Centralized Services for Managed Service Providers
Having spoken to many MSP’s (Managed Service Providers), I have stumbled upon the realization that people use different verbiage and have different definitions for a lot of various items and concepts in the technology space. With the industry evolving, and evolving so rapidly, it should not come as a surprise that many new terms are born out of this evolution.
What are Centralized Services?
Centralized Services is one of those terms. Evolving from the term Network Operations Center, Centralized Services is defined as a centralized location from which you can provide cloud-based services to more than one client at a time. Some examples of these tools provided by the MSP include automation tools, monitoring tools, patching, antivirus, backup solutions, cybersecurity tools, and many more. These tools are all considered Centralized services because they are mass deployed and managed from a centralized portal, compared to individually deploying and managing them on an individual machine basis.
Why are Centralized Services Important?
While it is not cheap investing in centralized services, that investment will eventually lead to extensive time savings for your staff, scalability for your organization, and increased quality / accuracy when delivering service. The tools within a centralized service stack allow you to automate, be alerted on, and remediate a vast majority of the daily activities in your organization.
- More efficient use of time: Using centralized services for centralized deployment and automated management saves time compared to individual deployment and management per machine.
- Consistent results / minimize mistakes: Automation provides consistency. Mistakes are not uncommon when a human executes a task repetitively because they have to execute the task perfectly, every time.
- Proactive Solution: You find out about problems or potential problems before your client does.
- Data Integrity and access: Data is king and investing in Centralized services gives you the accurate insight into the statuses of every project, solution, and activity that your staff is responsible for. Knowing that your data is correct and always being able to reference it provides you the insight to make data-driven decisions in regard to the future of your organization.
- Investment of time and money up-front to configure: There will be a sizable upfront cost to configuring centralized services. If done correctly, this money will be a good investment and realized in the future through time savings and customer retention.
- Less personalization and “soft skills customer service”: This could be a pro for many MSPs as well depending on how you conduct your business, but some MSPs prefer the approach where they want to talk to their customer and want them to call in whenever something goes wrong to provide that “personal” approach. A centralized services approach would minimize this kind of customer interaction.
Where do I start?
First and foremost, it is important to determine how you are going to staff your centralized services department. You are faced with two options – staff internally or outsource the management.
Staffing internally is a great option if you are looking for flexible resources that can handle many different aspects of the centralized service department on any given day. That being said, the expertise is typically not cheap, and you will still have to provide benefits and paid time off to this employee as well as all the hiring costs associated with filling this position.
Outsourcing is a great option if you are looking for an expert to step in and handle a specific function of the Centralized Service department.
The dedicated staffing model, where you essentially “rent” a tech, acts very similar as staffing internally except you avoid the hassle of having to refill the position if the engineer leaves.
The solutions-based model provides a result to the MSP. This is ProVal Techs model, and it gives the MSP access to a team of people who will be dedicated to a specific function of the Centralized Service Department (or department as a whole) but may lack the flexibility for assisting in other areas of the business. For example, ProVal Tech company optimizes and manages RMM tools and Backup solutions.
It is important to understand what your business needs are when considering how to build out your centralized services department.