What Are The Benefits Of A Dedicated IT Service Delivery Manager?
IT service delivery managers (SDMs) often are tasked with many different (and conflicting) responsibilities. What is the role of an IT SDM? Could your business benefit from having someone dedicated to that role? If so, how can you make that happen?
In this article, we’ll look at the role of an IT Service Delivery Manager (SDM) and explore how the role eliminates wasted time and facilitates dialog between users and IT engineers.
I’ve worked in IT for 25 years and have spent about 12 of them working in service delivery management. I’ll explain the responsibilities of an SDM and why the role is important. I’ll also help you identify signs that you may be asking too much of your current SDM, and present three ways to consider adding the benefits of a dedicated SDM to your organization.
Let’s jump in!
What Is An IT SDM? What Do They Do?
In most cases, the SDM serves as an interpreter between IT engineers and end users, translating customer “asks” into engineering terminology. In an ideal world, the SDM provides additional insight and support, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Many companies combine IT responsibilities, often lumping together the roles of SDM and technical support. In other words, the SDM also may be responsible for installing racks of hardware, troubleshooting IT issues that crop up and, working with and escorting vendors, among other things.
The thinking may be that these roles are related and that combining them will maximize human resources, or save time and money. Most times, the real end result is employee and end-user frustration.
4 Signs Your IT SDM Might Be Tasked With Too Much
Nobody likes to admit it, but we all know the truth...when we’re overcommitted, nothing gets 100 percent of our attention. No matter their skills or best intentions, SDMs can only do a certain amount of work in a given day. When they are tasked with maintaining servers and desktops as well as managing client issues, something suffers.
Here are some signs your SDM may be overcommitted:
1. Long Lead-times
No matter their skills or best intentions, when an SDM is overcommitted, it will take them longer to get to customers because they are busy fending off critical user issues.
2. IT Morale Issues
Now imagine your SDM has been working through a crisis to get 500 users back online. In the meantime, s/he is fielding calls about the hardware install that was supposed to be priority number one today or the meeting to discuss the next software update.
There is no way the SDM can make everyone happy. The people waiting are growing impatient and, as much as the SDM wants to help them, an outage always takes priority. Stress and frustration mount. What does that do to the SDM's morale?
3. End-User Frustration
Now imagine that you are the person waiting for the hardware install or the person who wants to meet to discuss the next software update. In your view, the SDM is unresponsive. What damage does that do to your relationship with the SDM and, in turn, the entire IT group?
You are understandably frustrated and concerned that deadlines will now slip. You know that emergencies happen, but this is the third time this week!
When the SDM finally gets to you, you have the perception that s/he is rushing and not giving you 100 percent of their attention.
4. Damaged IT Reputation And Customer Relationship
All it takes are a few of these scenarios to play out to cause irreparable harm to the reputation of the entire IT staff. People pile on and then suddenly IT is seen as a necessary evil rather than an effective part of the team.
What Are The Advantages Of A Dedicated SDM?
For many companies, IT support is booked as an overhead expense. This contributes to the perception that it is a drag on the bottom line.
As a managed services provider (MSP), Kelser knows the benefit of IT support to daily business operations. We’ve seen the positive impact that effective IT support can make to an organization’s bottom line. Part of that positive impact comes from the important contributions a dedicated SDM makes. Dedicated SDMs facilitate effective user/IT relationships by serving as a conduit of information between both parties.
Let me explain.
When the SDM serves as the focal point for all customer issues, questions, requests and problems, users know who to turn to and get a timely response. They don’t have to take time to try to explain their issue to the technical experts. The SDM does that for them, saving the user time and frustration.
By knowing the right questions to ask, the SDM communicates the customer issue to the IT engineers in language the engineers understand, saving the engineering staff the time and energy of trying to pull the right information from the customer.
As a result, issues are resolved quicker and with less frustration all around. Overall customer satisfaction grows because the customer sees that their issues are addressed quickly and accurately the first time, building confidence and trust.
SDMs also oversee projects from proposal to completion, writing and explaining statements of work to ensure customers and technical staff know exactly what to expect from each other, saving both parties the time, energy and brain space to try to figure out what each other is saying.
