How WorkSmart shifted from offering SMBs service plans to full-on managed services.
By Ron Unger
WorkSmart has been in business since 2001, but we first began our move into managed services in 2004. Growing WorkSmart’s managed services practice has felt like a natural evolution. We’ve actually been offering monthly service plans since we opened our doors.
WorkSmart’s original service plans were based on a set number of support hours. If a client needed more help in a given month, they paid extra for it. Plenty of our clients were content with that arrangement, but we felt that a fixed price option would better suit our growth goals and would make forecasting IT expenses easier for our clients.
Predictability of IT expense is certainly a hallmark of managed services, and over time we expanded our WorkSmart services to offer more and more “unlimited” support for a fixed monthly fee.
By 2006, several things were working in our favor. For one, we felt we had a very firm grasp on scalable cost management for managed services. Second, we had streamlined our processes and become very efficient operationally. And finally, there were much better remote management tools available.
Five years later, the results speak for themselves. WorkSmart’s client relationships are stronger than ever because we’re delivering even higher services levels at a competitive, predictable price. Yet we also enjoy greater control over margins. That’s helped us expand in our core markets of Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro, N.C. as well as Philadelphia. Moreover, WorkSmart has grown its revenues every quarter, even during the recent recession.
If you’re looking to grow a managed services practice, my first word of advice would be to dive into your operations and your sales process. I think a thorough understanding of your cost structure and market pricing will give you a basis for expected returns. As you grow, testing out new pricing schemes with a select prospect or two can help guide your decisions going forward. If you have a deep pipeline of prospects for managed services, you can afford to validate your rates before rolling them out broadly.
RELIABLE, EFFICIENT SOLUTIONS
It also pays to take the time to choose the right remote monitoring and management partner.
Prior to investing in Zenith, we purchased a tool that required our team to spend many hours addressing minor technical problems instead of helping our clients with more strategic issues. We had heard good things about Zenith Infotech’s managed service offerings from peers in the IT community, and after thorough evaluations of competing products, we selected Zenith as our ongoing partner.
Unlike our first tool, Zenith’s desktop and server management systems come with a NOC that handles routine alerts for us, so we can concentrate on the ones that really matter. With their technicians on duty 24/7, we are better able to provide continuous support without fully staffing our own NOC around the clock. As a result of all that, we have been able to grow our client base much faster than our payroll.
We also make widespread use of Zenith’s Backup and Disaster Recovery solution these days. Prior to offering their BDR, most of our clients were using unreliable tape-based backup systems.
To learn more about partnering with Zenith Infotech, visit www.zenithinfotech.com and click "Partner Programs."
RON UNGER is president and CEO of Durham, N.C.-based WorkSmart.
This article was sponsored by Zenith Infotech.