There is no doubt that shifting to a managed program model of information technology brings enormous advantages to small and medium-sized businesses. To get the most out of such an arrangement, however, there are some important issues for management to consider.
The Need for Questions
Best practices for working with a managed service providers include building up trust between the enterprise and the managed program provider. This can be done by making sure that both parties to the agreement have a clear understanding of what the managed program provider can bring to the business. Establishing such an understanding means asking questions, particularly in the early stages of the relationship.
Asking the right questions is an acquired skill for managers whose own area of expertise does not include much IT experience. It is more important to find out how the IT services to be provided will interact with your own company processes than to understand the nuts-and-bolts of how those services will be constructed and delivered.
Even SMBs that have been working with a managed program provider for years can attest to the need for an open line of communications. Some industry experts recommend that the best way to keep in touch is to treat a managed program provider much as you would an internal department at your enterprise.
This means keeping a managed program provider apprised of any changes in company goals or procedures that could have an impact on IT services. Regular reviews of services are also important, with quarterly or monthly reviews frequent enough for many enterprises.