Several years ago, almost by accident and circumstance, we found ourselves supporting the online solutions we built for our clients. Different from the older consulting services model of “deploy and leave,” Guidance was providing maintenance, enhancement and 24/7 support (together called “Managed Services”) to clients in need of ongoing service.
Over time, we found that the 24/7 support and monthly maintenance services created a different kind of relationship with our clients. For one, it kept us working closely together for extended periods of time. By doing so, we quickly became natural extensions of our clients’ teams. This increased productivity on both sides and drove client satisfaction.
Also, the subject matter expertise we built with clients over these extended periods of time allowed us to provide greater overall value to our clients’ businesses. And I would offer that the consultative approach we have taken over the years with our managed services practice has enabled dozens of companies to reach their online potential.
Part of the secret to our success in this space has been our approach to managing the entire technology spectrum. Generally speaking, however, we typically find multiple companies supporting different layers of an online infrastructure (see Figure 1 above). For example, it’s common to have a development shop doing custom development; a hosting company hosting servers; and a committed but ill-equipped internal IT department struggling to glue them together. This, I believe, is a mistake.
In fact, I believe more businesses should work with a single vendor to manage servers and network hardware, operating systems, applications, firewalls, etc. Much of the performance gains we produce for our clients comes from deep knowledge and tuning across each of these tiers. Tuning an application without deep knowledge of the hardware and networking equipment is often fruitless. The same is true for 24/7 support and troubleshooting.
By working with a partner who can not only open a help desk ticket but who can resolve issues across the entire solution architecture, businesses can reduce operational expense, increase uptime and drive customer loyalty.