is an accurate inventory for what we're going to support. And we've got various tools that can help us do that so we can scan networks and come back with you know lists of devices that we can identify. A lot of times that helps us fill gaps. You know we'll go out and scan a network and we'll find, hey there's 14 multifunction copy machine biz hub devices that we found on the network that we didn't know anything about.
Brian DeVaultMake sure that we're set up to properly support those when end users have a problem printing or scanning or copying those types.
Mike CromwellAnd I'm curious when you do the discovery qualification, defining the requirements before you get to the contract, the things you've just illustrated here on the board, what do you think the percentage is in terms of what the I.T. organization thinks they have in inventory is defined as assets versus what you find after you've completed the audit?
Brian DeVaultProbably something like 80, 20, like they know about 80 percent of it and once we're completed, it's one hundred.
Mike CromwellSo if you get 20 percent that you don't know, what's the risk in having assets that you don't...
Brian DeVaultIt's huge because what's going to happen is once we get to the end of this process, we want to be in what we call a supportable state. And what happens if you have an asset that's unidentified on the network, then you don't know how to support it. So an end user calls in with a problem related to that specific asset or a process or something that lies within the scope of responsibility for that asset and you have no way to support it.
Brian DeVaultSo that's a big risk factor when you're onboarding, because keeping the user's confidence in your helpdesk's ability to solve their problems, especially at the very beginning of the engagement, is very important. The minute they call in and they're used to talking to Greg at their helpdesk, that could help them with any problem they ever had because he knew their landscape front and back. He installed that business copy machine when it came in the door. Right? But he forgot to tell you about it or he's not there anymore.
Brian DeVaultRight? So that becomes a problem from a service delivery perspective because the confidence that the end user has in your ability to solve their problems just completely...
Mike CromwellSo It's a satisfaction time. But it's also going to be because I can imagine if Netrio is taking a call and the assets not identified that call's going to take longer to handle follow ups into the business to really find that it's a really big piece for customer satisfaction. But what it's also the kind of the pull through effect of using this process as a catchall, because I can imagine if you don't know it's an inventory that's probably also a network risk for security attacks.
Brian DeVaultFor sure. Absolutely.
Brian DeVaultAnd a lot of times these devices that are outliers that I.T. Is not aware of or maybe not managing it, because a lot of times they'll say, oh, well, that's done through a printing company and they've supplied all the consumables for it and they just drop the thing off and we lease it. And it's not our concern. Well, guess what? That box has a Web server running on it, and that Web server is vulnerable to the same type of vulnerabilities that all Web servers are vulnerable to.
Brian DeVaultSo if you're not patching that device and you're not changing the default password on it and doing all the things that you need to do to maintain it's security, then that's essentially an open it's a wormhole on your network that's waiting to be exploited. And so you've got to make sure that you know about all those things. Same thing when it comes to servers, a server that was sitting in the top of a closet that nobody knew about, that hadn't been patched in eight years, but had been sitting there running on the network.
Brian DeVaultAnd so you've got to find that stuff. You had to pick it out of the crevices of the the wiring closet or wherever it may be, and get it into your list of assets that supported. I will tell you that that 80 20 rule applies to these contracts as well. Most of the time when we see a contract come in from sales and our sales process has engineering involved. And so there's a lot of it that we're vetting. But we always tell customers, look, the first thing we're going to do is come in and do an audit on the network environment and we're going to turn up additional items here that aren't represented in the original contract, so it always ends up being a more thorough list once this process is complete.
Mike CromwellIs there anything else, by the way, in the assets that you're that you're looking for?
Brian DeVaultSo this is to be clear here, we've got offices here. We may have multiple branch offices. Right. So you could have that. You could have meshes.
Brian DeVaultYou could have a lot of network elements in here that are all involved as we weigh those types of products. So we'll just say this is a general list and then we'll move forward.
The time has come to outsource your IT services to a managed services provider. You are in good company! Over the past five years, the MSP market has almost doubled in value from 2014, rising from $107 billion to $193 billion today.
Before you can hit the ground running though, there are many things you need to consider when the contract is being crafted and executed. At NETRIO, we offer a variety of Managed Services. Therefore, contract execution for each service may vary. A successful IT infrastructure depends on the list of services you choose for your business. During the initial stages of the partnership, the MSP should be able to audit your environment and make a recommendation based on its findings. Make sure to find the best MSP for you, not only in terms of pricing but also in overall communication. Additionally, vet each company’s offering and contract to see if it covers all your business needs to ensure the right fit.
Before The Managed IT Services Contract Execution
Furthermore, when selecting a service provider, it is important to ask in-depth questions. This will allow you to understand how that company’s infrastructure works and whether it will be a good fit for a partnership. This step is crucial, especially if you are vetting multiple companies.
Questions may include:
· What does a project kickoff call include?
· Signatures, terms, start dates, & subscriptions that you’re going to subscribe to from their various portfolio of services.
· How do they review and report?
· What is the process for establishing points of contact both internally and externally?
· How do they outline milestones and dependencies?
Once the MSP has answered the questions to your satisfaction, a contract will be drafted to make the partnership legally binding.
Contract Execution and Onboarding
The first step in successful onboarding of an MSP is getting the contract executed. This will include:
· Start Dates
· Scope of work
Inside The Managed IT Services Contract Execution
1. Number of Assets
As an IT organization, we want to understand the people’s functional and critical points of contact within the organization. It is imperative to understand groups of people and their specific needs within the organization and how it relates to our services. For example, you could have HR, finance, sales, operations, and the other various functional areas of the business. These people are considered human capital; therefore they are assets. In addition to people, we have various technologies. An in-depth scan needs to be done so we can understand as the service provider what we may be managing. We want to make sure that during this process, we are getting an accurate inventory for what we’re going to support. Thankfully, we have various tools that can help us do that.
2. Scan Networks
A full scan of the networks will be done, and it will compile a list of devices that we can identify. Many times, this helps us fill any gaps the organization may not be aware of. The goal at the end of this process is to get to what we like to call a supportable state. This step is very important in a new partnership because it will keep the user’s confidence in your help desk’s ability to solve their problems, especially at the very beginning.
3. Strategic Network Monitoring
NETRIO utilizes state of the art software and an expert support delivery team to employ a proactive approach towards managing your IT environment. The software provides real-time visibility into the status of critical IT assets so we can resolve problems before they become outages. Strategic means that we are aligned with your business requirements, predictable spending, lower costs, risk reduction, increased accountability, regulatory compliance. We want to help you accomplish your strategic goals.
4. Data Backup
When reviewing managed IT services contracts, knowing how your data will be backed up is crucial. If you have an on-premises solution and the service provider’s backup plan is to back everything up to the cloud, you should make sure the cloud is backed up on a private server. Public clouds are just as they sound and not nearly a secure as a private cloud.
5. Disaster Recovery Plan
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is to be ready for everything. All managed IT service providers should offer a disaster recovery plan. A complete location-dependent disaster recovery plan is something that should be included in the details of an IT service contract. Having peace of mind is so important when executing a managed IT contract. NETRIO has a backup NOC in Austin, Texas. This allows us to ensure we are able to quickly recover if an outage were to occur.
This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly White Board Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.
If you would like to discuss outsourcing your Managed IT Services to NETRIO, contact us to start the conversation.