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Managed IT Services Buyer's Guide - part 3

Here are the final three questions from our ten-point Q&A that's designed to help guide your procurement process. Part 1 included the first three managed and hosting service buyer's guide questions and Part 2 had the next four questions.

8. What are the type and scope of management capabilities that you routinely offer?
  • Request a list of capabilities and associated benefits, relative to your needs.
  • Historical reporting is essential, forward-looking insight is valuable.
Examples of typical basic management tools include a service desk and management of various activities including assets, configuration, fault, change, release/update, performance, capacity reporting and planning, and trend reporting with recommendations.

9. If required, how will you support existing or acquired IT/networking infrastructure?
  • Service providers may have policies that limit the device types they support.
  • In addition, some providers only support devices they install and configure.
If you are like many managed service users, then you have an environment where a combination of self-managed and out-tasked infrastructure will need to coexist -- at some point in time. Service providers should be able to delineate how their role and responsibilities start and end in a multifaceted scenario. Likewise, they should explain their role in the event that they are asked to operate in a multi-vendor or multi-service provider environment.

10. How do you price and deliver professional services, beyond the scope of the managed service?
  • Examples of advice, support, and guidance should be included as standard.
  • Ask for non-standard consultation examples, and associated fee structure.
There will likely come a time when you will ask your service provider to perform an activity that is beyond the scope of your managed service agreement. You should anticipate this event by asking the service provider what constitutes routine (non-billed) information and guidance, and in contrast what is the fee structure for time and materials work -- or other billable activity.

In Summary
Managed services have a long and successful history of helping businesses like yours to reap the full benefits of IT and networking technology capabilities -- without the drudgery and distraction of the ongoing equipment operation, management, maintenance, and perpetual updates or enhancements.

You can download the complete checklist "How to Select a Best-Fit Managed Service Provider" as a .pdf document.

Also, the "Managed versus In-House Service Comparison Calculator" may help you build an internal business case. This build vs. buy expense comparison tool should only be used for basic estimates. We recommend that you consult a managed service provider to obtain an accurate comparison, based upon your actual requirements.