Dedicated SDMs have the satisfaction of knowing they make a difference and are making positive changes for their users. They can spend time providing a holistic view and focusing on strategic initiatives and process improvements for customers, looking out for the organization's best interests not just for today, but for the long-term as well.
3 Ways To Benefit From A Dedicated IT SDM
There are a few different ways to capitalize on the effectiveness that can be achieved by having a dedicated SDM.
1. Hire A Dedicated SDM
One way to ensure that your SDM is able to focus on being an effective intermediary between users and the technical staff is by hiring an employee to take on this sole responsibility. There are pros and cons to this approach:
With an employee working as your dedicated SDM, you will reap the benefits outlined above and more. The best interests of your company will be front and center.
They will focus entirely on your organization’s needs and establish procedures to protect your business (i.e. collecting IT equipment as part of the termination process). They will provide strategic and tactical planning, and help develop budget numbers for upcoming projects or infrastructure upgrades.
Hiring an employee to be your full-time SDM can be expensive. According to Glassdoor, salaries for an SDM can range from $50,000 to over $100,000 depending on location, not to mention the hidden costs (such as benefits).
There is also the possibility that, as an employee, your SDM will be called upon to handle more urgent tasks when the IT organization is short staffed.
Another potential downfall to this approach is that the person you hire may have limited knowledge of your industry, your business and compliance issues that may affect their effectiveness.
2. Outsource The SDM Role
Your business can benefit from a dedicated SDM by outsourcing the role. Some of the pros and cons of this approach are:
This approach can provide the focus you are looking for at a fraction of the cost. Not only will you save on employee salary, but also on the hidden costs such as benefits, vacation, training and sick time, in addition to the expense of onboarding a new employee.
One of the biggest downsides of a contract SDM is that they may be tasked with multiple customers. They might not be fully able to meet your demands or schedule, and your support might suffer. They also might not understand your business or industry and the associated regulations and compliance requirements.
3. Work with an MSP that provides a dedicated SDM
Many companies contract with an MSP that provides a dedicated SDM as part of its services. This approach also offers pros and cons:
When your business engages with a managed services provider (MSP), you become a team. The MSP should take the time to get to know your organization and your priorities so they can have the best interests of your organization in mind.
SDMs need a current and continuing understanding of the IT needs of your business, the clarity and focus to respond to urgent issues, the depth of knowledge to anticipate your IT needs and the experience to provide strategic advice and direction.
Having a dedicated SDM means someone is looking out for the IT infrastructure that keeps your business moving. In addition to regular business reviews and routine monitoring/patching, a dedicated SDM understands your IT environment and works closely with the engineers to support your business.
Many business owners are hesitant to use an outside SDM because that person is unknown. It’s true that an SDM who works for an MSP is not your employee, but that doesn’t mean you can’t trust them.
A reliable MSP does its due diligence.
At a minimum, the MSP should require employee background checks and have signed nondisclosure agreements on file. Rest assured that vetting their employees is in the best interest of the MSP; after all, the MSP’s reputation is on the line. All it takes is one bad customer experience to ruin their company.
Visibility is a consideration, too. There’s a perception that if the person isn’t sitting in your physical location, other things may take priority. This perception is becoming less of an issue as more people are working remotely with little to no loss of productivity.
Cost is another consideration, but it may not be as expensive as you think. Think about the full cost (tangible and intangible) of your current IT organization: salaries, staff, benefits, training, etc.
Wondering If An MSP Can Help With Your IT SDM Needs?
Now you know the advantages of having a dedicated SDM and the different ways to get one.
A dedicated SDM might not be the right solution for every business, but if you want to improve response time, user satisfaction and employee morale, a dedicated SDM may be the solution for you.
The good news is there are different ways to make it happen and it might not cost as much as you think.
Click on this article to learn more about what IT MSPs do and how providing a dedicated SDM is just one part of the equation: What Does A Managed Services Provider (MSP) Do? (Essential & Premium Services). You might be surprised at the value and services available.