Maintaining ICT operational control, quickening processes, and managing budget are all factors to ensuring your organisation can get the most out of your technology. Deciding whether a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or Shared Services (SS) better suits your organisation can prove difficult.

What is a shared services model? 

A combination of in-house and outsourced IT operations, Shared Services (SS) utilise both internal and external managed services.

SS incorporates both an internal IT team while also outsourcing other areas of IT support – providing a hybrid mix of the two. For example, an organisation may hire an advanced internal IT team that includes Systems Engineers, but then outsource smaller IT problems to a third-party provider to manage.

Benefits of SS are the cost-saving measures, the end-user experience and clearly defined levels of support. An SS model defines each level of support – L1, L2, L3- with deliverables, roles and responsibilities.

Some levels of support may be completed in-house, while other areas are outsourced. This model is very effective in freeing up staff members to do what they do best.

For example, an organisation may outsource a third party to provide a service that was previously held internally. SS will outsource in situations where there are inadequate internal resources.

While SS appears simple, in practice its a complicated area to execute. SS often involves complex planning and negotiations and in many cases, organisations can struggle to identify which services to share.

In mid-2018 the NSW Government opened up the conversation to guide local councils on how to identify, negotiate, plan and evaluate shared service agreements effectively.

Proper planning, delegation and finding the most appropriate provider remains to be the most common issues in a shared services model.

What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)? 

A specialist IT company, an MSP operates on a fully outsourced model.

They are a specialised IT company that can be hired to cover all IT functions. Outsourcing IT experts can be used to take care of an organisation’s entire IT environment, with the promise that an MSP team has the knowledge and experience to provide stronger IT solutions.

A core purpose of engaging an MSP is the access to unlimited IT support, for a fixed monthly fee. An MSP ensures an organisation can remain on top of its budget, only ever paying for what is used.

Identifying a clear set of outcomes and goals allows an MSP to tailor solutions that meet the specific needs of the organisation.

For example, an organisation may decide to outsource an MSP to build and operate its cloud environment.  As the relationship develops, the organisation may decide to also utilise data backup and disaster recovery and engage the MSP to help grow their solutions to include these elements.

The strength of an MSP is its ability to grow with the needs of an organisation. An MSP can think ahead and advise customers on tech updates that may be of benefit to them. In business, it remains crucial to continue looking ahead of growth and the tools needed to meet increasing demand.

Technology exists to quicken processes and provide easier workflows. Outsourcing to a third-party IT company achieves just this and as an organisation shifts its role to focus on what it does best and leaving technology to be managed by the experts.

What model is best for your organisation? 

Deciding to outsource an MSP is more cost-effective than hiring resources or purchasing technology that may not be the best fit for an organisation. An MSP provides accountability and takes the pressure off relying on an in-house team to run your IT environment.

When choosing an MSP there are a few main factors to consider:

  • Look at the Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) of the MSP. It’s important for an MSP to provide adequate support with an experienced, well-versed team.
  • Ask to see customer testimonials and case studies. It is important to onboard a reliable MSP with proven experience delivering proactive services.
  • Meet the team – ensure the Customer Service Manager and other MSP support networks are experienced, friendly and a suitable fit for your organisation.

SS also have their advantages, however, require a myriad of things to come together to work effectively. SS benefits organisations that still want to retain an in-house team along with outsourcing components of technologies that no longer fall to the responsibility of existing staff.

Outsourcing certain components of IT removes the need to acquire new infrastructure and spend time training people from different departments who might not be an appropriate fit. To achieve this takes meticulous planning, delegation and hiring, and in practice proving far more difficult than in theory.