For a fast moving industry technology managed services can be surprisingly conservative in it’s client relationships. The provision of IT services more so than ever is a complex role and can lead to a confusing choice for any client. This can lead to stagnation, inertia and in more extreme cases clients not receiving the services they have paid for. It often takes a major incident or complete change of technology to cause a company to move away from a long standing partnership. In many ways a good thing in a turbulent world where loyalty is often under valued. Yet this can sometimes lead to an atrophying of the core values that built that partnership. Here are 8 warning signs that might lead you to review your technology partner.
1. They remain mired in technology
You would expect the leadership of any great technology service business to be passionate about the services they deliver. Yet are the founders or principals a little too techy ? preferring to talk new platforms rather than the commercial pressures that you are under ? Have they invested in management and leadership training for their team so they are equal to your team in broad business knowledge?
2. Have you fast and effective escalation paths to a senior level ?
The majority of clients never cry wolf so when they have a major incident they want to be assured that their needs are being taken care of at the highest level. So if if your most senior contact within your current supplier is within the sales arena perhaps it is time for a change.
3. They do not insist on service reviews
A sure sign of complacency are they taking your valued custom for granted ?
4. They often say no rather than yes
Running a profitable, quality driven business in the technology sector is tough. It can be tempting to treat long standing clients as cash cows and not seek out new technologies and services that will benefit your customers. Ask yourself when was the last time your current supplier approached you with a new service ?
5. They do not insist on backup strategies and fail over testing
We believe that it is our role to help our clients eliminate single points of failure through regular testing, service options and well planned upgrades where applicable. It’s our job to ensure we can all sleep at night by providing testing plans and using them. Recognising your internal team will have a hundred other priorities and with the best will in the world this area can be overlooked.
6. Do they talk in a congenial manner or provide hard data ?
Whilst a good rapport is essential to a successful relationship. Great service management relies on understanding and receiving up to date information that provides a framework for discussion. This ranges from SLA attainment to data line utilisation. The ability to customise these metrics to your exact needs should be a given.
7. Have they a healthy level of staff turnover?
This might seem counter intuitive but hear me out. A staff turnover 10-20% ensures ambitious career minded colleagues will stay within the organisation. This ensures continuity of service but not at the expense of creating a career blockage so talented staff leave.
8. Is the business run for it’s clients or investors ?
Outwardly these two different methods of running a business could produce similar results. The test comes when a decision has to be made that could cost margin for the supplier. You don’t want to be requesting additional funds for an emergency PO during a major incident. Twin resolves without recourse to our agreements and then discusses with our clients the way forward when an incident is resolved not during the incident.
In summary, a great long term relationship is based on mutual respect some of the areas above are key to that.