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Will your managed service become a vintage one?

Many organisations use managed services to give them the operational breathing room to focus on their core business, whilst having the confidence that the “other things” are being handled. As the managed service matures over time, some will develop, like a fine wine, to be enjoyed for many years to come. Others however, will unfortunately turn into sour vinegar that would be better served on a bag of fish and chips.

Therefore if you find yourself tasked with setting up a managed service the following three areas should certainly be on your “need to address” list.

Partners

If you’re involved in setting up a managed service, would you dare challenge a managed service provider’s (MSP) relevant partnerships by getting them to run stress test scenarios? I.e. is their “Gold Partner” status really all it’s cracked up to be?

MSPs will often tout the value of their “Gold Partner” status (with relevant vendors) and all the benefits that this will bring to the relationship. However asking for examples of when these have previously been brought to bear at other engagements can often prove extremely enlightening.

Question if the MSP actively participates in joint thought leadership, roadmap discussions or training programmes. Otherwise you may very well find yourself in a position where you have handed over the keys, only to be left stranded whilst the much-touted partnership is actually no more than an acquaintance. The potential knock on effect to your brand and customers could end up costing you more than a reciprocal claim for liquidated damages.

People

The headline benefit figures presented by a MSP will no doubt highlight that your organisation will save money by opting for a managed service.

However, if the terms of a managed service agreement result in an existing department being TUPE’d across, you really need to examine the “value-add” question very hard indeed.

When niche technical skills, deep company knowledge of legacy systems or barriers to entry for a particular business sector come into play, you may actually end up scoring an own goal, which results in paying for your old resources but at a vastly inflated price.

Flexibility

Have you thought about and allowed enough flexibility in your MSP contract to avoid leaving yourself stuck when your conditions change?

It is all too common to try and get the managed service contract to cover absolutely every eventuality. In reality you’ll never achieve this and may take false comfort in thinking you have.

In DMW’s experience managed services work best when there is a well-understood and timely mechanism to adapt to the inevitable change request, coupled with a mutual understanding that both parties need the relationship to be commercially viable.

If this aspect is done well, you’ll retain the ability to change tack quickly and stay competitive in the market place without unnecessary bureaucracy and protracted contract renegotiations hampering you, preventing potential new business opportunities just passing you by.

Summary

As noted above, it is vital to do the appropriate due diligence when contracting. Speed to signature is all well and good, however if not done properly, the envisaged benefits will not materialize, and instead you’ll be left with a sour taste in your mouth.