By: Brian DeVault

Businesses evaluating engaging a Managed IT Service Provider should carefully define their needs and requirements in order to achieve the desired business outcomes.

With the challenges that have come from the Global Pandemic, many companies have decided to outsource Managed IT Services. We have continued to see digital adoption across many areas of business, even before COVID-19.

Many companies are exploring outsourcing various aspects of their IT organizations – whether that be some parts of it or in its entirety. A recent survey conducted by TSIA found that 76% of Managed Service Provider respondents indicated that the Global Pandemic has accelerated demand for Managed IT Services.  According to Jeff Connolly, Senior Director of Managed Services Research for TSIA, “customers are looking for solutions that are subscription-based, scalable, reliable, and expertly managed, to help them focus on their core business.” 

Indeed, recent data has shown that we have catapulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks. On this week’s episode of Whiteboard Wednesday, Brian and Mike discuss what the journey looks like when determining if aend user customer and enterprise is ripe for taking advantage of Managed IT.   

The Strategic Direction of Managed IT Service

The journey starts at a high-level when looking at the strategic direction an organization would like to take. In many cases, that conversation is around the demands on the executive leadership in IT. As a result, we are seeing more and more, executive leadership trying to shift and be more strategically focused on what helps them grow the business or enable the business from a technology perspectiverather than supporting desktops and end users and devices across the landscape of the network. The strategic direction is really what drives the conversation and allows Managed IT Providers to nail down the right course of action.  

Defining the Right Requirements for the Business As It Relates To IT Managed Services

Additionally, once a business has determined that it strategically makes sense to outsource some aspect of the management of IT functions, defining the right requirements is a critical next step.  From there, this perspective of the MSP, it is critical to properly qualify, evaluate and assess if the client’s needs are the right fit for their business to effectively support. Done correctly, this process should work well for both parties – the MSP helps their client properly define their needs while defining the engagement.  During the process, both parties will gain a good view of what the organization looks like on paper. 

This includes questions like: 

  • How many branch offices does the organization have? 
  • How many employees does the organization have?  
  • What types of applications are you consuming? 
  • Where are those applications that are consumed hosted? 
  • Are they in the cloud? Are they on prem? 
  • What line of business applications are at play? 
  • How is the organization running its business? 
  • Sales and CRM
  • Order Fulfillment or Service Fulfillment  

Moreover, all of these questions will affect what the end user’s computing environment might look and feel like. The corporation may not be allowed to use the technology like a VPN and they may require a VDI or some type of secure hosting environment. From there, we need to understand kind of technology that is being used on a daily basis to gain a visual representation of that.

Those questions include: 

  • What does the network topology look like?  
  • What are the plans for changes or evolution of that technology through digital transformation? 
  • How is the organization currently consuming technology that helps them conduct business?  

Furthermore, everything from the edge of the network, all the way to the desktop and the end user, and the productivity users are doing. At NETRIO, we have seen it be very common that the organization does not have a complete set of documentation, which is where we can add value. Outsourcing managed IT solutions forces the organization to go through that process of documenting what’s in place and make strategic decisions about why those systems are the way they are and where they want them to be future state. 

Consequently, this is one of the areas that NETRIO always finds deficiencies inno matter how buttoned up an organization is. This is a hugely important step to an organization’s security posture for user onboarding and offboarding. There are tiers of permissions within applications. For security reasons, this step is crucial and one that needs to be done correctly. It’s an important aspect for offboarding, because you want to make sure that you close all those security holes that you opened during the onboarding process, to keep the organization’s security tightened up.  

Patch Management and Managed IT Service

Next, patch management is the biggest outlier and organizations don’t normally have someone dedicated to this role. Usually, It’s a shared responsibility among multiple people. The process of updating operating systems and third-party software is not perfect on its ownso you really need to have some type of a software asset inventory tool that allows you to go out once you’ve deployed patches and verify that the patch has deployed.  

This is one of the biggest differentiators that sets NETRIO apart. After we run our maintenance windows for patching the following day, we have our engineering team pull a patch evaluation report, and that goes out and assesses how successful that patch process was. This allows us to go back and make corrections for any systems that were missed or maybe offline. We make arrangements to get those systems up to the current patch levels and revisions as part of that process. From a security posture, the onboarding and offboarding takes care of a lot of the gaps that we see.  

NETRIO’s Advantage

At NETRIO, we have a tool we use when we enter into engagement that provides a network and security assessment against the client’s environment. Essentially, this goes in and interrogates your directory service and provides a list of all the user accounts, all the security groups, and all of the systems. In some cases, you see passwords that are set to never expire. This can cause security problems long-term. It is important to have a good password policy in place. This requires passwords to expire frequently and have complexities. In a well-managed IT organization, these practices are buttoned up. NETRIO as a Managed IT Provider can help your organization fine-tune all of these processes to set you up for success.