With a host of proven business benefits including greater security and improved efficiencies, managed file transfer (MFT) has been one of the leading B2B communication solutions for years. When it comes to managed file transfer, companies must decide which service option they wish to use, meaning who is going to be responsible for the MFT technology and related tasks. The most common options are self-service, managed services, or blended services.
For some businesses that go the self-service route, it may be the best choice for them during the initial implementation and deployment phase. However, there may come a time when it makes sense to switch from self-service to managed services.
Below we highlight seven advantages of MFT managed services and when companies may benefit from pursuing managed services.
1. Greater System Uptime
Companies may discover the self-service approach leads to greater system downtime. This is because companies with the self-service models may not have extensive training, background knowledge, or specialized skills with the managed file transfer software. They may not know all the tips and tricks to get the technology and integrations to run smoothly either.
Companies that utilize managed service providers will likely experience greater system uptime. This is due to a few different reasons. The first is because the service providers are experts when it comes to the technology. Therefore, they can cut through complexities, fix errors quickly, and implement and deploy the technology more successfully.
Additionally, companies can look for managed service providers that offer 24/7 support. This is critical because if the MFT technology crashes outside of a business’s regular hours of operation, there is still a team of people who will be quickly notified of the issue and can hop into fixing the problem.
Business continuity is highly important in today’s fast-paced world, as customers and trading partners have lots of options when it comes to who they conduct business with. Hence, why companies need to maintain the highest level of system uptime to keep customers satisfied so they remain loyal and return for repeat business.
2. Error Resolution
Errors in file transfer can cause severe disruptions to business operations and supply chains. Oftentimes with self-service MFT, errors can go unnoticed for extended periods of time. When a company finally does become aware of an issue, the impact is substantial.
Even if a company realizes there is an error, it may not know where in the system it is occurring and why. Furthermore, once they determine where the issue is stemming from, they then must figure out how to address and fix the issue. This process (or lack of processes) wastes valuable time. And time … is money.
However, managed MFT services are experts with the technology as they deal with it daily. They have experience with a vast assortment of errors and issues. Since they specialize in the technology, they can immediately jump right into fixing an error as soon as they are notified that an issue occurred. This not only promotes business continuity, it also improves customer relationships due to fewer errors, disruptions, and downtime.
3. Access to Experts
It is possible for companies to deploy managed file transfer software successfully on their own. However, there are times when questions or concerns arise. When utilizing the self-service approach for MFT, companies may find that they do not have anyone to answer their burning questions or concerns as some MFT software providers become unresponsive after initial deployment.
Additionally, these experts are in the weeds of managed file transfer software daily. Thus, they know the ins and outs of the technology which makes them highly knowledgeable and efficient when it comes to implementing the technology, reducing complexities, fixing errors, onboarding new trading partners, maintenance, and updates, answering questions, and more.
Lastly, even though MFT has been around for years, best practices are still constantly evolving, making it difficult for companies that employ the self-service model to stay abreast of the ever-changing trends. Conversely, MFT managed service providers are aware of all the best practices, ensuring the technology is always up-to-date and operates at peak performance to keep your business competitive.
4. The Cloud
On-premise managed file transfer solutions were the standard until the cloud came along. Over the past few years, demand for cloud-based managed file transfer software has greatly increased as the benefits become increasingly advanced and refined.
The availability of cloud-based managed file transfer solutions has not only ushered a suite of new features and capabilities for businesses, but it has also improved managed services. Companies can outsource all their MFT-related tasks and responsibilities to a managed service provider who will handle everything remotely via the internet.
Conversely, companies that use on-premise managed services often encounter higher costs due to having to purchase physical hardware and technology, along with requiring in-person maintenance and updates. It also takes longer to perform updates, maintenance, and onboarding because they do not occur automatically and remotely like cloud solutions. Someone must physically perform these functions.
Additionally, with on-premise MFT managed services it takes longer to fix errors for the same reason. That is, if an error occurs, the managed service provider likely must physically go to the on-premise technology to fix the error.
