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In part one of my series on managed service providers (MSPs), I explained what a managed service is, why you may consider managed services for your enterprise content management (ECM) project, possible MSPs, and the types of services that can be provided.

As a consultant, I provide implementation oversight after vendor selection. Typically, during implementation, everyone is very impressed with the vendor’s vertical industry knowledge and their insights into the business, whether it be accounting, human resources (HR), engineering, legal, or governance. Yet, when the system is up and running, and all parties are happy, the vendor walks out the door, taking all that technical knowledge and vertical expertise with them. Rarely is the “shadow” training of information technology (IT) during implementation effective. Consequently, many of the initial trouble tickets and enhancement requests get less than optimal responses.

A MSP can continue to provide that industry knowledge to the engagement and to handle customer trouble tickets, questions, and enhancement requests. You may consider engaging a MSP for a 12-month period and have IT shadow them so that they gain the technical experience and knowledge in real time. At the end of the year, reassess IT, the user community, and the MSP to determine if the contract should be extended or if there is sufficient in-house knowledge to continue without the MSP. Remember, you can use MSP hours on demand when a more complex situation arises.

MSPs come in many flavors and offer many different contract vehicles. For example, a vendor like OpenText has a MSP service in which they become the IT department for day-to-day operations, but that service does not include development/implementation projects. Another OpenText service may do predefined project work, such as developing five new document types, along with the workflows for each type, defining the metadata and search criteria, and completing all the work, from requirements development to final testing.

Whether you already have an existing ECM system or just starting on the path to one, consider using a MSP. The many benefits of a MSP are:
  • Dedicated, on-site, on-call, or remote support for users, which will improve overall productivity as issues and questions are successfully resolved quickly, with an added, “Hey, while you are in that screen, did you know you could…”
  • Because the MSP is also knowledgeable about your specific industry and business—and they support a wide variety of similar businesses—they can offer best practices and provide advice to business users and departments based on their in-depth industry and ECM application knowledge.
  • MSPs are experts in areas that you may be lacking, such as workflow, records management, compliance, and information governance.
  • MSPs typically have a dedicated security group that can far exceed your own IT department's knowledge and expertise. This may allow your company to have better security for your systems, applications, document libraries, and documents.
  • Because the MSP is tasked with system upkeep and maintenance, your system should have a higher level of uptime—proactive support instead of reactive by avoiding preventable issues.
  • The introduction to new system features and options as they become available, in addition to implementing the new features and training users on it (just ask your IT department how many versions are behind your current ECM).
  • MSPs increase overall satisfaction, which leads to greater user adoption of the system.
  • They free up the IT department and the user community to concentrate on their real day-to-day business activities.
  • Through reduced operating costs, increased productivity, and greater overall system usage, long-term cost of ownership may be reduced and your return on investment may be increased.
  • Dedicated expertise in areas like security, programming, and new technologies that are on the horizon.
  • You may gain access to non-ECM technologies that can improve your business, such as customer relationship management (CRM) tools, business analytics software, and existing or upcoming cloud technologies.
  • On-site personnel can be provided to manage the system or can provide supplemental personnel on an as-needed basis.
A MSP allows you to go beyond the break/fix mentality—where service and maintenance is reactive—to a more proactive mentality, which solves problems before they become problems. With a wide choice of contract vehicles and service offerings, it may be worthwhile to investigate and try a MSP to augment your IT support services and internal department superusers.

Bud Porter-Roth has over 20 years of experience as an enterprise content management (ECM) consultant, with a focus on cloud collaboration, electronic document management, records management, and paper document projects. He is also the author of Request for Proposal: A Guide for Effective RFP Development. Follow him on Twitter @BudPR or contact him at