No matter what you manufacture, you rely on IT to make it possible.
Having sound IT support is imperative to the productivity of your business.
Managed services are a great fit for manufacturers for many reasons, including 24/7 support and experience working with this industry.
However, at The KR Group, we know the importance of IT means you need to know everything about managed services before agreeing to a contract. This includes the problems as well as the benefits.
When we talk to manufacturers and they ask this question, we point out three problems (but don’t panic, each comes with a solution):
- MSPs can’t always provide hands-on assistance
- MSPs serve businesses within a size range
- Aging technology can hinder your MSP
As we said, each of these problems has a solution, which we’ll also take time to explain.
Problem #1: MSPs can’t always provide hands-on assistance
Managed IT services for any business means an MSP takes over your IT environment.
With this takeover, they’ll do most — approximately 80% — of your IT maintenance remotely. Your MSP will come on-site for emergencies and regularly scheduled visits. (The frequency of this visit can vary from weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your needs and MSP’s service.)
This can be a problem for businesses who are accustomed to a hands-on internal IT department.
For some manufacturers who require frequent hands-on assistance, 80% doesn’t feel like enough time on-site.
It can also present problems if you want your engineer to actively become a part of your company culture.
MSPs try to embed themselves into your company as much as possible, but they are restricted by how frequently they visit your business.
First, remember that you will still frequently see your MSP. Unless you opt for a remote-only managed services contract, your MSP will still come on-site regularly to resolve issues and build a relationship with you.
The structure of managed services prevents an MSP engineer from dedicating all their time solely to your business, so if you feel you need this, you may want to consider co-managed IT services or in-house IT.
However, an MSP has enough engineers on staff to address your issues quickly. And while managed IT services don’t supply an on-site engineer between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., they make up for it when it comes to 24/7 availability.
Problem #2: MSPs serve businesses within a size range
Even though managed IT services are outsourced support, the best MSPs will still customize services to your needs.
However, managed IT services are still restricted on the size of your business. Generally, MSPs only scale up to around 100 users.
However, manufacturers are a bit of an exception to this because not all of their employees require full-time access to a computer.
You’ll have some traditional, full-time users that spend the majority of their time logged onto a computer. This includes designers, knowledge workers, and executives.
However, some of your users, such as technicians and other employees on the shop floor, don’t require full-time use of a computer but still use IT to some extent. These employees are covered under your contract at a lower rate since they don’t have as much of a reliance on IT as full-time users.
In general, this means manufacturers have a bit more flexibility when it comes to user count.
You should still consider the 100-user count as a guideline, but it’s a little less strict when manufacturers combine their full-time and part-time users.
However, if you’re a very large manufacturer who is well over the 100 user count, managed IT services might not work for you.
If you’re still looking for outsourced assistance, you can consider co-managed IT services.
If you’re above the 100-user count, make sure you talk to your MSP to make a plan to accommodate your business.
Problem #3: Aging technology can hinder your MSP
One problem MSPs frequently encounter with manufacturers is aging IT infrastructure.
Many manufacturers have software and systems running on old versions of Windows or other operating systems.
This not only poses a huge security risk, but it is often the source of other problems (and frustration) your MSP has to handle.
Having outdated systems is inefficient for MSPs to use, and it can slow down their efforts to resolve your issues.
Your MSP will require you to update these outdated systems. However, they’ll help you plan for these replacements.
If your business relies on systems that can only run on these outdated operating systems, your MSP may need to put in alternate protections in the form of custom networks and specific security protocols.
Finding the right IT solution
Like any solution, managed IT services have their pros and cons.
They can’t provide frequent hands-on support, they’re restricted by a size range, and they require special consideration with aging infrastructure.
However, these are easily solved.
Having your MSP work with your internal IT engineer (co-managed IT services) can provide you with frequent hands-on support. Or, you can understand that while your MSP won’t physically always be there, they are available at any time.
Plus, your MSP can work with you to find a solution that works if you have more than 100 users or aging infrastructure.
For more information about what IT solution will work best for your manufacturing business, check out our article, “Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Augmented Services,” or download our free comparison chart.