Plan & Implement

When it is time to look for a managed services provider, it’s time to pinpoint what’s important to your organization in a partner is before the relationship begins.

Outsourcing the management of your technology should be a way for CIOs to increase their service levels and, many times, decrease their costs in the process. The key to choosing the right managed services partner is a through up-front investigation of their services and policies, and a drilling down into the way they conduct their business by knowing what questions are critical to ask.

6 Critical Questions to Ask a Potential Managed Services Partner

  1. Does the provider offer a dedicated resource to service your account?
    Managed Services are comprised of numerous agents and engineers, all standing ready to respond to issues on your behalf. The shared resource model is what makes this cost effective. But it’s possible to have both a shared pool of resources and a dedicated resource that knows your account and becomes part of your team. A provider that is willing to dedicate a core resource to a client’s account means they become intimately experienced and expert in their primary customers’ businesses.
  2. Does the provider have central metrics and reporting?
    Effective managed services must have detailed tracking and reporting capabilities; with these kinds of metrics, the team can identify patterns, helping the client become proactive in addressing recurring issues, instituting training or inserting knowledge-based directives into a self-service portal. Identifying and addressing such patterns not only increases service levels, but it drives down the customer’s costs.
  3. Are the provider’s service hours flexible?
    Most managed service providers should operate on a 24/7/365 schedule. Since one of the biggest advantages of outsourcing the management of your technology is the availability of resources around the clock, make sure your provider is able to deliver that.
  4. What does the service provider’s price model look like?
    One of the most important questions to ask a prospective partner is whether or not their service levels are tiered. Not all technology and devices need the same level of monitoring. You want to make sure your critical systems are able to have a higher level of monitoring and management and keep non-critical systems at a lower management tier to save money.
  5. What do the SLAs really promise?
    Make sure the SLAs you are agreeing to exceed industry standards.  What happens if the provider misses a SLA? Look for a provider who will pay a penalty fee if they do not meet the agreed upon target resolution times.  Many companies will only strive to meet response times.  Watch out for SLAs based on response times vs. resolution times.
  6. Is there room to customize communication?
    Many ITSM tools used by managed service providers allow customers set their own preferences for communication during ticket resolution between email, phone, or a self-service portal? Customer should be able to make change approvals from anywhere, including mobile devices. 

Next Step: Manage