There’s no doubt about it, managed services can help your business grow. To get the most out of your managed services provider, you’ll need to develop a strong, strategic partnership.
Experienced managed services providers offer strategic solutions across many different industries. They enable your company to grow by navigating complex and rapidly changing IT environments. They solve your content trust and safety issues. They conduct quality assurance tests and optimize your latest software solutions. Managed services providers can also safely manage your customer information and help your company keep its data clean and in compliance.
By filling in technological and talent gaps and solving critical challenges, managed services providers create the space your company needs to focus on its core competencies and long-range business goals.
But first, you’ll want to be prepared to get the most out of your managed services provider.
Here are four steps to get the job done.
Step 1: Consider your company’s needs
As you consider partnering with a managed services provider, you’ll want to take a close look at your company’s needs. Are you looking to address specific challenges such as data integrity issues or content trust and safety concerns? Or, perhaps you need to improve your customer satisfaction ratings by bolstering your product support services and customer support teams.
“Vaco Managed Services builds and manages outsourced content teams around content curation, trust and safety, and content merchandising. We also build customer support teams and technical teams around machine learning and artificial intelligence — specifically around software development. And we also do incubation. Here in Silicon Valley, and in a lot of other startup communities, being able to outsource and build incubation teams around very nascent startup workflows is valuable,” says Vaco Managing Partner Jim Jhanda.
Having a clear idea of your company’s requirements lays the groundwork for getting the most out of your managed services provider while simultaneously helping you decide which managed services provider best fits your needs.
And that’s a beautiful introduction to step two of how to get the most out of your managed services provider.
Step 2: Choose the right managed services provider
Just like your favorite pair of jeans, a successful partnership starts with a great fit. Once you’ve developed a list of your company’s most pressing needs, it’s time to get to work on choosing the right managed services provider. You’ll want to consider the provider’s experience, reputation, technological resources, talent pool, and performance measures.
If the provider has the exact experience you need, that’s fantastic! If they don’t have the precise track record you’re looking for, but they’re willing to think creatively and have the talent, drive, and flexibility to get the job done, you may have found your match.
“We can move at a lot faster pace with less bureaucracy than our largest competitors and we do it at price points that are typically 25-30% lower,” notes Jhanda. “The biggest differentiator between managed services and staff augmentation or doing it in-house is this: it’s freedom.”
A good service provider won’t try to sell you on a one-size-fits-all solution. Vaco Managed Services, for example, works closely with clients to develop custom, end-to-end playbooks that align with industry best practices.
Step 3: Define your goals carefully and clearly
Whether you’re still exploring your options or you’re ready to start working with a managed services provider, you need clear and intentional goals.
These goals should form the foundation of your service level agreement (SLA). The SLA is a way for your company to gauge the performance of your managed services provider — in fact, these agreements are what makes managed services different from staff augmentation.
Well, that and freedom.
Unlike a staff augmentation model, in which your company is responsible for hiring and managing temporary workers to achieve desired outcomes, managed services providers are responsible for everything from talent management to performance.
Since the responsibility for performance rests with your provider, you’ll want to make sure that they’re achieving exactly what you need them to achieve.
As you access tools, talent, and technologies through a managed services provider, you can work toward goals that are related to:
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee satisfaction
- Market share
- Cost reduction
- Cash flow
Step 4: Develop a relationship with your managed services provider
Set your company and your managed services provider up for success by committing to open and regular communication.
As with any successful relationship, healthy communication that identifies a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities is critical. Make sure that you meet with your provider regularly — whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly — to review progress and assess outcomes.
Remember, the value of the relationship lies not only in the delivery of service but also in the quality of the service.
At the start of your partnership, you and your service provider should set expectations and clearly define which stakeholder is responsible for what. It’s important to understand that oversights may occur. If you’re prepared, you can react quickly and positively.
Which is why we advocate for regular reviews and open communication with your managed services provider. The earlier these gaps can be identified and fixed, the happier everyone will be!
Finally, don’t be afraid to set expectations. If you need to receive data in a certain format, ask for it. If you have particular workflows that need to be followed, be clear about it. If your CEO needs specific metrics on demand, let your service provider know.