It seems every firm in our space is promoting “Managed Services”, including First Service. It also seems to mean something different to every firm.
I attended a 3 day training session in Montreal in 2006 to learn about managed services. Most sessions involved how we should re-focus our business model to have this capability as our core deliverable. If we didn’t change, we would become uncompetitive. This model had two aspects. First, installing monitoring and remote control software on client networks. Second, charging a fixed monthly fee for maintaining the software, it’s alerts, and associated telephone calls. Before this seminar and continuing now, we have monitoring and remote control capability, but we have always offered them as tools without the requirement of a fixed monthly billing.
I see several difficulties with “Managed Services” as predominantly offered by others as a fixed monthly fee.
1. The fixed fee requires the scope of work be defined narrowly to create a low price. That leaves many areas of general support unaddressed.
2. The offsite only capability tends to force a solution / answer to a problem rather than fully address the concern. Sometimes you must go on site. Often it is best to go onsite.
3. Over time, an offsite only approach loses touch with the customer’s needs. Technology enables people to work together best, and that applies to the technology support provider too. If your IT vendor only sees your computers and not your users, they are out of touch with your needs.
Monitoring and Remote Control are fantastic technologies that save our customers expense and allow us a more proactive approach. When they are combined with a team of experienced engineers, managed services begins to show value to the consumer. As it happens, we have been in the business of providing technical support for 20 years and we happen to have a team of knowledgeable engineers with a ton of experience. The moral of the story is, no matter who maintains your technology, make sure that they have the requisite staff to provide your business with an appropriate level of support.