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10 Benefits of Hiring a Managed Service Partner

There is no doubt that the right managed service partner (MSP) can elevate your business and bring all sorts of new possibility within reach. Here are some ways that the right MSP relationship can benefit your organization.

  1. Economy of scale – Your managed service provider is likely servicing dozens of customers whose business is similar to yours. Therefore, instead of one subject matter expert (SME) to work with each client, a SME can handle the requests of three or four customers and reduce the overall costs.
  2. 24/7/365 coverage – Having constant, around-the-clock coverage of your entire application infrastructure is not realistic for every business. However, managed service companies specialize in this specific mode of operation and depending on the engagement will provide this coverage at no additional cost.
  3. Cross-client experience sharing – Your managed service provider likely has several customers who work with the same set of applications as your organization and therefore go through the same changes at roughly the same times. Very often when you report an issue to your managed service provider, they have been working with other clients on the same problem and can resolve it very quickly. This cross-client experience sharing is what gives MSPs the leverage to offer you lower costs than you would get on your own.
  4. Training – To maintain all your existing applications and to keep up with ongoing changes, you have to keep your staff trained and certified in multiple skill sets. It’s an unending task that is never near completion. Most IT managers will admit that their staff is far behind on their training plan. Your MSP however is trained and certified in all the right areas and maintains their certifications with all the software partners. You no longer have to worry about keeping up on a skill set that doesn’t have to do with your core business.
  5. Business focus – Your primary business is more than likely not managing applications. In an ideal world all your company staff would be focused on the core of your business and not on operating payroll, financial, and inventory control applications. That is exactly the kind of focus you will gain by partnering with the right MSP.
  6. Proactive maintenance – Most IT departments are focused on keeping the lights on and break-fix issues. Proactive maintenance has become a luxury most companies can’t afford and rarely even think about. Your managed service partner profits only when the number of hours it takes to maintain your account is less than the monthly fee you have committed to. With interests aligned in this way, your MSP will take a more active role in making sure things are maintained well and they break far less often.
  7. Skills coverage – Many of the skills required throughout the year to maintain all your applications are one-off skills that never really become relevant again. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to train your staff in installation, upgrade, and setup of your applications when those tasks are only happening once every few years and changing each time. Your MSP partner, however, uses those skills with several clients and will always have trained staff on hand for such tasks.
  8. Single point of ownership – Having single point of ownership for trouble tickets, maintenance, change control, SLAs, and application related upkeep ensures that work gets done without the need to coordinate between several parties and the buck doesn’t get passed around.
  9. Reduced downtime – Proactive maintenance, the presence of a skilled and ever-ready work force, and around-the-clock coverage means the potential for downtime would be reduced to nearly zero.
  10. Leaner staff – With all the distracting applications managed by your MSP, you are now free to focus on the core applications that run your business and give you competitive advantage in the marketplace. Your team can be leaner and more focused without the need for staff with narrow skills for single-use applications. Most organizations are able to reduce their teams by 30% when partnering with a MSP.

 

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How to choose a Managed Service Partner

In today’s fast changing IT landscape, you need a managed service provider (MSP) that understands your needs and whose business model is aligned with your organization. Keep in mind the following areas when choosing a managed service provider for your business.

  • Specific application expertise: There are thousands of managed service providers within the US. Many of them claim to work with dozens of applications. It is important however that your main applications are properly supported, and the expertise of your MSP team exceeds and enhances that of your own internal team. For that reason, we focus mainly on Infor, Lawson and Kronos applications and some of the ancillary applications that are usually installed with them (MHC, BSI, API, ImageNow, Ascend …). Make sure that your MSP partner is in good standing with your software vendor and is certified to deliver services related to those applications.
  • Industry specific knowledge: Every industry has its own special challenges and choosing a managed service partner who has worked with clients in your industry can make a big difference in your level of success. An experienced MSP can also bring best practices from others in your vertical to help you be more efficient.
  • Client references: The best indicator of the quality of an MSP is what their clients have to say about them. Check reviews and ask to speak to their customers before you select an MSP.
  • State-side availability: Many of our clients find it imperative that our staff is not outsourced to foreign countries and all the work is performed state-side. If this is important to your organization, ensure that your MSP partner has a presence where you do your business and will not be impacted by geo-political issues that might otherwise interrupt their services.
  • Methods of engagement: You need to find out ahead of time how your users can engage with your MSP. Some MSPs employ a cumbersome ticketing process that can add hours if not days to the resolution of each issue. We have long adopted a policy of working within whatever ticketing system our clients are already working with so as to remove any friction from resolving issues. We also encourage customers to call or emails us directly if they feel like that will facilitate faster resolution. Be sure to understand the way your MSP works before committing to long term relationships.
  • Avoid long term commitments: Committing to a service provider is a big business decision that can impact your organization significantly. It is always advised to insist on a short-term commitment whenever possible. We don’t lock our clients into long term contracts for this very reason. In reality, if a customer wants to change service providers, it doesn’t make sense to force them to stay, but many MSPs still insist on multi-year contracts in order to break even with long and expensive sales cycles and hefty commissions.

