The following article provides a guide to managed services for all your business functions, with the aim being to teach an understanding of this as a proven money-saving business strategy.
Saving time and money
The aspects of your business that do not actually make money are often seen as ancillary, but the truth of the matter is that if managed correctly, outsourced business functions can and do save money. The rise of managed services has been slow but steady, initially, the idea was that if something were broken, it could be fixed. The mainstay of managed service provider (MSP) relationships has been in tech, and business support, wherein the external resource was called upon when there was a problem. The mindset has changed dramatically, and after the 2008 financial crisis, business models have evolved, all with the aim to ensure bigger savings and cost reductions around ancillary business functions and processes. The aim now is also to ensure the sustainability of business functions and processes.
The MSP is now seen as an integral part of the business. From having a contact number to a desk in a corner somewhere, the current trend is to have a team of providers who provide ongoing services that are essential for business success.
Below are the three managed service segments that have proven to be both necessary and essential for business in the modern world.
IT Managed services
This is a rising trend, and a majority of small to medium businesses especially have moved to this way of accessing IT. The Cloud allows for access to industry and sector software that is top of the range for a fraction of the cost. Infrastructure, hardware, as well as service and support, are now all available to businesses. You are able to pick and choose the specific functions and tech solutions that the business needs or that you cannot do in-house. Many businesspeople would argue that the IT field was the sector that has taken managed services to the limits and provided a template to be copied and adapted for use in other business functions.
In fact, it is clear that without the underpinnings of a solid SaaS for access to software for most if not all business functions, most of the other outsourced services, as mentioned here, will not be possible. SaaS has come a long way in the last 24 months, and it would be advised to make sure your business has the right, current software solutions to support you.
The IT aspect, or managed IT services, is thus the area that any start-up or existing business that is interested in growth needs to investigate and enter.
This is one of the chief money savers for small to medium-sized businesses and has always been one of the prime examples of managed services. Instead of the burden of an HR department, most firms opt for HR outsourcing to provide professional HR services. Once again, it is primarily the flexibility and the ability to choose the right service and identify your exact needs that will lead to your success. The advice is to realize that you will still need someone within the business to manage this relationship. Many businesses embark on managed or outsourced HR and believe that they will not have to do anything HR related once they have signed on the dotted line. This a misnomer, and those who succeed with outsourced HR always have a responsible person in-house to manage the relationship with the external contractors. This the best way to ensure that your business gets what it needs from such a relationship.
Strategic supply chain management
Your business supply chain is one of the key aspects of the business, and the manner in which it is managed is key to your success. Moden supply chains have evolved from simple linear processes between producer and supplier to a situation where they are now intricate webs of interaction. Business supply chain management (SCM) now includes most departments, can be across several continents, and operates on a 24/7/365 basis. If it is not integrated and linked to the rest of the business, then you are likely to lose time and money.
An outsourced logistics solution that serves to integrate your suppliers, warehousing, production, and distribution networks is key in any production-orientated environment. As software and applications became more prevalent, they are used across the business functions from staffing and HR to sales and marketing. These systems need to be linked to your supply chain as well to ensure that the business is integrated and can respond seamlessly to customer and client demands.
Some businesses would remove their customer service function from the supply chain and analyze this as a standalone aspect of the business. However, as the supply chain is related and involved with distribution and the customer is likely the end recipient, it is strategic and sensible to include customer service within the supply chain, and simply be mindful of the fact that there will also be an opportunity to have this managed by a professional as part and parcel, or a standalone contract within the strategic supply chain.
The three types of managed services mentioned in this article are discussed in brief, and for each, there is a myriad of possible tech and personnel solutions that have not been mentioned. It is up to the responsible businessperson to keep informed of the specific managed services that are available in your sector and conduct further in-depth research and investigation as to the services your specific business will benefit from.
From flexible specialization, lean production, JIT, and outsourcing managed business services are just another way to increase business efficiencies, using the available technology to do so. Managed services have come a long way, and the amalgamation of all the accumulated learning has meant that business options have never been so great. This also entails that making a choice as to which services are required will be a difficult task. By keeping up to date with what is actually available in each business sector and function, you will be able to make an informed decision as to managed services for your business.