The local government sector is being transformed by digital technologies. With the right applications, platforms, and infrastructure, local governments and municipalities can achieve cost savings and efficiency gains. Better access to data means data-driven decision-making is also becoming the norm, plus the citizen and employee experiences are being improved.
That’s the good news – you probably don’t need us to tell you there is a flipside, too. That flipside is the increasing strain on your IT teams, and the challenges that strain brings to day-to-day operations.
So, what is the solution? You can increase your technical resources, but that is costly, inefficient, and difficult given the issues that exist in recruitment and staff retention. If you were a company in the commercial sector, you could explore the option of moving everything to an MSP, but this approach usually always feasible for local governments or municipalities.
Co-managed IT is the ideal alternative, where you divide IT responsibilities and projects between your internal IT department and an MSP.
But Wait – You Have to Hire the Right MSP
Before going into the details of the key areas where an MSP can enhance your IT capabilities, levels of efficiency, and productivity, it’s important to consider who you hire.
Delivering co-managed IT services to local government and municipal clients is a different ball game from delivering a similar set of services in the commercial sector. It would be like the Trail Blazers rocking up to play Thorns FC at soccer. Some of the guys might be able to kick the ball about, but the Thorns FC women would probably run rings around them.
Just like basketball is different from soccer, delivering MSP service in the local government sector is different from delivering those services that specialize only in the commercial sector. In the local government sector, there are different ways of working as well as different processes, strategies, opportunities, complications, and challenges. Many of the software applications that are used are different too.
Therefore, it is important to hire an MSP with direct experience delivering IT services and solutions to municipal and local government clients.
With that in mind, where can an MSP add value and improve the management of IT in your local government organization?
- Enhanced Integration of Data to Increase Productivity and Data-Driven Decision Making
In local government organizations, there are vast amounts of data available. Putting that data to use is the challenge, as software applications often behave as silos, and there is a lack of effective data integration.
An MSP can help develop a robust data management system that will collect and integrate data across all your various departments. Your MSP can also implement solutions that will put the data you collect and store to use, from using the data to automate processes to creating informative data visualizations for decision-makers and others throughout the organization. From there, Co-Managed kicks in to keep this system running, as designed.
Effective data integration can also improve the citizen experience. For example:
- You can increase access to self-service data
- Complex datasets can be presented in attractive dashboards that are easy for citizens to understand
- You can make data available to citizens without any unnecessary delays
- Establish an Effective Cybersecurity Posture
According to Jen Easterly, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, local governments in the US are more vulnerable today than ever before.
Easterly describes local government cybersecurity as the “soft underbelly” of critical infrastructure in the country, saying everyone from criminals to those acting on behalf of hostile nations, are taking advantage of the chronic lack of resources at the local government level.
By hiring an MSP to provide co-managed IT services in your local government organization, you can boost your cybersecurity expertise and capabilities. An experienced MSP will help to protect the data and infrastructure that is critical to the running of your organization, as well as protecting the data of the citizens you serve.
Some of the areas where an MSP can improve cybersecurity include:
- Developing, updating, and supporting security policies, as well as providing training on these policies
- Perimeter protection for both wired and wireless networks
- Intrusion detection
- Firewalls and web filtering
- Data backups and disaster recovery processes
A skilled team at an MSP will also automate many critical cyber-attack prevention processes, eliminating delays and human error, and ensuring there is proactive protection, rather than always being on the defensive.
- Expertise in Automating Repetitive Manual Processes
There are a lot of processes in local government organizations that are repetitive and manual. Data entry is one of the most obvious examples, but there are a lot more, including processes that involve interacting with citizens.
Many of those processes can be automated, allowing you to reallocate scarce resources to other, more value-adding tasks.
Automation in local government isn’t just about replacing people with machines and software applications. Automation is also about improving processes, including eliminating the errors that people inevitably make. Automation solutions complete most tasks faster than people can, and they can integrate more effectively with other local government processes, even those that are cross-department.
In other words, automation is about making everything better for the organization as a whole, as well as for employees and the citizens that rely on the services that you provide.
A core capability that an MSP can bring to your organization is the identification of automation opportunities, and then the development and implementation of an effective solution.
It’s About Return on Investment
Whether it’s a local government or commercial organization, the hiring of an MSP is often viewed as a cost. In the local government sector, this can present challenges given the budget pressures that exist.
However, when you look at the three crucial areas of IT management highlighted above, you can see that appointing an MSP on a co-managed basis is better viewed as an investment.
Even the second point on cybersecurity should be viewed as an investment, given the considerable expenses that can be incurred by a successful (or even semi-successful) cyber-attack. It’s not just the immediate costs of resolving the situation in the event of a cyber-attack, either, but also the long-term reputational damage that can result.
Here’s the essential point: appointing an MSP to co-manage IT in your local government organization is an investment, and you should expect a return. The objective should be to maximize that return and realize it as quickly as possible.
