I have had many conversations with MSPs who are keen to work with a partner for NOC and Service Desk delivery and who genuinely appreciate the benefits that this can bring. Having reached the logical conclusion that this is the right way forward however, some then get cold feet and we end up stuck in the contractual process. A number of common concerns and perceived risks are expressed by MSPs at this point – many of which have also been voiced by their own prospective customers. The ‘Top Inhibitors of Managed Services Adoption’ chart published in the 2015 CompTIA 4th Annual Managed Services Trends Study lists these. They are ranked in no particular order.
I will be addressing these concerns in an upcoming series of blogs to explain why they needn’t be issues that prevent you from moving forward.
As a precursor though, I offer this advice: if you’re keen to partner for NOC and Service Desk – you don’t have to make an all or nothing commitment at the outset. Dipping a toe in the water is an acceptable way to start your partnership journey – provided that you are in discussions with the right partner.
Here are five questions to put to them to make sure you are:
1) Do you offer a flexible contract with no long-term tie-in?
Being locked into a lengthy contract with financial penalties if you break it is not conducive to a ‘toe in the water’ approach. Your own end-users are probably pushing for shorter contract lengths for NOC and Service Desk themselves, influenced by no-commitment cloud services and cancellation with zero notice or penalty. Indeed, many end-user companies are starting to question and even decline contracts of more than one year.
Your prospective partner should acknowledge this reality and not tie you in to a long term contract. At Inbay, for example, we offer a three month rolling contract; and you only pay for what you need and use.
2) Can I trial your services?
This is particularly important if you have never used a partner for NOC services before as it will give you the opportunity to ‘try out’ the experience. And even if you have partnered for NOC services previously, a trial will give the opportunity to carry out a more substantive assessment. Any company confident in the quality and value of the NOC services they provide will offer potential customers a free trial. It gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in a real-life scenario – and to prove there is substance behind the marketing claims.
3) Can I start with out-of-hours support only?
You may want your own teams to continue to handle NOC and Service Desk during normal business hours, but use a partner to undertake out-of-hours maintenance, extend your service to 24/7 or cover different time zones. This is a good first step to take as you retain what you have in place but gain the opportunity to extend the services you offer clients.
This is often the way our own relationships with MSPs begin. We are also happy to work as your overflow, carry out project work, and act as a Level 1 barrier or as an escalation point for specialist tasks.
4) Do all of my clients have to be covered even if not all of them pay for or need a 24/7 service?
A ‘toe in the water’ approach may mean you want to partner for NOC and Service Desk for certain clients only; and these may be the ones who need out-of-hours or 24/7 support. In this case, you don’t want to be paying a blanket fee; you want to be able to pick and choose the clients to be covered and add new 24/7 NOC or Service Desk clients at any time, paying only for the cover you use, with no long term commitment or upfront outlay.
5) Can I use your specialist teams initially as a ‘backup’ or overflow resource?
You may have a huge amount of in-house expertise; considerable knowledge about the systems you are supporting and the monitoring and automation tools you are using. You will still undoubtedly need extra specialist help at times: to cover holidays, sickness, for special projects or if your highly trained resources decide to leave unexpectedly. Your first ‘toe in the water’ with your partner may be to cover the scenarios mentioned above – or to provide additional capacity for out-of-hours and project support.
If you can embark on your partnership for NOC and Service Desk delivery in incremental steps, there should be much less reason to worry about adjustments to your business that may need to be made. Any impact will be phased.
Your prospective partner should welcome this approach too. They should recognise that many managed services engagements start small but can lead to very strong business relationships indeed.
Great oaks from little acorns!