Have You Considered an Internal Workbench for Managed Services Implementation? (Here’s Why You Should)

With the world’s overall trust in the technology sector increasing, managed service providers (MSPs) need to revisit their traditional service delivery models with an eye not only on outcomes but also on driving the customer experience. I would argue that one of the best ways to achieve this is by establishing an internal workbench at the customer organization and aiming for tight integration with in-situ systems and processes. The internal workbench can support and scale a remote-only or remote-first approach.

Amid a Decline in Trust, There is Growing Reliance on Technology

A survey by PwC found that trust in technology service providers is at an all-time low in nearly every geography, from the Americas to the UK and the APAC. While the survey looked at B2C market sentiments, it is equally applicable to the enterprise market given the recent spike in cybersecurity attacks and challenges brought on by travel/movement restrictions. Yet, companies have been forced to rely on their managed service providers more than ever before. As I observed in a recent white paper on the subject, 66% of companies work with MSPs for IT infrastructure management. 4 in 10 companies rely on MSPs for their IT applications, helpdesk operations, and employee support.

Addressing this trust deficit should be a business imperative for service providers if they are to retain their growth momentum once we leave behind the unusual digital transformation circumstances of 2020. This is where an internal workbench for MSPs comes in.

Understanding What is a Workbench in the Context of Managed Services

Simply defined, a workbench is a space used by an expert to complete a specific task, equipped with the tools necessary for that task. For MSPs, the workbench must exist at the customer site or at least be owned by a customer-side stakeholder in order to provide absolute clarity into service delivery. Let me explain what I mean by this:

The works bench becomes the Data acquisition platform. Data acquisition problems exist in outsourcing or managed services engagement. CIO and IT outsourcing managers need to look out for high-performance computing and applications resources with substantial data sets and a secure bridge to collaborate with dispersed scientific teams. However, due to complex controls, the security regime and multiple data owners causes important data loss, multiple copies of data, and considerably reduced network performance. Which in turn requires to employ of more sophisticated means to collect, filter and store using high-speed networks. However, either the CIO provides IT or IT&OT Operational workbench or Outsourcing company bring such a platform for straightforward data acquisition and distribution to make it easy for a distributed team to view the same data set.

The workbench offers a controlled environment for experimentation and development — Managed services are rapidly progressing from the mere outsourcing of an internal function to a way to add genuine value and bring about lasting transformations. This means investing in innovation and development, in addition to maintenance and routine upgrades. The workbench allows MSPs and customer stakeholders to come together and chart the way forward.

The workbench fast-tracks testing — An internal workbench ensures that new value additions are not relegated to the back-burner, and there is timely follow-through across conceptualization, development, and testing. It includes dedicated resources for this purpose, including a QA team operating on a shared ownership model between the customer and the MSP.

The workbench streamlines customer engagement and feedback — As the managed services customer has visibility into service development and delivery all through the process, they are able to provide timely feedback and suggest appropriate alterations. This enables better alignment between service delivery and customer expectations, not to mention enhancing the customer’s engagement with the MSP organization as a whole.

The workbench helps in many ways to leverage data analytics and dashboards. IT Operational managers can currently use not many methods to separate quality data from the humongous data sets. It is important to identify patterns in the data and correctly analyze it and use it to take business decisions in infrastructure management. With the help of dashboards, anyone can fetch many reports and insights on the used & unused infrastructure, applications, user roles and cloud subscriptions. Analyzing these reports empowers you to perform an action before you spend time fetching notifications/messages and using analytics. Having an AI-ML driven dashboard, makes changes agile and improvement continuous.

In other words, an internal workbench acts as a unified hub for customer and service provider collaboration, moving into a new era of managed services where MSPs are much more than offshoring partners.

Benefits of the Workbench Model

While it might require some initial effort and investment to set up, an internal workbench benefits both the service provider and the customer equally.

The customer enterprise has end-to-end visibility into service design, testing, and deployment and is able to monitor progress at every step. I’m confident that this would significantly alleviate the trust deficit that we have come to associate with service relationships specifically and the tech sector as a whole. The workbench augments and does not replace the remote support provided by the MSP. Therefore, the customer continues to enjoy low-intervention, low-effort routine service delivery while also gaining from controlled disruption. Any expectation mismatch can be identified and addressed early on.

The biggest benefit for the managed service provider is the increase in engagement, which translates into greater loyalty and a higher lifetime value. There are also upselling opportunities, as an internal workbench would inevitably reveal new opportunities for service delivery and partnerships. Importantly, it would help curb the risk of scope creep, as the workbench would inform SLAs in a dynamic manner.

Why Classic Delivery No Longer Cuts It in 2021

We have all heard the adage “don’t fix what ain’t broken” — in 2021, I would argue that the traditional partnership model and managed service delivery approach is at risk of being broken, due to five points of pressure.

First, the transition from the industrial to the digital era is gaining critical momentum, exponentially multiplying the role of MSPs. 2020 also ushered in the need to balance work from office (WFO) with WFH for the foreseeable future. The cloud is now the default across industries, verticals, and companies of every size, and technology adoption is closely linked with a competitive market advantage. Fifth and finally, all of this brings with it a growing regulatory burden and cybersecurity risks.

An internal workbench would provide that essential element of transparency and control needed to navigate these complex times. If you are a managed services provider or consumer eager to maximize the potential value of your service partnerships, please reach to me for getting the full whitepaper for more details.

And, if you’d like to carry on this conversation and share your thoughts, opinions, or ideas, please email me at Arvind@AM-PMAssociates.com.

Board Advisor, Growth Enabler, Strategy & Culture Alignment and Technology Advisor