Managed Services vs. Managed Digital Transformation for Associations


Managed services or transformation services?
As association leaders, we are finding that the old models for staffing, strategic planning and operations are insufficient to support digital transformationmanaged IT services (aka. ‘outsourcing’) have been a ‘go-to’ strategy for many organizations seeking to stabilize, standardize and simplify their technology operations.
Yet, stable operations alone will not serve the need to respond to the change forces in our industry. Ironically, stasis often conspires with stability to create a false sense of security.  Instead, disruptive forces should challenge us to re-consider how we acquire the resources we need to transform our organizations.
What is needed is a new business model that supports innovation, promotes stability, and contributes to organization strategy.

Comparison of Models of Managed Services and Digital Transformation

Traditionally, managed services providers (aka. ‘outsourcers’) have focused their services on reduction of operating expense, stabilizing service levels, and implementing well-worn methodologies to construct and comply with contractual service level agreements.  These arrangements serve to standardize service levels, but leave little room for innovation and transformation.
The result is a ‘your mess for less’ proposition. This model works great for organizations with massive scale, huge volume of transactions, and/or who are unable to attract expensive technical talent. If your business generates lots of transactions, the outsourcers can combine your ‘data processing’ with services provided to others at lower cost. These arrangements are fundamentally built on the premise of minimizing the effects of change.
However, when driven by customer expectations of the digital economy and coupled with relatively low transaction volume, the old managed services model breaks down quickly for associations and non-profits.
Prior to the advent of cloud technologies, most managed services providers adopted the outsourcing model.  These organizations have legacy infrastructures and rigid process models that must be amortized over long periods of time. Thus, upgrading to the cloud is expensive and time-consuming.  The bottom line for associations adopting a traditional managed services model is that innovation may only be realized through great effort and expense.

Bridging the Gap

Change is hard for most organizations; even more so when starting from scratch on something as important as digital transformation.  Yet, when there is a deep understanding of the strategy, goals and objectives of the organization, it is possible to enhance the customer experience, promote innovation, and apply know-how to improve operations.
Not to belabor the point, but worn-out consumption-based models for managed services just don’t fit the challenges of the modern-day association.  Managed transformation services provide a new means to collaborate and fully participate in the strategy to operations value chain. This is necessary because, successful digital transformation cannot succeed absent a deep understanding of both the business and technology challenges facing the association.
Managed Transformation Services are focused on the synergy between business and technology transformation.  One does not happen without the other…
Managed Transformation Services can bridge the divide between traditional, “your mess for less” options short on innovation and the urgent need to extend in-house expertise, capacity and customer satisfaction.

Managed Transformation Services

Managed Transformation Services represents an evolution of the rigid, consumption based managed services model.  Managed Transformation Services for Associations encapsulates services in three areas critical to successful digital transformations:

  • Strategy,
  • Change Management, and
  • Operations Management.

“Born in the cloud” is a phrase used often these days.  Cloud-based technology powers the disruptive forces that enable the Uber, Amazon, and Google economy to which we’ve grown so accustomed.  Managed Transformation Services are focused on coupling cloud technology, proven change leadership, and stable operations process.

Questions to consider when choosing a Partner

When considering a partner to help you on your digital journey, it is important to answer these questions.

About your Association

  1. Where is your association on the change continuum? Just starting the digital journey or well on the way?
  2. Are you happy with the current state of your business and IT Operations? Are members and staff productive and satisfied with the available tools?
  3. Do you feel that your organization is behind-the-times or missing opportunities due to technical or business process limitations? Are new products and services constrained by old school technologies or partnerships?
  4. What internal resources are available to manage the digital transformation? Does your staff have the know-how to make the journey alone? Can they successfully manage this change?

About your (potential) Partner

  1. What is the business model of your managed services provider? Outsourcer or Managed Transformation Services?
  2. Do they emphasize change management and strategy along with stabilization and cost reduction? Are these provided at additional cost or are they part of your service level agreement?
  3. Are they ‘cloud first’ or do they have expensive legacy hosting infrastructures that need to be amortized? If they own their own server hardware… it’s a good sign that they are ‘old school’.
  4. How much association experience does their team possess? Do they have the association-specific C-level leaders, technical staff and cloud partnerships to make you successful?