Guest Column | June 24, 2014

Managed Network Outsourcing Makes Good Business Sense

Managed Network Outsourcing

By Don Britton, Founder and CEO of Network Alliance, Inc.

The business of small business is business. Whether it’s accounting, financial services, legal, medical, human resources, management consulting, property management, or government contracting, small businesses are an important part of today’s vibrant economy. 

But let’s be clear.  Managing a company’s IT network should be left up to a managed network outsourcing solutions provider — a pro that makes IT network management its business.

How To Explain The Benefits Of An Outsourced Approach To Your Customers

First and foremost, highly trained team members with a broad range of skill sets in software applications, IT infrastructure and data center management are only a phone call or email away.

Second, the right managed network outsourcing provider has a multimillion dollar infrastructure running on best of breed hardware and software.  In addition, by sharing infrastructure across an entire client base, economies of scale are created that make the cost of accessing this infrastructure significantly less expensive — up to 70 percent less — and more predictable.

Another advantage of a managed network outsourcing solution is scalability. With outsourcing, your clients use only as much hardware and software as they need.  When they need more (or less), the hosted IT solutions provider adds or subtracts applications to fit the business. A do-it-yourself approach is both costly and time consuming.

That brings us to reliability. With a managed network outsourcing provider, businesses get 24/7/365 disaster recovery capability — with daily data backup. If a business’s system goes down, it’s actually their system. Managed network outsourcing providers have a vested interest in keeping their clients up and running on the network. No service means you lose customers. So, your business goals and incentives are in perfect alignment with your clients.

Data recovery isn’t a problem when IT network management is outsourced.  If a company laptop is lost, the solutions provider can get the data back because it resides on their system.

Questions, Questions

Your potential customers are likely to have a lot of questions — and providing information will help put their mind at ease about their decision to outsource. When you meet a prospect, be prepared to answer the following questions.

  1. How long have you been in business, and how long do you expect to stay in business?
  2. How much experience have you had with companies like ours, and how well do you know the hardware and software applications we need to have supported?
  3. Across all of your clients, what is the average cost of your solution per user per month over a three-year period? Are all application licensing fees (e.g., Office Suite, Adobe, QuickBooks, etc.) included in the quoted price?
  4. What is the term commitment with your contract (e.g., 3 years, 1 year, 30 days, etc.)?
  5. Can I access the system 24 hours a day? Can I access the system through any Internet-enabled devices, including, but not limited to, PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones? Can I access the system from any location with Internet access?
  6. Can your system host most applications available on the market (e.g., Office Suite, Adobe applications, accounting software, VoIP applications)?
  7. Where is the infrastructure located? Is it in a secured data center? What level datacenter? (Note: Level 4 is the highest available)
  8. How often is data backed up? Does your desktop solution come with a redundant system at a separate geographic location? Does it allow for a seamless and immediate switchover?
  9. What is your process for hiring employees who have access to clients’ data? Are background checks completed and how are decisions made based on the information uncovered?
  10. Do you offer 24x7x365 support? What is the average hold time for a support call?
  11. Will each of my employees be able to provide feedback immediately after any ticket or issue resolution? Is this feedback publicly available?
  12. What is your client retention rate for your total years in business?

Bottom Line

Suggest that your prospect look at trends in their industry and see that more and more of their competitors are going the managed network outsourcing route.  The longer they run slower, more expensive and less reliable IT infrastructure, the bigger their competitive disadvantage will be.  Costs will invariably be higher than their competitors. 

With a managed network outsourcing solution, IT is faster, better, cheaper and a lot more reliable than the do-it-yourself approach. 

When IT works the way it’s supposed to, that’s when the fun starts.

Don Britton is the Founder and CEO of Network Alliance, Inc., a leading IT management solutions provider in the Greater Washington, DC Region.