Managed Services

Why are we so enamored with the term ‘Managed Services?’ Although the term itself conjures up great visions like

- Once and for all resolving my issues with the IT organization, 

- Moving to a service-based or utility-based model, or

- Letting someone else deal with the headaches of delivery, while I (and my team) can focus on what the business really needs …..

... we should be aware that our daydreaming needs a dose of reality.

Any of these visions are great and would be a wonderful case study for others to envy, but let’s get real. The reality is that very few organizations take the time to really figure out what they need and what the market can deliver before embarking on the journey to deliver managed services. We are fascinated with the term, thinking it will be as simple as turning on/off a light switch. We fail to remember everything that went into making that light switch work to begin with and what makes it continue to work well. Instead of getting caught up in the lore of ‘managed services,' take the time to figure out what you need in order to bring managed services into your environment.  There are some great successes and some equally great failures. Try a couple of these techniques and see what happens:


  • Look at what is happening in your industry with managed services. How many of your peers are using managed services to deliver competitive capability? For example, you may have a hot new internal development project underway with a two-year window for delivery. Check on your competitors; chances are they are delivering it in six months, leveraging a vendor to build and maintain the new capability and even to run the infrastructure. Better to find this out sooner than realize what you are delivering is outdated.
  • Look at what you can get rid off.  Take some time to seriously look at your portfolio of applications with a new set of eyes. Can you ignore the internal architecture team’s position of ‘buy, hold, sell’ regarding your internal technical architecture? Ask yourself, why do I need any of this? Can a vendor take any of this, start running it and then help me move to a new architecture or delivery model? 
  • Consider waiting until the market can deliver a managed service in your specific industry. Chances are, you may have something that the market is only starting to look at and build a capability.  It’s only a matter of time until someone in the market figures out how to lower the total cost of ownership and enhance the technical capability. You could choose to wait it out or you could choose to devote some resources to creating the new capability with a strong partner. The deciding factor may hinge on competitive advantage, as well as the risk that you will assume with the approach.


The techniques and approaches for managed services are currently evolving. There will be more to come as this area evolves. We will continue to be enchanted with the topic of ‘managed services' - hopefully moving away from that first blush of fascination to the reality of the work required for successful market delivery.