When it comes to managed services, we find that many providers default to status quos. Conversations between end users and prospective providers often revolve around cost reduction and cleaning up ‘messy’ IT setups by taking the problem away from the end user.
But what many people don’t realise is that managed services providers can – and should – do so much more. It’s the status quo that masks the full potential that managed services offer.
That’s why we were pleased to find an article recently written by Cisco that gets under the skin of the matter and shows that the true value of managed services can be uncovered by doing one simple thing: Asking the right questions.
Let’s end the status quo
Cisco observe that the discussions you’re having with your managed services provider will probably focus on the short-term tangible benefits of cheaper IT services – with customers generally wanting the best deal they can get, which is essentially ‘more IT services for less cost’.
This isn’t anybody’s fault specifically – it just seems to be the conversation providers are having – but the end result of this is a commoditisation of goods and services. Instead, Cisco argue that IT is not looked at as a commodity as it underpins nearly everything an organisation does. We couldn’t agree more.
So, what is the real value in managed services? Cisco state that ‘maintaining the status quo for less cost and “taking the mess away so we don’t see it” prevents the customer from obtaining real value from a managed services provider’.
The questions you should be asking
All this starts with a simple conversation, and what better time to have this than during sales pitches and exploratory discussions. Cisco recommend the following 10 questions:
- How does the managed service help us compete more nimbly?
- How does the managed service help us adopt technologies more rapidly?
- How does the managed service help us transform our business to more digital-capable and cloud-consumable applications and services?
- How does the managed service provide us with transparency into IT issues without defocusing us?
- How does the managed service fix our IT infrastructure problems and optimise our environment, not just take the mess away from us?
- How does the managed service enable better collaboration and innovation within our organisation?
- How does the cost of the managed service get repaid in bottom-line contributions to efficiency and innovation?
- How does the managed service prepare us for the next technology wave rather than prevent us from catching it?
- How does the managed service encourage a partnership rather than just a business transaction?
- How quickly can the managed service program adapt to new market trends with complementary capabilities for new technologies?
Asking these questions will help you understand the value of managed services to your business now and in the future, as well as give you a solid business case with which to justify your investment. They will also help you see how committed your supplier is to eliminating your IT mess – not just moving it somewhere else.
Getting the most out of your partnership
Once you’ve asked the right questions of your provider, your attention should turn to maximising your relationship with them. Make sure you take full advantage of the benefits you discussed at the outset and always be sure to invest time and resource into your relationship with them – and always ensure you’re looking at ‘the bigger picture’ of your wider IT setup.
If you have a contract that is due for renewal within the next 6 months, be sure to act now rather than waiting 2-3 months before renewal. Use this time to assess your current partner and meet other potential suppliers. This will help you benchmark your current supplier against others to see if they are delivering value, or if it’s time for a change.
A copy of the original article from Cisco can be found here.
If you would like to discover more, why not download out Best Practice Guide to Choosing a Managed Service Provider.