Managed service providers (MSPs) regularly encounter internal IT teams that are firmly convinced they can provide any IT service better and at a lower cost. The cost comparison usually doesn’t include the true fully-loaded cost of hiring a full-time employee versus the annual cost of a managed service. Nor does it factor in any lost opportunity costs that result from IT teams spending all their time troubleshooting relatively minor issues rather than focusing on advancing the digital strategy of the business.

While it’s simple enough for most MSPs to overcome the cost objection, the debate over who can do something better is often a matter of opinion. No matter how good any internal IT team might think they are, two recent surveys suggest that most internal IT teams are struggling with everyday fundamentals more than they might care to admit. 

Condusiv Technologies (formerly known as Diskeeper) conducted a survey of 906 IT professionals that shows nearly a third of the IT Pros responsible for I/O performance admit that they are currently experiencing staff/customer complaints due to sluggish applications running on SQL. The most common approach to solving that problem has been to throw in additional hardware. Nearly three-fourths of survey respondents have added new hardware to specifically improve I/O performance. About three-fourths of respondents say they plan to continue investing in hardware to improve I/O performance. Yet, over half of respondents were unaware of the fact that Windows write inefficiencies over time generate increasingly smaller writes and reads, which then negatively impacts performance.

Challenges facing internal IT teams are hardly limited to servers and storage. A survey of 204 IT professionals conducted by Sirkin Research on behalf of LiveAction, a provider of network performance monitoring tools, finds similar challenges when it comes to networking. A full 42 percent of survey respondents admit they spend too much time troubleshooting the networks as the expense of more strategic initiatives. Well over a third can’t identify network issues before they happen, while roughly 35 percent say they have poor visibility into performance across all fabrics of the network and consider this a serious problem. Not surprisingly, the survey notes that wireless networks are especially problematic, followed closely by cloud networking.

How to get internal IT teams to admit their need for an MSP

Collectively, the two surveys indicate that roughly a third of internal IT organizations are struggling. However, getting people to admit that they are not especially good at their job requires a lot of tact. Most IT professionals will resist any initiative involving an MSP that is perceived to put their job in peril. Unfortunately, far too many organizations don’t have much in the way of digital business strategy, which means internal IT teams usually only focus on tactical issues.

Savvy MSPs make sure they assess the relative IT maturity of every client they engage. If there’s an internal IT team that doesn’t have a lot of other things to focus on, chances are high they will spend a significant amount of time sniping at the MSP. Because of that issue, it’s critical for MSPs to establish a baseline for every service they provide that can compare the level of service they are providing to what was done before. After all, the only way to combat any emotional argument is with actual data. There’s a lot of IT organizations that don’t have any metrics to back up whatever argument they want to make. The onus is always going to be on the MSP to provide the irrefutable metrics.

Often, the best scenario for most MSPs is to replace the internal IT team altogether. There’s a chronic shortage of IT skills everywhere, which is why internal IT teams and MSPs need to learn to work together. The most important thing MSPs need to remember about those relationships is that the internal IT team is usually a lot more insecure than most of them are willing to admit.

Subscribe to SmaterMSP

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Strong argument for a hybrid IT solution with internal staff and a MSP backing them up. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the elephant in the room, cybersecurity. Most IT departments and their CFOs that we talk to struggle to keep their companies secure because they are busy putting out fires all day.

    Reply

  2. Avatar

    The real question is HOW to broach the subject or even get them to consider looking. We have also experienced this fear from internal IT. It is hard to believe what some organizations will put up with when clearly their in house team is either overwhelmed or blind to the risks.

    Reply

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *