ARE ALL MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDERS CREATED EQUAL?
Imagine your phone is ringing and you answer it…
- “ring, ring”
- “hello, my name is Joe. May I take a moment of your time?”
- You agree…
- “I am from XYZ IT company. Our customers hire us as an IT sage helping their business leap into the digital transformation age ensuring they do not become Ubered. Would you be interested in learning more?”
- You are polite but tell the person on the other end of the phone that you are “very satisfied with your current provider and are not looking to change at this time.”
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
With over 15 years in technology acting as an IT Manager, IT Director, and CIO my experience is, that everyone should be happy with their IT services provider. You should be managed and not experiencing the break fix world of yesteryear. If your business is not managed, please jump to the bottom of this page and complete the How Can We Help form below. Our staff can show you how, for roughly the same spend, you will be a million times happier.
Wait! What if you really are a happy customer? This means your business is receiving monitoring and remediation of your valuable assets, transparent access to documentation and back-end ticketing systems, antivirus, security guidance, and patching. Your staff has access to a remote help desk, your business is supported by a network operations and security operations center, occasionally IT staff come onsite, your IT is governed by standards (ITIL, ISO, HIPAA, PCI) and policy management, training is provided for staff, the business receives a defined SLA, resolution guarantee and money back guarantee, etc. Yes, because of your savvy business sense you are receiving all of the stuff that it takes to proactively and responsibly manage the IT infrastructure of today’s business. If not, please heed the words above. Jump to the bottom of this page and contact us immediately. I promise you will be happier, and your business will be safer under our management. In fact, Avalon Systems guarantees it.
OK! Awesome! You have made it this far. Let me ask you 5 questions and please, feel free to bow out if I hit a chord. Really it is ok. By doing so, your business may be one of the roughly 1/3 of businesses that will not survive the next 10 years and be Ubered out of existence, you know like Radio Shack. Keep track of your answers:
1. How do you view your IT provider and technology?
A: Part of your SG&A
B: As a high valuable necessity and business partner i.e., like your accountant or attorney
2. Do you have regularly scheduled meetings with your IT provider?
3. Are your meetings with your IT provider (vCIO) primarily?
A: Operational; just a review of performance
B: Functional, valuable guidance and business driving meetings
4. Has your IT services provider helped you develop a comprehensive data loss and disaster recovery plan?
5. Does your IT services provider provide you with a service level and resolution agreement? AND Back that guarantee with a
money back satisfaction guarantee?
So, did you answer “A” to any of the questions? How many? Do you still believe that all Managed Services Providers are Created Equal? Furthermore, are you really “very satisfied with your current provider?” Then read on, and at a minimum, challenge your current provider to become a true Managed IT Satisfaction Partner or find a new one. Either way, what follows will change the way your company utilizes technology and will help ensure survival.
Do you have a vCO or vCIO?
Most Managed Services Providers, today, offer customers a consultant who should be their sage to the IT business realm. You know like Yoda was for Luke Skywalker or Marie Kreutz was for Jason Bourne. In the Managed Services world we typically call this person a vCIO or Virtual Chief Information Officer. This person should be touching base at a minimum on a monthly basis. He/She should be involved with, and in, your business, asking you questions like “who are your customers” “how do you market to customers” “how do you deliver your product” “how do you budget” and “are you in a growth phase?” This person meets with you regularly as a decision maker. He/She brings value to the discussion and really helps in providing you with a complete plan for technology. Together you develop plans on how your business will leverage your technology to move forward.
What’s that? Your Managed Services Provider’s vCIO doesn’t ask those types of questions? He/She really brings only operational statistics and your time together feels more like a “look how well we are performing” meeting. Those meetings are a review of assets and which are out of date and need replacement. Statistics such as uptime, ticket resolution and tech performance are discussed. We call that person a vCO, a true Virtual Captain Obvious. You know, he/she points out everything you already know. It’s a wonder that most businesses only delegate their IT department and its support to SG&A.
Listen, monitoring performance and statistics, knowing metrics and working to improve is a good thing. All businesses that hope to survive and grow must monitor and track progress. A reputable IT Managed Services Provider should and will provide you with information on the performance of your IT assets. However, the difference between having Captain Obvious and a Virtual Chief Information Officer often translates to higher profit margins, higher staff productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and higher growth potential.
