Demand Grows for ‘Partner’ MSPs, White Paper Says
The increasingly complex needs of IT organizations are causing a bifurcation among managed services providers (MSPs), with some firms more adept at addressing clients’ specific tactical problems, while others have the resources, expertise and flexibility to provide comprehensive, customized solutions.
That’s the thrust of “What a Best-of-Breed Managed Services Partner Looks Like,” a TechTarget white paper commissioned by Carousel Industries, a provider of technology solutions and managed services, whose customers include dozens of Fortune 100 companies.
Written to influence IT decision-makers, the paper offers four “paths to the right IT service partner for your business,” and divides MSPs into two groups: “Suppliers,” largely focused on single-point solutions; and the more consultative “partners,” who become an extension of the client organization and help to more broadly optimize IT operations.
“The benefits of a true ‘partner’ have become far more important in the last few years, as internal IT departments have less bandwidth to stay on top of the many new and emerging technologies that may have possible benefit to the organization, or create new systems that support emerging business processes,” the paper states.
Growing demand for higher-value relationships between customers and service providers has become undeniable.
“This has led to many suppliers trying tod recast themselves as partners when they may not actually have the internal resources to deliver on that promise,” the paper argues. “This can lead to disappointment and projects that are not successful.”
For this reason, the authors suggest, it’s imperative that IT decision-makers know what to look for in service providers, to discern between potentially transformative partners and narrowly focused suppliers:
1. Assess the relationship: Partners will invest time and resources to
evaluate the unique needs of each customer, and determine what systems are needed to resolve those specific issues. This activity typically occurs before any solutions are discussed or selling begins.
Often, the sales team is accompanied by the MSP’s technical staff and management.
“There are two key traits that define a partner: The contract or services are frequently tuned, and there is flexibility in how services are delivered to ensure they meet unique and specific customer needs,” the paper asserts.
2. Beware of standard solutions: Partner firms are willing to modify solutions, service offerings, contracts and service agreements to ensure a complete, customized solution.
Customers are not encouraged to adopt less-suitable options that may be more cost-effective for the provider.
This approach maximizes the value of a single MSP and minimizes the number of firms that must be engaged by the IT organization.
“In addition, the more complete offering will already include the necessary future functionality that the customer may desire in future deployments, and results in far faster time to value for that next-generation deployment,” the authors wrote.
3. Leveraging of expertise: The experience and expertise of partners about the solution being provided is deep and comprehensive.
This expertise is shared with in-house IT staffs, fostering a “knowledge transfer” that improves the customer organizations’ internal skills and effects a broader understanding of client issues and solutions.
“Partners will make the time and technical resources available to ensure that this cross-pollination occurs,” the paper states.
4. Enhanced innovation: Partner-oriented service providers offer and support new business processes and capabilities that are novel and emerging in a given solution area.
They also have the expertise to efficiently deploy, integrate and test new technologies that add functionality to the broader solution.
“With so many new technology options coming to market, being able to leverage your partner’s evaluation and implementation skills to identify new capabilities is a huge advantage,” according to the white paper.
Increasingly, successful MSPs will consider and adopt such ‘partner’ philosophies, to make themselves more attractive in the rapidly changing IT landscape.
“The most important issue for IT organizations,” the authors wrote, “is to consider the use of service providers from both a strategic and tactical perspective, and make decisions that fit the long term.”
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