How to Select a Managed Services Provider
Choosing a managed service provider for your business should go beyond a simple cost comparison. The right choice can lead to a true partnership that allows you to manage your business, optimize your operations and even differentiate yourself in the marketplace more effectively. Read on to learn about the five key factors you should consider when making your choice.
Are They a One-Stop-Shop for All Your Needs?
Evaluate the services each managed service provider offers and determine the depth of their lifecycle management solution. Think about the current state of your program, as well as its future, and what technologies or services you may need down the road. Assess whether the provider can help you navigate through this evolution, as well as each stage of the equipment lifecycle. Being able to provide hardware is important, but it's only one piece of the puzzle.
Additionally, you will want to explore whether the managed service provider handles all services in-house, with experts on-staff. If they subcontract certain elements of your program, beware that there may be longer wait times, as well as less visibility into expenses and device analytics. You may still enjoy a single point of contact on a day-to-day basis, but the quality and timeliness of your program may be compromised with too many “cooks in the kitchen.”
You should also consider the breadth of your tech fleet versus the range of a managed service provider’s tech expertise. Some companies specialize in just mobile computers and printers, while others focus on tablets or point of sale technology. Evaluate the range of equipment you have in your fleet today and how you expect that to evolve and consider whether the partner will be able to support you over time.
Are They Flexible in the Services and Programs They Offer?
You should also evaluate whether the potential partner offers flexibility in service offerings. Technology continues to evolve at a drastic rate, and you need to ensure that your partner is prepared to support you as you adapt. The industry is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to predict when you’ll need to pivot and change course. When this happens, you need to be sure your managed services provider will transition with you and help alleviate your problems rather than add to them.
Find out whether the managed service provider offers “out of the box” service packages or if they are willing to customize a program to meet your needs. Some smaller managed service providers may only offer pre-determined packages whereas more established partners typically have more bandwidth to cater to your specific requirements.
Set SLAs and KPIs to Analyze the Performance of Your Managed Service Provider
When engaging a managed service provider, set your partnership up for success and accountability by establishing clear SLAs and KPIs. Define precisely what goals need to be met and what the provider will agree to. It’s good practice to ask about historical success in meeting these metrics and verify a handful of references related to the services you will be receiving. Also, check the vendor's website to see if they provide case studies or success stories.
It’s also important to have availability and transparency in your device data and analytics. Find out whether they have a platform to provide you with real-time visibility across OEMs, service lines and anything in between. Are they able to integrate with other platforms or infrastructure you’re already using? Having a delay in reporting opens room for errors to go unnoticed for longer periods of time, so determine whether you will have full access to information and be able to run ad hoc reports or if you’ll need the provider to pull them for you. Reports should be able to be customized to accommodate the scope and timing you require.
Evaluate Where the Managed Services Provider is Located and What Size Operation They Run
The provider’s physical footprint dictates how well they can support customers across multiple time zones and borders. Ask how many facilities they have and how large/what capabilities are available at each.
It is increasingly beneficial to work with a provider with facilities across a wide range of geographic areas. If you’re working on the west coast and need something shipped for next day delivery, you’ll miss nearly half your window of opportunity if your provider’s day ends at 5 pm EST. Well-established managed services providers strategically diversify their facility locations to allow for extra support hours. Multiple locations are also critical to establishing redundancy as part of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.
Factor in the provider’s capacity and if they can scale to accommodate future projects. Choose a company that is large enough to support you as your needs evolve and has a demonstrated track record of expanding their service offerings, infrastructure and staff over time. Make sure they will still be able to support you in three, five and ten years. When partnerships are formed strategically, they withstand decades of growth and technological evolution.
Who Owns the Managed Services Company and What is Their Office Culture?
Find out who owns the company and what values they work to uphold internally. Determine whether the company is privately-owned or publicly traded. Closely held private companies have the luxury of being less affected by outside investors or quarterly earnings expectations. Public companies and private equity-backed companies may experience increased pressure to maximize profits through cost-cutting measures, and this almost always affects service quality.
It benefits to evaluate the office culture and employee tenures as well. Employees who feel more engaged want to come to the office each day and exceed customer expectations. By intentionally working with a company that values maintaining happy, long-term employees you can be sure you will receive better performance. Years of experience come with a wealth of knowledge, so the longer the average employee tenure, the more expertise the organization will have overall.
Next Steps for Choosing a Managed Service Provider
Choosing a managed service provider is an important step for any enterprise. Choosing which company to partner with is a decision you should not take lightly or rush. Develop a list of requirements based on everything discussed above and do not settle. Keep these points in mind, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a long, successful future.
At TRG, our managed services team has partnered with 5,000+ industry-leading organizations to help them create and support seamless management experiences on a global scale. Contact us to talk with one of our team members today.
TRG is a global managed solutions provider focused on mobility, point of sale and payments. With facilities across the United States, Canada and Europe, we provide the most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services – from warehouse to boardroom and deployment to retirement. Our mission is to Make Technology Simple, helping customers accelerate projects, drive application success, improve employee/customer experience and maximize ROI. We’re relentless in our drive to find innovative, effective ways to enhance customer operations and challenge conventional thinking along the way. Learn more about why The Difference Is Us at www.trgsolutions.com.