5. Integration and Onboarding Simplified
Onboarding and setting up new trading partner integrations is one of the most frequent actions businesses perform regarding MFT. This is because every time a new trading partner or customer enters the picture, an integration between the two parties needs to be set up.
Businesses utilizing the self-service approach may find this process to be time-consuming or they may simply not have the internal bandwidth to handle a sudden influx of onboarding requests. Or maybe the integrations simply fail and are unsuccessful. This is where managed services can help.
Managed services can tackle every onboarding request and will ensure integrations are implemented successfully. Therefore, businesses will not have to worry about handling onboarding requests that often appear sporadically. Lastly, sometimes trading partners and customers switch their integration requirements, thus businesses must update their integration. This task can also be handled by MFT managed service providers.
6. Reduced Costs
The cost of internal MFT services can add up quickly. This is because it requires dedicated employees to monitor, maintain, and manage the physical hardware, as well as the software and digital processes. Additionally, there are usually only a few (or one) team members who focus on managed file transfer solutions. This means that when an error occurs, there are only a few people to determine how to fix an issue. If no one on the team knows how to address an issue, they will have to outsource the error to someone else who can fix it — an additional cost.
Furthermore, companies will have to invest in additional resources, trainings, and workshops to keep internal MFT employees up to date on all the latest managed file transfer trends and best practices. Lastly, it is hard to gauge business demand, causing companies to frequently over-hire or under-hire employees, meaning the company will not be operating at peak efficiency.
On the other hand, managed service providers have a much larger team of employees who specialize in managed file transfer solutions. Their employees also work on multiple different accounts, providing them with experience in a wide variety of situations in the MFT space. Therefore, if an error or question arises, they have a vast knowledge base they can tap into to quickly address any given problem or scenario.
Managed services can reduce MFT costs because not only are they highly skilled at fixing errors, but they can also fix them quickly. Fixing errors quickly provides greater uptime which keeps customers happy, so they remain clients, as well as allows for greater business continuity.
Managed service providers also often operate 24/7 further increasing system uptime. This is because if an error occurs outside of a company’s operating hours, the managed service provider will be notified of the issue immediately and can hop into fixing it. Without managed services, a company may not realize there is an issue until the business opens again, thus the disruption will be much larger.
Lastly, MFT-managed service providers are the ones responsible for providing the appropriate amount of talent to handle the demand. Therefore, companies do not have to worry about over-hiring or under-hiring employees to fit evolving demand levels.
7. Internal Bandwidth
Companies frequently experience changes in demand. This could be due to the cyclical nature of business, an industry's ‘busy season’, greater needs, trends, etc. Hence, it can be hard to predict demand and hire accordingly.
Such unexpected changes can strain teams that do not have enough employees to tackle sudden spikes in demand. On the other hand, companies may over-hire, and then during slow periods employees may have nothing to do.
Managed through these changes in demand is another reason managed service providers are often so helpful. Companies do not have to worry about hiring the perfect amount of people to match the ebb and flow in demand needs. That is instead the responsibility of the provider. Therefore, companies never have to worry about over-hiring or under-hiring employees to complete the job and will not waste time and money trying to predict how they will accommodate demand levels.
Deciding if self-service or managed services is the best option will depend on each company and their specific needs. Additionally, a company may choose one approach only to later discover they might benefit from switching to the other method. Business constantly changes and so will the needs.
With that said, managed services offer numerous benefits to the companies that utilize them. From greater uptime and cost-savings, to quicker error resolutions and simplified onboarding, managed services providers make excellent strategic partners to help businesses reach their goals.
MFT Managed Services with Cleo
We offer fully managed MFT services, from initial setup and implementation, to deployment, new customer onboarding, maintenance, updates, and more. If your business is not quite ready for fully managed services, we also provide a blended service package which is a hybrid of self-service and managed services, as well as a fully self-service approach.