8 ways to mess up your managed services
Here at Cognition24, we don’t like to follow the herd. Instead we prefer to apply fresh thinking to everything we do, in order to help find the best solutions to our customers’ unique challenges.
So, rather than talk about how to make managed services work for you (predictable!), we think it’d be more helpful – and way more fun – to look at the ways organisations well and truly mess up this particularly tricky area of outsourcing (fresh thinking!).
We also hope you’ll find some new lessons in here that are valuable for your own business.
So, based on the experiences of Tim and Andy, Cognition24’s leadership team, here are the top eight ways we’ve seen organisations get managed services horribly wrong.
1. Hire a provider with little or no product knowledge
Sure, you could always hire real experts who know the tech inside out and create bespoke solutions. “But where’s the fun in that?” says Andy, Cognition24’s MD. “Those people can look quite pricey up front, because they actually know how much time key tasks are going to take. Instead, go for a business that offers you a basic, off-the-peg, one-size-fits-all solution. After all, think of the fun you’ll have explaining all those invoices for unforeseen work to your budget stakeholders.”
2. Make sure the new provider offers no flexibility whatsoever
Inevitably, you’re going to have occasional problems with your service that could be resolved with a 60-second phone call. But the phone’s so impersonal, isn’t it? “To bump up costs, far better to make sure your provider logs every phone call as a ‘case’, requiring a personal and billable visit,” says Tim, Cogntion24’s Commercial Director.
3. Don’t deal with those annoyingly ‘proactive’ solutions providers
No one likes a know-all, do they? So don’t hire someone who’ll be forever identifying pain points and offering solutions without being asked. “To be sure of disaster, you want a more traditional relationship with your provider: one where you keep calling them to ask the same question over and over, without them ever coming up with a solution or even suggesting additional training for your people,” says our chief know-all, Andy.
4. Ignore people who say that managed services should be a strategic partnership
Partnership, schmartnership. Do you really want to drive strategic value from your managed services? Or bother with all of that tosh about enabling continuous improvement? “Sounds like such a drag, doesn’t it?” says Tim.
5. Shun the notion of transparency of costs
Ask no questions and you’ll be told no lies. “If you really want to mess up, you really need to take initial quotes at face value,” says Tim. “Sure, they’ll look too good to be true, but if the headline figure makes you look like a hero the first time around, why worry? You can always try to allocate inevitable extras under ‘miscellaneous expenses’ when the time comes.”
6. Don’t try to hold your provider to their original promises
Hiring a managed services provider should be like trusting the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Andy’s favourite film). Looks great from the outside, but once you’re in you can forget about sweets and nice surprises. “If you want to find yourself in a hole a few years down the line, get tied into a nice long contract and wait for all of those contractual deliverables to disappear into thin air,” advises Andy. “In due course your provider may even start surreptitiously using your internal resources to fill the gaps…”
7. Trust to luck, not 24/7 critical systems monitoring
Critical systems monitoring. What’s the worst that could happen without it? “Well, you could have a complete service outage and lose all of your data,” says Tim. But what are the odds? It isn’t like there are cyber-criminals flooding the internet, is it?
8. Don’t get hung up on BAU patching and functional support
Don’t you hate those people who always want the very latest tech? Not just Apple watches and Bluetooth nose rings, but all of that tedious business-as-usual patching and cloning that’s designed to keep your systems fully operational and secure. “For guaranteed failure, forget about all of that,” says Andy, “and just think of all the great stories a complete system meltdown will give you. I’m sure you’d be able to laugh about it one day…”
So, there you have our ‘don’ts’. Now, if you’re looking for a managed services solution but would prefer it to work for you and your organisation, it’s time to start thinking about the ‘do’s. Get in touch, and we can help you find yours.