Monica Kling is a legal assistant with more than 25 years of experience at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Warshafsky Law Firm. Like many workers today, she wears many hats, including Accounting Manager, backup Office Manager and even Technology Manager.
Unfortunately, trying to perform her legal, accounting, and payroll duties was increasingly difficult when she also had to handle IT emergencies. “A lot of times I would be working on payroll or doing heavy number crunching on a spreadsheet and someone would call because their computer was blowing up,” she said. “It’s impossible to finish something that demands a lot of concentration when you also have sudden emergencies that demand all of your attention.”
Warshafsky Law partnered with the Gordon Flesch Company (GFC) as its Managed IT service provider. GFC installed a business continuity solution, took over management of the firm’s servers and workstations, and automated the installation of software patches and updates. But most importantly for Monica, employees can now contact the GFC service desk directly and have technical issues resolved rather than call her. “It’s great. I love it,” says Monica. “We get help with all kinds of issues and I don’t even have to know about it. It just gets resolved.”
But hiring a Managed IT services company is not a simple matter of changing over duties to a different organization or directing employees to call a different extension when they need help. It takes communication, planning and a lot of blocking and tackling for a smooth transition to a Managed IT service. Over the years, we’ve learned a few lessons about what it takes to transition from in-house to outsourced Managed IT.
Know What You Don’t Know
Often, an organization builds its IT infrastructure over many years by adding resources as needed and without a strategic plan, often in response to an unexpected problem or initiative. That means technology and resources are often added, but not always well documented or mapped out in the company’s network architecture. You’d be amazed how many customers have servers they didn’t know are still in use or have network devices stuck in a closet somewhere that no one knows anything about.
That’s why the first thing we do when visiting a prospective customer is to conduct a complimentary assessment to map the entire network and all the devices attached to it. Often, we can see routers, servers or other devices that have been plugged into a system and may even be performing critical tasks, but no one really knows much about them. When outsourcing your IT service, try to pull together an inventory of your systems so that any managed solutions can be sized appropriately and you can get a head start on the process.
That means you should collect information like passwords, user names and permissions, and identify the locations of computers and equipment. When an outsourced Managed IT Service provider has accurate information, they can make data-driven decisions and recommend new equipment based on an accurate assessment of the demands your company will face. It helps determine services needed, ensure you have adequate IT resources and craft a strategic, long-term plan.
From a practical standpoint, information sharing allows you to pass the baton to your service provider so they can update software, install patches and manage your infrastructure more smoothly. From a long-term perspective, it helps implement technology that can grow with your organization rather than being in constant “reaction” mode or just plugging in new versions of hardware and software.
Talk to Us — Communication is Key to Success
At the outset of the transition, customers and service providers need to have frank and open conversations about expectations. A solid planning foundation helps both parties feel comfortable in the relationship and ensures that goals are met. If you just want someone to take over the maintenance and care of your IT systems, then simple information sharing is enough. But for long-term strategic growth, your service provider needs to know where your company wants to be in five years. This is a much deeper conversation than how many computers and laptops you need for your employees.
Working alongside the internal IT team will help service providers gain a deeper understanding of internal operations and learn any existing pain points within the environment. When managing the transition, it helps ensure go-live dates and delivery deadlines are met even as the full scope of the project is coming into focus. This type of exhaustive approach is vitally important considering that organizations with underperforming IT project management see only 60% or fewer of their projects come in on time and on budget.
Achieving a Happy Outcome
I hope it’s obvious why transitioning to an outsourced Managed IT service is not just a matter of handing over the keys, but opening up your institutional memory and sharing your high-level strategic goals with your IT partner. A little knowledge will go a long way in reducing stress and making the transition go smoothly. If done right, the handover should be so seamless that your people might not even know a change has happened. “At our quarterly meeting with Nick Bambulas, our GFC virtual CIO, he showed us all of the service calls from our staff. I had no idea,” said Kling. “I get copied if there’s a major issue that might need my attention, but I don’t even need to know about the smaller issues that people are having.”
At Gordon Flesch Company, we’re dedicated to ensuring your transition to outsourced IT management doesn’t become another project failure statistic. To explore how Managed IT can alleviate many of the technology issues your company faces, reach out for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.