There are many things to think through when you choose a managed services provider, and hopefully you select a provider that’s a good fit for your business. But don’t stop thinking about your managed services provider once you sign the contract. Think through how you’ll work with the provider so they can succeed in delivering services that help your business succeed.
1. Make sure you get the right services from the right provider
There are two ways to think about this. The right services are the services you need to address your business’s IT problems, whether it’s help with your network, cloud, desktop support, or security. You want to make sure you get the services you need from a provider that’s got the skills and experience to deliver them effectively. If your provider doesn’t have a background in a technology or service you need, you’ll be better off contracting with a second provider who does have that expertise, even if it means you add complexity to managing your providers.
2. Get clear about service delivery
It isn’t likely you’ll completely eliminate your internal IT team, so carefully define the boundaries around the work you’ll do yourself and the work you want the managed services provider to handle. If the contract didn’t define a detailed set of deliverables, have a meeting when the contract starts to spell out your expectations and address concerns. Along with this, carefully define the communications process so both you and the provider know how new requests will be handled and how you’ll work to resolve any problems.
3. Set metrics
You should have a plan for how you’ll evaluate the effectiveness of your managed services arrangement. Define metrics before the contract starts, and be sure to let the provider know. That way they can focus their efforts on the concerns that really matter to you. Don’t wait until the end of the contract to let the provider know if they aren’t measuring up. Do a periodic assessment and bring your concerns to them when there’s still time to make changes and get a positive result.
4. Treat the managed services provider as a member of your team
The more the provider knows about your business, the better they’ll be able to tailor the services they deliver to your business needs. While you may not want to give them all the details, if you give the provider information about your business problems and strategies, they’ll be able to give you better support that helps you meet long-term goals.
5. Let the provider do their job
Pay attention to what the provider delivers, but let them figure out how they want to provide the service. Managed services providers support many businesses, and they’ve most likely found a way of working that works for them as well as the clients they support. As long as they’re not doing something illegal, unethical, or disruptive to your business, you should focus on their results and not how they’re getting them.