When it comes to selecting a managed services or technology partner – are you shopping for those services the same way you shop for your janitorial services? You know… issuing an RFP or requesting three bids be submitted to you. If this sounds familiar… YOU ARE MISSING THE MOST IMPORTANT AND BUSINESS IMPACTING ASPECTS!
First of all, lets get this out there that there is nothing wrong with shopping for janitorial or lawn maintenance services using this methodology. And, those services are critical for a business to operate in an orderly fashion and therefore necessary. But if you are applying the same idea to the people and services that impact every one of your employees, customers, and business operations as a whole, it will come back to bite you!
Why Are Janitorial Services Not The Model To Base An RFP On?
- When shopping for janitorial services – you know the exact services you need and scope of what is to be provided. Therefore you outline exactly what is supposed to be done and potential vendors just submit their proposed pricing for those services.
- Each vendor that replies to your RFP or submits a quote is basically providing the same thing. Yes they can have staff that is more thorough or friendlier, but for the most part, a mop is a mop and the mower they use to cut the grass really doesn’t matter.
- You can tell whether or not they are doing a good job by looking at their results. Either the bathrooms are clean or not, and the sidewalks are clear of grass clippings. There is no ambiguity.
- It uses common language – you know and understand the terminology involved. Mowing, mulching, mopping, dusting… these are terms everyone knows and understands
So What Are The Unique Qualities of Managed Services That You Have To Factor In?
- For 90 percent of those that are shopping for managed services – you don’t know exactly what needs to be done or what it requires, or how to tell if it even is being done at all. You just know that you want someone to be in charge of taking care of it and you want your staff to be happy with the choice.
- EVERY vendor you get a bid from is going to handle it differently. It would be similar to saying – I want a price for a meal but not specifying whether that meal is from Taco Bell or from Ruths Chris. Every MSP provides some of what we call “The Every Body Stuff”… like monitoring, answering help desk requests, and providing software patching. But the differentiators wont be in the “Everybody Stuff”… it is going to be in the things that make each managed services provider different. Like whether or not they specialize in cyber-security or they are more geared towards desktop applications.
- You can’t necessarily see the results they are bringing in their services. It’s not that easy to physically see a more secure environment, or physically see networks running more efficiently. There are metrics but unless you know what to look for… you are going to assume everyone is doing the same type of work. Guess what… it is guaranteed they are not.
- I.T. and technology uses complex and foreign terminology – sometimes even the managed services provider doesn’t truly understand it either. Thats where having open discussions around what is going to be provided, how it will be provided and why it is important need to happen to fully evaluate the solution.
- If you are basing your decision on which solution comes in at the lowest price, it is guaranteed that you are going to miss out on something. Think about it, the salaries of qualified and certified individuals really doesn’t vary that much in a market. They will go where the market pays them the most. If someone agrees to work for 20% less than the market value, there is a reason. Either they don’t know as much as they claim they do, or they don’t have the same qualities in terms of customer service. The next thing to consider is that if there is a significant difference in price, you are not getting the same services. The labor costs, tools cost, and overhead won’t change that much. So that leaves the services they are going to provide you. But most people don’t know enough to be able to recognize something that is not being provided.
- SECURITY – this one can’t be stressed enough! With the recent uptick in data breaches and ransomware attacks, if even a small aspect of security is ignored, it can be catastrophic to your organization. This is the one area that you cannot ignore getting very specific processes nailed down and communicated from your I.T. partner.
In today’s crowded marketplace for technology services, it may appear that all MSP’s are providing the same services. In some cases they will be close but those tend to be the providers on the bottom of the list of services and pricing. Just about anyone can hang a shingle today and profess to be I.T. experts…. even if their main business is insurance, or accounting, or copiers. If you simply issue an RFP or request quotes without additional due diligence to identify what is different about the provider and services, it is guaranteed that you will miss something and/or make the decision on faulty information provided to you.