Perhaps the first generation of managed services was ahead of its time. No more. Given the rapid maturation of cloud-hosted applications, more ubiquitous bandwidth, and the greater need to manage costs, more federal agencies are engaging with contractors for managed services.
According to Ben Gianni, vice president and chief technology officer for national security at General Dynamics Information Technology, the potential benefits of managed services include flexibility for the agency – flexibility in terms of staffing, transparency and predictability of expenditures. That’s because managed services are generally negotiated on a unit price that includes the labor and technology required to deliver the service. Agencies can scale up or down their levels of consumption depending on requirements at the time.
Flexibility also extends to the service levels required. For instance, Gianni explains, some situations might require a response to a trouble query within minutes. In other situations, within 24 hours might be adequate. But overall, he says, acquisition of managed services provides an opportunity to get better service and tailor it so the specific situation.
Sam Capone is GDIT’s service area director for managed services. He points out that managed services helps reduce the capital outlays agencies need for IT by converting them to operational expenses. At the same time it frees capital dollars for forward-looking, badly-needed modernization projects.
Capone notes that managed services extend beyond traditional IT functions such as device issuance and provisioning, or help desk.
“There’s a whole host of business process services that are enabled, and made more efficient and effective by IT, but they themselves aren’t IT,” Capone says. These include human resources, where large organizations are moving to the self-service model for employees. Also financial functions and facilities management.
Although acquisition and IT staffs must be part of the decision-making for managed services, Gianni says the program people actually responsible for the service should also be involved in the decision.