We’ve said before that when it comes to choosing which company is best for you, we believe in maximum choice. But the reality is that no two companies (and their proposed solutions) can practically be compared.
Just like apples and oranges, managed service providers are radically different. Other than the fact that managed IT providers all typically sell solutions, recommendations can vary greatly.
Our approach is always to identify the specific needs of our clients so that they can achieve their goals. Sadly, many providers walk into a sale with their own agenda, force fitting their products as an answer to a customer’s problems. On the customer side, buyers frequently focus on price because it’s so easily measured.
We’ve highlighted a few areas that we think are important for customers to remember when comparing providers and seeking their own unique, customized plan:
#1 - Look in the Mirror
As people we are often drawn to like-minded people. The same can be said about your managed IT partner. Choosing someone that reflects similar core values as your own company can be a great way to validate a vendor selection. Do they have employees with long tenure who want to stay and serve their customers because they genuinely are passionate about their work? Is there access to leadership when you need it, or will you be shuffled through a switchboard trying to find the right person when you need help? Working with a provider that has a similar culture as your own can make communication much easier, especially in the discovery phase.
#2 - Don’t Be Blinded By Short-Term Problems
We like to use the carpet snag analogy - if you start pulling one snag, you may quickly find that the fiber you are pulling is connected to another, and another, and another…unraveling even more snags you didn’t even know existed.
Keep pulling; just remember not to get dragged down by the smaller problems you encounter along the way. Most business processes are either redundant, and can easily be streamlined, or they are interconnected, and resolving them depends on addressing more than one process at a time. Stay focused on the big picture and make sure that whatever provider you go with, takes into account short and long-term strategies to achieving the overarching goals.
#3 - Read the Contract
Last, but certainly not least, know exactly what you and your partner are agreeing to. Some managed providers will give you a free analysis just to try and get a sale going. Once they are engaged, however, they may not do as thorough of an analysis if they are close to closing the deal. Other vendors may charge an upfront fee for an initial analysis of your current IT environment. While one is free, and one is for a fee, consider the value in each. Maybe it’s worth it to pay an upfront fee if it means a more thorough analysis? Whatever the approach, understanding what is, and what is not, included in a consultative sales process is important. It just might save you time and frustration later.
When searching for a solution, make sure it’s yours. Aim for total transparency - only then can you decide what makes the most sense for your organization. Which ever side of the partnership you look at, a good arrangement is one with a mutual understanding of needs, goals, capabilities, and expectations. Don’t settle for anything less.