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Should MSPs outsource their NOC and Service Desk?

All MSPs (and VARs becoming MSPs) have a big decision to make. Should they build their NOC (Managed Services Team) internally or outsource? If you have already built out a NOC, you may want to reconsider if you should expand it further or outsource its expansion.

Anyone who has built a NOC successfully knows that it can expensive, difficult to manage and requires an incredible amount of effort. Beyond hiring the team of techies, you need a service ticketing system, a remote monitoring an management system, a proper billing system and possible a service automation system. This stuff is not plug and play. Actually the skill set that is required by your techies are also different from the traditional break fix. And, there are lots more to consider!

In other words, it is no walk in the park to building a successful MSP practice.

The following are some reasons that an outsource NOC (inBay in the UK) provided as to why MSPs should consider outsourcing their NOC. They are making a case that it is an opportunity for your team, not a threat. What do you think?

  1. Your engineers will remain the bedrock of your business

With significant levels of expertise, knowledge of the systems you are supporting and the monitoring and automation tools you are using – plus a first-hand relationship with your customers – it would not normally make sense to replace your team.

Indeed, your engineers could well end up with more responsibility as they will be managing the process and the additional resources available through your partner.

  1. They won’t have to be on call for out-of-hours services

Many MSPs start working with a partner for NOC and Service Desk to cover out-of-hours first. Like them, you may want your own teams to continue to handle NOC and Service Desk during normal business hours, but use a partner outside of this and to extend your service to 24/7.This means you retain what you have in place but can access through your partner the additional resources you need, whenever you need them. This is often the way our own relationships with MSPs begin.

  1. Freed from the daily grind your engineers can focus on the new ‘in-demand’ IT services.…

Are your engineers happy to be constantly called upon for routine maintenance and low-level reactive support tasks? Resolving daily network and server maintenance issues for NOC, for example or handling basic user requests, such as password changes and new user set-up, for Service Desk?

By delegating the ‘daily grind’ to a partner, your engineers will be freed up to focus on specialist projects; on higher-margin services that will extend and improve your value in the eyes of your customers – security, for example, or cloud, or big data. These are the areas where companies readily admit to needing outside help.

  1. …and gain the requisite skills to deliver these

They may have the time, but do your engineers currently have the right technical skills to deliver the new services outlined above?

According to CompTIA’s UK State of the Channel Report, around 40% of MSPs said they needed to invest in new technical training and development – particularly to accommodate the new skills for the areas noted above; and accepted that they may even need to hire new people to meet this demand.

With your engineers ‘liberated’ from the constant stream of routine maintenance tasks, thanks to these being handed over to your partner, wouldn’t they appreciate the opportunity to gain the new skills you need – rather than you having to bring in new hires?

There is nothing more demotivating than being passed over for a new opportunity because you are deemed essential in your current position as a ‘safe pair of hands’.

Hand over that responsibility to your partner, giving your engineer the chance to work on higher value projects that will “delight” your customers and differentiate you from competitors – and you will increase their job satisfaction levels in the process.

  1. …and focus on progressing relationships with your customers

It takes time to achieve the ‘holy grail’ of acting as virtual CIO or CDO to your customers; time that your senior engineers do not have if they are constantly being pulled away to firefight.

With a partner taking care of NOC and Service Desk, your team could take on more of the crucial role of developing customer relationships: finding out what the real customer concerns are, identifying new opportunities, planning for future requirements and incorporating these into your services. This is essential if you are to move up to servicing larger customers with more complex needs. 

  1. Less stress for you and your team

Do your engineers start the day stressed – and it just gets worse?

Your partner will deal with any overnight issues (including planned maintenance) so your engineers won’t be running round first thing in the morning to resolve a problem that came up during the night; instead of playing catch-up, they can focus on requirements that come in during the day. 

  1. Less likely to be tempted away by a better offer

If your engineers feel they are stagnating, with little chance of upward advancement, acquiring new skills or of being deployed into a new service area, then the grass of another employer will inevitably seem greener – even though they may really enjoy working for you! So you risk losing the very people you don’t want to see walking out of the door: your most highly skilled and experienced technicians.

With the routine but essential tasks offloaded on to your NOC and Service Desk partner, the grass could become an awful lot greener right where they are!

  1. Make sure they understand ‘why’

A relationship only works with buy-in from both sides. Make sure your engineers realise that your partner is an extension of the team; that partner resources will be complementary – not competing.

People fear the unknown. Much better to make your team part of the decision, to make sure they understand how it will work in practice, what specifically will change about their role and how this is an opportunity to become even more valued members of your business.

Kristian Wright