DATA LOSS AND DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN
It is unfortunate that we live in a day where thieves and criminals are continually working to take what isn’t rightfully theirs. 47% of small businesses have experienced at least one cyberattack in the past 12 months. Just over 60% of which will be out of business within 6 months. Training employees, monitoring systems, cyber insurance and safeguarding against loss is a daunting task that most small businesses need help completing. This is where a Managed IT Satisfaction Provider steps in and supplies guidance. Sadly, nearly half of all Managed Services Providers have no solutions for customers and 70% of small businesses are left unprepared.
Just like a building loss or inclement weather plan, a small business needs a comprehensive data loss and disaster recovery plan. This plan needs to include the typical like backup policies, data retention and data usage policies. However, this plan should include information on how to respond, whom to contact, which systems are critical for restoring the business within the first hour, first three hours and those
that can wait. Your data loss and disaster recovery plan should include build information on all servers and computers in your organization and corporate data and governance policy. It documents who has access, who is of primary importance to have access restored first and the functions of those staff members. For example: Jane is a top seller and must have access to CRM/ERP systems over Steve who is the production manager. Both functions are important however, without Jane selling Steve doesn’t have a job. In my experience, even the smallest of businesses benefit from these plans which help ensure that they will survive the storm that will eventually hit.
SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT AND RESOLUTION RATE GUARANTEE
Does your IT services provider put language in their agreements like “best effort?” Do they leave out references to “SLA” “Resolution Rate” or “Guarantee?” Better yet, would your customers be fine with you not providing some type of guarantee on your product? NO! These are standard expectations in any industry; especially when providing a service. If your current Managed Services Provider doesn’t provide these and this is concerning at all to you, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page. But first, read on and learn why these are important.
A service level agreement (SLA) is a statement as to how long a provider may take to respond to an issue. In the IT services industry this time varies. An SLA can be as little as 5 minutes or exceed 24 hours. The amount of time will typically carry a monetary value with shorter being more expensive than longer. Poor Managed Service Providers even sneak in the term “best effort” as mentioned above. So what does
your business need or require in an SLA? Rule of thumb, states that the greater an impact on a business stopping issue the lower the SLA should in theory be. But, SLA’s like 99% uptime, 2-hour response really mean nothing to a business. They are good measurements but they mean nothing to most businesses. This is where real measurable statistics need to be in place such as 99% uptime that allows for 98% staff productivity. Remember, that 1% of downtime could be during your busiest time of the year and have a huge impact on production.
Resolution rate guarantee is the measurement of how many times (percentage) that a typical or standard Level 1 incident is resolved. For example, 95% resolution of all Level 1 incidents within the first call AND within 15 minutes for a phone call, 30 minutes of a chat session and 24 hours of an email. Just as with an SLA these numbers can be adjusted with higher percentages and quicker response. In the IT world, it is a calculation of staffing versus the amount a customer pays.
Here is the clincher! Does your IT services provider offer you a money back guarantee? If they do not, why? Are they afraid to provide you with World Class Customer Service or possibly afraid that they will under perform for the promises they have made? As an IT services provider, I have the ability to “fire” a customer for little or no reason. Really! I provide a 45-day termination letter and say goodbye. No recourse and nothing that a customer can do. I’ve never done this but my agreements state that I do have the right. This is standard practice in my industry. At the same time, I write service agreements that require a minimum of 1-year and many times a multi-year commitment from customers. This provides my customers the satisfaction of lower pricing and longer consistency and stability. They also provide a monthly recurring fee that does not fluctuate. My agreements provide my customers with a recourse of a money back guarantee. If they have a staff member who has a poor experience I give them twice the cost of that staff members support back for that month. Yes, this means a $145 support charge, if poor, ends up costing me $290. Not to brag, I’ve never had a customer take me up on it and never request a refund. Why, I provide the type of service that truly is world class. My staff WOW’s customers, our help desk, network operations and security operations staff are top notch. However, if a customer ever asks the money is there and I will refund it with a smile.
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