Introduction to IT Managed Service Providers

The trend for many organisations to outsource their IT requirements to an IT managed services provider has largely been driven by the rise in popularity of cloud based infrastructures. This new marketplace has created a mixture of services providers with a variety of capability a reputation.

So, in this varied landscape how does a buyer choose the best managed services provider that can best meet their needs? We have compiled a rough guide aimed at helping procurement and IT buyers to shortlist and select the most relevant and suitable supplier.

Beware the reseller of the reseller.

There’s plenty of IT managed service providers out their, some have taken the time and effort to research their own vendor relationships others just resell the work of others. Whilst you’ll be told that a reseller’s SLA is transferable, in reality, it isn’t and often creates needless confusion at the point of 1st and 2nd line support. Investigate the nature of their vendor relationships and ensure they have the ability to escalate an issue without depending on a 3rd party that could sit outside of your commercial partnership.

What company do they keep?

A service providers client list can often shed light on their capability and underpin their reputation. Look for clients in the financial services marketplace; this industry often requires the most stringent of support due to the nature of their business. If they have hedge funds, investment managers or private banks it’s a true indication of service and support prowess. If they can keep these task master happy they’ll be able to keep you in the pink. Also, look for multinationals or organisations with multiple offices. Typically these businesses need 24/7 multilingual support, a test for any service provider.

Finally, ask how long they have had a client. Managed service provider contracts are typically over 24 months to help bring costs down, so anything over this period can suggest a client has renewed with them; indicating a happy client.

Financially fit?

As with any outsourced contract ensure your contract has provision in the event of the supplier going bankrupt or worse! Remember the fall of 2e2 that left 100’s of clients unable to access their systems or data until the administrator had found a suitable buyer. Seek assurance that their is a process in place that enable you to access your data in the event of a supplier not being able to continue trading. On this point don’t believe big is better, there are plenty of large managed service providers who have extended their credit and theirs plenty of small organisations who carry little debt and therefor little risk.

High staff churn?

Don’t be impressed with high support staff numbers. Most organisations can benefit from working with ‘straight to 2nd line support’ who, rather than waiting for an incident to escalate through the ranks of support engineers, can get direct access to an analyst with the experience and capability to resolve the matter in an instant. Another key factor to the longevity of your supplier is their staff churn number. “How many support staff have they had in the last 2 years?”, web sites like glassdoor.com offer real internal insight into the machinations of a support desk.

The SLA is king?

Not really. Most SLA’s guarantee to answer a call within 2 minutes but offer no guarantees as to when they’re going to fix the issue. Again, look at the qualification of 1st line support staff, if they’ve just joined or left their engineering degree from Bristol, chances are they’ll be login cases for an expensive but over worked 2nd line support engineer who’s too busy looking for another job to solve the same cases that his management team are unprepared to fix.

If you’re looking to outsource your IT to a managed services provider who ticks all the boxes please contact us.