Step Up with StepUP IT
The above is precisely where we can deliver above expectations. At StepUp IT, we have that essential local government experience mentioned that you need. We focus on adding value to your IT management processes and overall IT strategy. This will deliver an optimized return on investment.
Let’s connect today to discuss co-managed IT services further and how we can deliver value for money and a fast return on your investment.
An additional and unwelcome weight on the IT team’s shoulders at this time was the fact the city’s entire data backups were stored in the town, so they were at significant risk because of the approaching fire.
Our team at StepUP IT quickly and effectively dealt with this problem by implementing an additional cloud backup solution for the city’s data. This eliminated the immediate fire risk to the data, while allowing the IT department in the city to get on with the long list of other important tasks they were dealing with.
The above example is co-managed IT in action.
To help you get a better understanding of co-managed IT, and whether it is a solution that could be implemented in your business, here are answers to the most frequently asked questions.
- What is Co-Managed IT?
Co-managed IT is an IT management model where you keep some services and tasks in-house, where they are looked after by your IT department. Everything else is allocated to an MSP.
In other words, it’s an approach where an MSP supplements your IT team with clearly defined areas of responsibility. It is a highly flexible approach to IT management as it allows you to decide the areas of IT that are best kept in-house and those that would benefit from the additional capacity and expertise of a third-party partner.
- What are the Benefits of a Co-Managed IT Approach?
IT departments and technical resources often work at capacity just to deal with the day-to-day issues and requirements of managing an organization’s IT infrastructure. In fact, there are often situations where internal IT teams are stretched beyond capacity, to the point where they are overwhelmed.
Even when an IT department is functioning, there is often not enough spare capacity available to devote sufficient time to things like IT strategy development, improvement projects, and optimization.
Internal IT teams can also face skills challenges, where they need to be across all aspects of the IT landscape. Unless there are unlimited IT resources and plenty of time for ongoing training and professional development, skill gaps inevitably arise. Those skill gaps can be damaging for the business.
For example, a lack of skill in automation can result in your business falling behind your competitors when it comes to productivity or the customer experience. Skill gaps in cybersecurity can be even more harmful.
Therefore, the main benefits of co-managed IT include the following:
- Increases IT management capacity
- Allows your internal IT resources to get on with what they are good at and what can bring real value to the business
- Enhances skills availability and fills skill gaps
- Enables your IT team to move away from day-to-day firefighting, instead functioning as a team that delivers continuous technical and IT operational improvement
There are other benefits, too, depending on the types of services that you need, your current IT infrastructure, and the capabilities of your IT team. Those other benefits include:
- Increased automation of standard, repetitive IT tasks as an MSP will have automation tools and processes that can be implemented immediately
- Additional expertise and a new perspective to assist with IT strategy development
- Access to enterprise-level tools to improve IT management processes and the employee/customer/user experience
- Reduced impact when an IT resource leaves as your MSP partner can bridge the gap while you recruit a new member to the team
- Ability to maintain service levels throughout the year, including when internal IT staff are off on vacation or due to illness
- Assistance with developing business cases for IT initiatives, budgets, and planning documents for IT improvement projects
- What Services Can be Allocated to an MSP?
Co-managed IT services can be customized according to your requirements, so the services that can be allocated to an MSP will often depend on things like the capabilities of your IT team and the plans you have for the organization.
Some examples of services that can be taken on by an MSP to free up your internal technical resources include:
- Disaster recovery, backups, and business continuity – these are essential processes that need to be properly set up, monitored, and optimized. Not only will an MSP have expertise in this area, but they will also have tools and proven processes that are reliable, efficient, and cost-effective.
- Cybersecurity – most areas of IT are fast-moving, but none more so than cybersecurity. Partnering with an MSP can boost the cybersecurity capabilities of your IT team through expertise, tools, and processes.
- Remote Monitoring and Alerting
- Standardized and automated patching
- Technology Alignment and Roadmapping
- What Types of Companies are Good Candidates for Co-Managed IT Services?
Co-managed IT services are suitable for just about any type of company or organization. Some common situations where it is beneficial to implement a co-managed solution include:
- Where your existing IT resources are under pressure to keep up with day-to-day requirements
- Where you have a small IT team so need additional expertise
- Where you are growing and need your IT team to scale rapidly with the business
- Where you have dips in service levels throughout the year because of staff absence, particularly where those dips in service levels impact business performance or the customer experience
- Where there are IT-related skill gaps that you need to bridge
- Where you want to reduce business risks in areas like cybersecurity, monitoring, and disaster recovery
- How Much Do Co-Managed IT Services Cost?
There is no simple answer, as it varies from company to company depending on the types of services that you require and the nature of your existing IT infrastructure (number of devices, etc).
- How to Get a Better Answer to the Above Question
We admit it – the above answer is very generic. Unavoidably generic, but generic, nonetheless.
That said, you can get an accurate and definitive answer to the question by contacting us at StepUP IT. We specialize in co-managed IT services, and we have extensive experience developing and implementing solutions for businesses and other organizations in a wide range of industries and sectors.
To speak to our team about your requirements and to get a quote, please get in touch with us today.