When qualifying managed services partners, look for companies that are focused on enabling positive business outcomes for you and your customers and that have the flexibility to support you in multiple ways.
Step one is to determine what kind of model will work best for you. There are a range of options and your partner should be flexible enough to support every one of them, or change over time as your needs evolve.
At the high end, you might need pure managed services where you fully out-task all elements of your IT management and remediation. If you need a foundation on which to layer your own resources, consider the Platform-as-a-Service option. If it makes more sense to augment your service desk with certain features of a partner’s service desk, you should ask if they support co-managed services.
There are even hybrid options, such as build-operate-transfer (BOT), in which the partner manages your customers’ IT environments and eventually transfers that management over to you.
Next, make sure your provider is someone who will do more than just partner with you. You are going to be joined at the hip for the foreseeable future, so you need to find a comfortable and complementary fit.
Whatever your service model, your partner will be an extension of your organization, so make sure they are able to accommodate your organization’s vision, culture and capabilities. They are going to build a joint go-to-market strategy with you, so make sure they have the necessary talent and experience. Make sure they have the right personality. At the end of the day, you want them to make your life easier, not harder.
Also make sure they understand your needs and your customers’ needs. Have them provide references of how they tailored their services to a customers’ specific requirements. How smoothly did it go? It helps if they can provide you with a unified IT service management platform as a launching pad. Ask them to demonstrate how they will:
- Help you provide managed services that are better-faster-cheaper and that enable your customers to focus on their business outcomes.
- Maximize the potential of your relationships with existing and new customers.
- Exceed the expectations of your most challenging customers and build trust by solving your customers’ biggest challenges.
- Alleviate the pain of the typical barriers to entry into managed services.
Here are some types of services to consider – and remember to ask if they have an ITIL-aligned service portfolio:
- Advisory services – This is a suite of services in which the partner understands the infrastructure and helps you set the strategy.
- Deployment services – These are services in which the partner leads the effort to procure, stage and implement the infrastructure.
- Maintenance services – While most of the services are proactive, it is often necessary to have a basic – and highly responsive – break/fix maintenance service.
Note: Some of the key checkboxes for services include incident management, asset management, event management, problem management, service-level management, orchestration, and performance management.
Your partner should empower you to manage complex IT environments. That means on-prem, hosted cloud, and hybrid IT offerings and environments. Here are some key questions to help guide your due diligence:
- How will you make my organization more proactive?
- What sales and marketing initiatives do you offer?
- How will you support me during mergers & acquisitions?
- How will you help me enter new markets?
- Can you support multiple technology towers? (e.g., route/switch, voice, network, data center)
- What is your speed to market?
- What analytics do you provide?
- How do you help me reduce costs?
- What is your security posture?
- How much will you reduce my team’s workload?
- How do you handle workflows and automations?
- How well do you scale?
- How quickly can you help me adapt to emerging technologies?
Your partner should help you reach your mutual goals and objectives – including closing business. After all, you aren’t making any money operating your infrastructure. You want your partner to help you create new and enhance existing revenue streams.
You want your partner to demonstrate how they will drive up your CSAT. That means you want to make sure your customers recommend your service and that you have a high Net Promoter Score. That means mitigating your customers’ risk. And the best way to manage out risk is to provide innovative offerings.
Good luck with your search!