- SLA — Every true outsourced application management relationship is defined and measured by a broad, transparent, and solid service level agreement (SLA). SLAs are a familiar concept regarding IT systems management, as they provide an outcome-based set of benchmarks. However, they are not a “one size fits all” solution. SLAs must be retrofitted for the markets, business processes, and business operations of the systems they’re governing. When analyzing the SLA of a potential managed services firm, ask the following clarifying question: “Will this SLA improve the way my business operates?”
- Processes — The creation and implementation of operating processes—an area of significant maturity in the IT outsourcing space—will translate nicely to CTRM managed services. When professionally developed and stringently adhered to, operating processes are the hallmark of well-managed systems. As you evaluate the viability and effectiveness of a managed services provider, dig into their operating guides, process manuals, and the staff’s training on procedures that are specific to your business and specific to the application being managed. These factors serve as great indicators of the professionalism and level of confidence you can have, should you move forward with this provider.
- Personnel and Staffing — Application outsourcing and managed services require a full-time commitment. The firm’s staff will manage all interactions with your organization, shadow your team members, and manage your systems and programming. This staff should be robust enough to provide support 24 hours a day and provide that support at a higher level than you could provide in-house. Redundancy isn’t a conversation limited to hardware or facilities—it should also include personnel. In addition to the size and expertise of the staff, the firm also has a responsibility to keep all team members current on your software’s technology updates, capability changes, and trends.
- Strategy — The managed services firm you choose has a responsibility to provide world-class application support, and to do so, it must have a clearly defined strategy which guides all activity and is constantly refined. A lack of focus on strategy can lead to confusing business models, misaligned priorities, and competing resources. To offer 24/7, expert-driven, top-quality support for your systems, this firm must demonstrate a strong discipline concerning all necessary competencies. Specifically, you must ensure your managed service isn’t hijacked by a conflict between utilization and hourly driven services. You must also ensure your managed service isn’t diluted by a least common denominator approach, in which horizontal, readily available resources—as are prevalent in general IT outsourcing—are used. If you understand the strategic focus of your partner, you can effectively build a fruitful, long-term relationship with your application managed services vendor.
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