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Managed and Professional Services: How complementary solutions are becoming critical ones


Throughout the past few months, we have seen organisations' internal teams forced to adapt their processes, infrastructure and strategies in ways that would previously have been inconceivable. Key to the success of this process has been the support of external service providers, who have complemented companies' internal expertise and freed IT teams to focus their attention where it is most needed. As it becomes clear that the distributed workforce is here to stay, such partnerships are going to be more important than ever moving forward.

With a wide range of future investments to consider in terms of both technology and services, it's important that organisations carefully consider which aspects of their day-to-day operations are best kept in house, and which would benefit from outsourcing to an IT partner. Such partnerships offer a wide range of opportunities to enhance efficiency, control costs and rapidly scale up or down when necessary. However, to gain the fullest range of benefits, organisations must identify their long-term business goals, potential disruptions in the future, and which services will best help them meet these challenges. When making a decision, it's important to understand the different options available and what they can offer…

Managed services vs. professional services

The difference between these two areas is subtle but important.

Managed services are designed to reinforce an organisation's day-to-day operations, with a provider maintaining a support or service desk, managing a SaaS platform, or offering support in terms of security, by taking charge of monitoring, alerting and upkeep for IT systems. The key advantage of this approach is that it frees internal IT departments of much of the time-consuming work involving maintaining physical hardware, implementing patches and updates, and monitoring systems for any irregularities that may represent security concerns or data breaches. This can be presented to internal teams in the form of automated reporting and alerting, ensuring they can retain control and visibility of their infrastructure, while maintaining their primary focus on business growth activities.

Professional services, in contrast, focus on specific transformation projects within organisations - Cloud migrations, for example. With these services, service providers' in-house experts conduct a detailed evaluation of an organisation's aims for a project, then provide hands-on management and support throughout each stage until completion. Once the project has concluded, managed services may be put in place to ensure KPIs are met, issues can be promptly dealt with, and infrastructure can be scaled up or down when necessary. Further professional services may also be incorporated in response to unexpected shifts in circumstances, or developments in the digital landscape.

It's arguably best to see managed and professional services as complementary: managed services maximise organisations' overall efficiency and ability to maintain business continuity, while professional services ensure periods of necessary change are managed with minimal disruption and dedicated expertise to avoid issues and instead demonstrate increased opportunity.

Managing stress, costs and performance during a period of widespread change

A recent survey of Exponential-e customers highlighted that around 45% of those surveyed had become more reliant on Cloud services as a consequence of COVID-19. Although a similar number of organisations described themselves as having been well-placed to make this transition, others - particularly those managing cumbersome on-premise legacy systems - required additional support to ensure successful transitions. This was particularly prevalent in sectors like healthcare, finance, legal and government, where the challenge presented by legacy systems was compounded by highly specific compliance and data protection requirements.

The rapid acceleration of Cloud adoption and deployment of Unified Communications solutions has highlighted the importance of professional and managed services when it comes to maximising organisations' agility and resilience, as well as ensuring organisations' networks are protected, with patching implemented whenever needed. Indeed, at Exponential-e we have seen this play out in many of our customers' moves to a distributed workforce, with the necessary solutions deployed in as little as 48 hours, with no service disruption or compromises in security.

Working with Exponential-e's teams

Designed to help organisations across all sectors and enable our customers to unlock the full potential of their IT ecosystems, we offer both managed and professional services, where we take a consultative approach to delivering these services. This ensures all aspects of an organisation's challenges, strategy and infrastructure have been thoroughly understood, before our Prince 2-certified project managers take charge of the execution. At the same time, our deep technical expertise and sector-specific experience ensures all platforms and applications are implemented effectively, allowing staff to make full use of them straight away, with support on hand whenever it's needed.

Based on our recent experiences throughout COVID-19 and beyond, we believe this approach is revealing the true range of possibilities it offers IT providers, customers and end users alike. As organisations across the UK establish continue to establish new ways of working and doing business, we look forward to seeing these partnerships bear further fruit.

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