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Three Differences Between Managed Services and Professional Services

Both Managed and Professional Service providers are experienced to integrate with your teams for ongoing or project-based support.

Managed and Professional Services are closely related—but it’s important to understand how they differ. Both can provide you with expert help to support your in-house teams and address all manner of business requirements. Many companies can benefit from one or both of these services, and it’s helpful to know which one is appropriate in any given situation.

It’s equally important to know what to look for in both a Managed Services provider and an IT Professional Services provider. As someone who has been helping organizations in both fields for many years, I’d like to take a few minutes to outline each.

1. Managed Services provide ongoing support for a set monthly fee, while Professional Services are project-based and involve a one-time cost.

Many companies find it highly efficient and cost effective to work with a managed service provider (MSP) to take care of some or all of the IT infrastructure that forms the backbone of their businesses. The MSP provides 24/7 network management while keeping a close eye on the security environment. Managed-service contracts, called Service Level Agreements (SLA), often include patching and updating your network and keeping track of new firmware releases to ensure that your technology is up-to-date. Data backup and recovery, data storage, and managed cloud services are also industry-standard practices.

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The last items on that list – managed cloud services – have seen a dramatic uptick in recent years as organizations embrace digital transformation. Should an organization opt to migrate to the cloud, once the data transfer has been accomplished, Managed Services can provide for every aspect of maintenance and security, including monitoring, alerting, and cloud backup and recovery.

Professional Services, on the other hand, are often the best solution for an organization confronting a big problem or undertaking a project. If you are managing a new hardware or software deployment, launching a new application or product, or expanding your business into new areas, a Professional Services provider would be able to provide value.

2. The on-demand nature of Professional Services offers versatility when a Managed Services contract might be unnecessary.

Engaging with a Professional Services provider allows you to deploy focused resources to address a specific issue. This tight focus, along with the specific expertise of the IT Professional Services provider, can be a sure way to comprehensive solutions.

Over the course of the last year, many organizations decided to significantly improve their security posture in the face of a sharp spike in cybercrime. In some cases, the optimal solution was to contract with a Professional Services provider to improve their security position and train their team. And speaking of cybersecurity, in the event of a malware attack, a cybersecurity Professional Services provider can immediately deploy an incident response team to blunt the disaster and end the threat.

A core deliverable that a Professional Services provider can bring you is project management and support. Professional Services providers have project managers on staff with Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile certifications. These experts often have years of experience working closely with engineering and technical teams, which puts them in a unique position to communicate with stakeholders.

Other valuable Professional Services include expert help solving staffing problems; app development from concept to execution; cloud migration, and technical support, which you might think of as an outsourced help-desk staffed by experts in every aspect of IT.

3. Managed Services can put your IT in “always-on” mode and allow you to focus on your core operation.

With an SLA customized for your specific business needs, working with a Managed Services provider gives you a team that is on-hand and ready to tackle any sudden problem or respond to any opportunity immediately. This arrangement can do away with the worries and frustrations that come with running and maintaining your technology infrastructure.

That continuous support also allows you to anticipate and prevent costly business disruptions. Many business leaders probably don’t spend as much time as they should thinking about the many threats, from cybercrime to natural disasters, that might loom on the horizon – but let’s face it, you have plenty on your plate without that distraction. Working with a MSP to develop a business continuity and disaster recovery plan, and knowing that their team is on-call, can help you focus on running and growing your business.

Bottom line: Make certain that you get exactly what you need.

I have long believed that when it comes to helping organizations with their IT needs, flexibility is the key element. That’s why I strongly urge you, when looking for a Managed Services provider or a Professional Services provider, to resist any sales pitch that looks like a pre-built plan or package. Instead, I hope you’ll insist that whichever service you require, your provider is willing to customize it to fit your actual business needs.

It’s more likely than not that you’ll benefit from both managed services and professional services. To best serve your needs, seek a provider with the staff and tools to offer both. Again, there is no reason for you to adjust your expectations to fit into a cookie-cutter package. You want a partner who will help you identify your specific needs and pain-points and put together a contract custom-tailored for you.

I hope you found this information helpful. As always, contact us anytime about your technology needs.

Until next time,

Tim

Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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