When it comes to providing managed IT services to your customers there is no one-size-fits-all model. Depending on the size, maturity and capability of your organization, you can build out the services on your own or you can partner:
- Roll your own. You can choose to become a managed service provider (MSP) on your own. But if you are a smaller shop, the barriers to entry are significant. The challenges of putting together a team with the requisite expertise, building the offering, and rolling out the service can be overwhelming and can significantly increase your time-to-market. If you go this route, make sure you have the right in-house resources.
- Partner up. Even if you are an existing MSP looking to add new services or improve the services you provide, it might make sense to partner rather than to build from the ground up. There are many benefits to partnering. You get to expand your portfolio of offerings and deliver a service without incurring the cost of having to develop it yourself.
Whether you’re an MSP looking to expand or a VAR launching an MSP practice, there are several engagement models that can cater to your specific needs when it comes to working with a partner. Let’s look at three alternatives.
Routes to Engagement
One route is to resell the service, but in such a way that you maintain your brand and identity. The partner's offering is deployed as an integral part of your portfolio and doesn’t feel like a third-party operation to your clients. You have the ability to resell the partner service – but you can define the customer experience and maintain your organization’s personality even as it’s delivered. To the end customer, you are the provider. Your partner administers and operates the service but manages customer interaction in a manner that is completely transparent.
The next approach is to for you to consume the partner’s offering as a service. In this case, the partner manages the service and handles day-to-day administration and upkeep, while you get to maintain the service desk and handle all customer interaction. This option is probably the way to go if you already have a service desk in place and just want to enhance or expand your existing offerings.
If your organization has the technical expertise and resources to take on more, there is a third option: the pure platform play. You can source the operational platform and use your own resources to administer the network and operate the service desk. The partner provides the initial training and setup and then steps back to provide ongoing support according to a predefined maintenance agreement.
The Right Relationship
No matter what your engagement model is, the key to success in each of these scenarios is the nature of your relationship with your partner.
It pays to be selective and to do your research up front before signing on the dotted line. After all, the right partner with the right capabilities lays the foundation upon which the health of your organization’s business services depends. In fact, you’ll find that there is a direct correlation between your partner’s ability to deliver and your end-customer’s satisfaction.
The right partner can enhance your organizational abilities well outside the realm of simple service delivery: They make it possible for you to focus on your strengths, such as managing your business, while they complement and augment your abilities.
The additional capabilities added to your portfolio allow you to further maximize the potential of your relationships with existing customers – and to make yourself more appealing as you approach new customers.