The Benefits of Managed Services for Federal IT

A survey found that federal IT managers recognize MSPs' value beyond helping to control costs.

Government IT Speding

When federal IT managers began to explore the benefits of working with managed services providers (MSPs), the business case often came down to dollars and cents. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to realize that the advantages are much broader.

To better understand how federal agencies view the upside of working with MSPs and how they are currently using their services, FedScoop surveyed federal IT decision-makers.

How Many Federal IT Managers Use MSPs?

The adoption of managed services in the federal government is growing, with 64 percent of respondents stating that they are already using or are considering contracting with an MSP.

When polled on what they deem the core of the managed services model, the top results included:

  • 65%: staffing and support
  • 54%: security services
  • 44%: compliance support
  • 41%: change management and training

Health agencies led the way, with 79 percent either already contracted or considering using an MSP. Meanwhile, in defense and intelligence agencies, 44% do not currently and are not planning on using an MSP in the near future.

In-Demand Managed Services

The survey found that the areas federal agencies are considering for MSP services are changing. In the past, many federal agencies contracted MSPs for help desk and support services, but looking forward, 44 percent say they are considering MSPs for cloud infrastructure services or backup and recovery. Data analytics, networks/infrastructure, and telecommunications support ranked a little lower in terms of the number of responses but still registered high enough to warrant considerations from MSPs who may want to do business with the federal government.

The key to winning contracts is finding your prospective customer’s pain point and designing a solution to address it. Federal IT decision-makers participating in the survey listed their top objectives for working with MSPs as:

  • Reducing long-term IT costs
  • Saving time to devote to their agency’s mission
  • Scalability and agility to gain greater operational capabilities
  • Expanding automation

In addition to vetting services and the value they provide, 63 percent of decision-makers look for MSPs with technical expertise and experience. They also want MSPs with a thorough knowledge of the agency or division.

A majority of federal program managers want to be able to pick and choose the services they receive from MSPs. While 20 percent of respondents did opt for fully managed services, 67 percent wanted the freedom to select services or hybrid support. Among respondents considering a move to MSPs over the next five years, those seeking fully managed support is 4 percent lower than those currently on a fully managed plan.

What Holds Some Federal IT Managers from Working with MSPs?

In addition to highlighting in-demand services and the outcomes federal IT managers are looking for, the survey also explored why managers might not consider using an MSP’s services. Barriers include:

  • Control of security (55%)
  • Unexpected cost overruns (40%)
  • Control of essential IT operations (33%)

Position Your MSP Business For Success

Staying on budget is clearly an important factor for federal agencies. However, determining real costs can be a little more difficult than simply a line-by-line comparison. Some of the most important factors are hard to put a price tag on. How much is it worth for the decision-maker to have confidence that a potential MSP understands his or her agency’s mission? What is it worth to that agency to be able to focus more of its effort on accomplishing its mission instead of managing IT upgrades? Understanding these intangibles can mean the difference between success and failure when trying to close a federal IT account.