Good Questions to Ask…

Don’t Get Caught in Your Vendor’s Business Model Transition

You cannot serve two masters. Some would say it’s Biblical, I also think it is good business sense. I am seeing a LOT of companies jump on the “managed” bandwagon. Whether it’s managed IT, security, phones, lawn care….okay maybe not lawn care as much!

What is concerning  is the “me-too” providers, attempting to transition to the managed service delivery model without the prerequisite experience and commitment to it.  This is not something that can be copied from an established group, plugged into a pricing sheet and sold without a lot of DELIVERY experience.

I am not saying businesses can’t grow, pivot, and change…happens all the time!  What I am saying is that YOU do not want to be part of their transformation.  Technology is too critical in today’s businesses to mess around with.  To keep this from happening ask these simple questions to any group that is proposing managed services to you:

  1. What percentage of your current Clients are under the arrangement they are proposing to you?  This will tell you how far along they are in their business transition to managed services.  Any group with less than 60% of their Clients under this arrangement is still “transitioning” and may struggle with certain aspects of service delivery.
  2. Do they offer other plans/models?  It is a huge red flag when the group still offers as-needed, project, and other one-off support services.  In a well-run managed provider it’s an all or nothing proposition, you cannot serve both managed and hourly Clients out of the same resource pool.
  3. Is the Agreement term less than 12 months?  Established managed services providers would never do less than a 12 month agreement.  Why?  Because the mature providers understand that this model will require long-term planning and investment in the systems and people to deliver a best-in-class experience.  Selling month-to-month agreements does not allow that to happen.
  4. If the answer to #2 is no, then what is the renewal rate of your Agreements?  It should be more than 80% in a well-run group.
  5. What is your average Client size? Am I the smallest? Largest? Ideally you want to be slightly above the average and never the largest! This will ensure you are taken care of well but not so large that they are constantly “figuring out” how to handle an account so large.
  6. How long have you been offering THIS service plan? Less than 24 months means that they are still in the early days of aligning their business around this delivery model. Proceed with caution!

Written by: Edward Stringfellow