In today’s modern, fast-paced world, information technology is responsible for far more than troubleshooting and hardware procurement. Instead, IT is recognized as a strategic and critical contributor to business success—driving innovation and digital transformation that supports the entire organization to work smarter, better service customers, and effectively manage resources.
In spite of this, technology is ever-evolving at a heightened pace—and IT teams are more challenged than ever to keep up. Many small to mid-sized organizations [and even enterprises at times] lack the internal resources necessary to support end users and everyday maintenance while also driving innovation. The design, deployment and support of new technologies can be burdensome, but it’s absolutely critical for business success. So what can IT leaders do?
Enter IT outsourcing. Hiring third-party support is not uncommon for corporate IT teams today—it can help teams manage the day-to-day, or help them pursue those ambitious, big-picture projects that can’t fully be handled in-house. In general, IT service providers are typically hired to deliver either Managed Services or Professional Services. While the two are closely related, they have some critical differences. Let’s dive in.
IT Managed Services
Put simply, IT Managed Services is a packaged offering from your IT service provider that includes ongoing support services based on your organization’s unique needs. Within your Managed Services package, you might have several facets of IT under management including your information security, cloud infrastructure, network monitoring and maintenance, device management and more.
Benefits of IT Managed Services
24/7 monitoring — Is your IT team out at a conference or away on vacation? With a Managed Services contract in place, there’s no need to fret. Many service providers offer round the clock monitoring of critical systems to ensure your business stays up and running at all times. With service level agreements (SLAs) in place, you can rest assured issues will be responded to in a timely fashion.
Budget and resource friendly — For organizations with limited resources and in-house expertise, hiring a Managed Services Provider (MSP) can be more cost effective than hiring more full time staff. Plus, you’ll gain access to a larger skillset and broader resources by hiring a team versus an in-house resource.
Enables your IT team — With time-consuming tasks like everyday maintenance and support tickets handled by a MSP, your IT team becomes freed up to work on strategic and innovative projects that drive business success and fuel their passion.
IT Professional Services
In contrast to Managed Services [your ongoing support], Professional Services are typically more consultative or project-based engagements designed to help your organization with a specific challenge. Often, businesses enter a professional services engagement when they’re undertaking a significant project that they lack the internal resources or expertise to complete in house.
Benefits of IT Professional Services
Access to expertise — For projects that require highly specialized knowledge of certain technologies or processes, it’s much easier to engage with a team of specialists than it is to try to navigate the project in-house. Some service providers will even source and hire niche resources to meet your project’s needs, so you don’t have to.
Clear scope — Professional services engagements typically come with a defined scope of work, detailed project timelines and a budgetary estimate. These details will allow you to plan and prepare for spend, internal resource allocation, and internal change initiatives that might be necessary alongside your project.
One-and-done — Because these engagements are consultative and project-based in nature, you won’t find yourself locked into long-term contracts or monthly payments.
How to Select an IT Service Provider
If the decision to outsource sounds easy—well, it is. The hard part is finding a service provider that can check all your boxes and deliver great service and value. Here are some things to look out for when you’re searching for a new IT partner.
- Budget — Always ask for estimates and beware of inflated rates.
- Testimonials — Existing customers are the greatest proof of credibility. Read them!
- Experience — Get to know the team and what their in-house capabilities are.
- Needs — Do their service offerings align with your organization’s unique needs?
- Ask for Opinions — When in doubt, use your network for recommendations.
Professional Services vs. Managed Services
To sum it all up, the core differences between IT managed services and professional services lie in how the service is delivered. With managed services, it’s on an ongoing basis [like a monthly retainer over a long term contract] and with professional services, support is delivered in a project-based format that’s time bound and typically incurs a one-time cost.
There are times when organizations could benefit from both service models. With this in mind, try choosing a service provider that’s willing and able to meet both needs. At IX Solutions, we meet organizations where they are to provide professional and managed IT services that custom fit their business goals. If you’re in need of IT support and are looking for a reliable and reputable partner, reach out to our team today.