 

Learn more about our managed services page here

5 Best practices in working with Managed Service Providers

We have been working with dozens of clients over the years as their managed service partner (MSP), managing Infor applications. In 2020, we decided to make a list of some practices that have made our relationship with our clients more successful. You can employ these same practices with your MSP to achieve the same level of success.

  • Single point of ownership – Each member of our staff works with several customers on a daily basis. We often communicate with several managers, IT contacts, and dozens of users within dozens of clients. While this communication is highly efficient and facilitates progress well, it is imperative that communication regarding important decisions are handled by one key person on each side. The most successful model we have found is if one of our managers reports directly with a manager at the client’s end and all decisions regarding projects, progress, personnel, and money are made between those two designated people. Otherwise things my get approved by someone who doesn’t have the proper authority to approve the work, which is never a good thing.
  • Change control inclusion – Including the MSP in your change control discussions is extremely valuable. Your MSP is in charge of several applications and is often the only party within the organization that is aware of the impact of changes to certain applications. It is also important that your MSP understand your change control processes so as to not accidentally circumvent them.
  • Proper planning – Clients who meet with us on a quarterly basis to do forward budget planning and general forecasting have shown a higher level of satisfaction and derived more efficiency from our services. This usually takes the form of a one hour meeting each quarter to look back on the past quarter and look forward to the next three quarters with major milestones and projects in mind.
  • Clear the path – We work with many hospitals, banks, government organizations, insurance companies, schools and retail chains. Our clients have all agreed to a remote method through which we can manage their systems. However, these systems vary quite a bit and some cause more waste than others. Work with your MSP to determine if there is a method which suits their workflow better and that you can also accommodate.
  • Full transparency – Trust in a relationship is built over many years and can be destroyed within a short moment. That is why full transparency is vital to a relationship with your MSP. This spans all facets of your relationship. From proposals, to time sheets and invoices, we go out of our way to disclose every available bit of information to customer so they can have full visibility into our progress, work efficiency, and their overall financial commitment.

 

Learn more about our managed services page here

Configuring Lawson for LDAP Signing

As you might have heard, Microsoft is hardening their security with LDAP channeling and LDAP signing in an update coming sometime in the 2nd half of 2020. Any applications that rely on LDAP connections to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) or Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) need to be converted to LDAPS. LDAPS is a secure connection protocol used between applications like Lawson and the Network Directory or Domain Controller. In this webinar, we will provide you step-by-step instructions for preparing your Lawson and Landmark environments to work with LDAP Signing.

 

 

View the supplementary article Configuring Lawson and Landmark for LDAP Signing for a step by step guide.

Nogalis Webinar: Configuring Lawson for LDAP Signing (April 16th, 9 AM PST)

As you might have heard, Microsoft is hardening their security with LDAP channeling and LDAP signing in an update coming sometime in the 2nd half of 2020. Any applications that rely on LDAP connections to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) or Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) need to be converted to LDAPS. LDAPS is a secure connection protocol used between applications like Lawson and the Network Directory or Domain Controller. In this webinar, we will provide you step-by-step instructions for preparing your Lawson and Landmark environments to work with LDAP Signing.

We use anymeeting for our webinars. The application sometimes asks you to install a plugin. In order to be ready on time. Please give yourself an additional 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

When: Thursday April 20, 2020

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM PST

This webinar is free to attend. Register Now

Chrome 80 Browser SameSite Workaround

With the upcoming Chrome 80 update, here is a simple workaround to disable SameSite cookies. To reach the chrome flags page, type this in your URL bar: chrome://flags

 

 

 

Preparing for Lawson Year-End Regulatory Patching

It’s that time of year again! Infor has released the regulatory patching for Lawson. Patching affects 1099 reporting, benefits/ACA, and payroll. We have compiled some tips to help make your year-end patching experience as smooth as possible.

 

 

Nogalis Webinar: Preparing for Lawson Year-End Regulatory Patching (December 19th, 9 AM PST)

It’s that time of year again! Infor has released the regulatory patching for Lawson. Patching affects 1099 reporting, benefits/ACA, and payroll. We have compiled some tips to help make your year-end patching experience as smooth as possible.

We use anymeeting for our webinars. The application sometimes asks you to install a plugin. In order to be ready on time. Please give yourself an additional 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

When: Thursday December 19, 2019

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM PST

This webinar is free to attend. Register Now

Nogalis Webinar: Everything you need to know about implementing ADFS (July 11th, 9 AM PST)

We have implemented ADFS for over a dozen Infor customers and have gained some great real-world experience with a few surprises along the way. Our ADFS implementation lead will share with you her experience and some of the surprises you might encounter as you implement ADFS. If you have already implemented ADFS, there are still a few nuggets of information we think you will find useful.

We use anymeeting for our webinars. The application sometimes asks you to install a plugin. In order to be ready on time. Please give yourself an additional 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

When: Thursday July 11, 2019

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM PST

This webinar is free to attend. Register Now