Intend to move to Managed Service Partner-as an IT Leader are You Prepared??

By Sathya Narayana K R, Service Introduction Lead- Cargill Business Services, Cargill

During the yearly IT budget allocation discussion with the management, one request has always been to cut down costs and bring efficiency in IT. Management wants to minimize any Capital Investment on IT and the Operating Expenditure has to decrease as they want to focus the IT resources on strategy for business growth. After streamlining the internal processes and pressing out the maximum from the service providers, the final option available for you is to move to the Managed Service Partner (MSP).

You have read umpteen number of articles on the benefits of moving to a Managed Service Model and there have been business cases wherein it has been proven that changing to managed service model will save recurring costs by at least 25 percent and bring up operational efficiency by about 50 percent. These numbers are achievable only with huge responsibility on your shoulders. Are you ready to take the plunge??

Enormous preparation is required to take this plunge to MSP and it can take from a few months to a year to lay the foundation for a smooth transition. For the sake of convenience, let us assume that you are moving only IT Infrastructure to the MSP as the first step towards the strategic roadmap for IT. Before you start taking this first step, sit back and give a thought on the below aspects and come to a stringent plan for each of them.

My People

Your IT team mates are the ones having to undergo a humongous change with this decision to move to MSP. Have a discussion with each individual in your team with candor, so that the ambiguity is cleared before taking the jump. It is your responsibility to clear the air and also inform them about the change in their roles and responsibilities due to this change and how they are moving from a doer to a strategic thinker or management role. If the situation demands for slimming your team size, provide career guidance and also look for a role of interest for them at the MSP.

IT Support Process Standardization

It is always critical to assess the existing IT support process and standardize them before the move to a MSP. Doing a reality check to see what percentage of the IT support requests are being acknowledged by Tap the shoulder approach, your primary motive is to change your customer’s mindset from a ‘physical IT support person’ to a ‘virtual IT support resource’. First step towards achieving this would be to implement an IT support mailbox or a cloud based ticketing tool (if it is not implemented yet and the cost is justifiable) or even a simple IT hardware purchasing process.

Readiness Check

You need to check your customers' and the management readiness for this change by driving a small change initiative wherein all the stake holders are impacted. By doing this you will be able to assess the readiness of the stakeholders to change and will be able to pick the ambassadors who are for this change and can support you for the bigger transformation that is coming soon.

Vendor Management & License agreements

As all the vendors and licenses for the IT devices will be handled by the MSP going forward, you need to make sure that all the documentation is intact with an inventory of all the licenses purchased. Updating all the vendor’s database with the contact details of the responsible person in your team will have a single point of contact for your vendors and will be a switch to the MSP paging numbers and support mailbox.

Hardware Inventory

With the move to MSP; you are not physically moving the assets but, the responsibility to manage all your IT assets are transferred to the MSP. You need to do a stock check of the IT inventory – active and standby devices well in advance. You also need to make sure that all the hardware including user computers are within the warranty period as MSP doesn’t hold the responsibility to support warranty expired devices and life cycling of these devices is a precondition.

IT Hardware Harmonization

Having a harmonized IT hardware across organization is one of the prerequisites before moving to a MSP. This includes all the IT devices on the network, printers, data center and last but not the least user computers. Having an array of devices from different manufactures and models will become a bottleneck in resolving the issues by the MSP.

Compliance & Security

Audit if the access to the data center is restricted and has access control and CCTV cameras installed. Also, check if the SSID of all the wireless devices are disabled, guest account on all the servers are disabled, Default admin accounts are disabled on all the hardware, Access to all devices is through a user name and a password which adheres to password complexity standards and All process and shared ID’s are documented and credentials are stored in a safe.

Way Ahead

These are some of the high level readiness activities that needs to be completed before onboarding an MSP to have a smooth and faster transition which will also make help in stabilizing the support after the change. These activities will be a good starting point and will lead to many more activities to be completed before making the move. The next step to move your applications to the MSP will be a more complex exercise as most of the infrastructure setup is fairly standardized and the uniqueness of an organization lies in the way its applications are developed and configured. 

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