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What to Consider When Switching Service Providers: An MSP Tells All

March 23, 2017 No Comments

Featured article by Gina Murphy, COO, TriCore Solutions

Lessons from the field show potential pitfalls to avoid for a seamless transition

There are ample reasons why a company may be looking for a new service provider: customer satisfaction issues with the current provider, a move to a new ERP application or migrating to a cloud solution, to name a few. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand the pitfalls that can happen when making the switch.

Today’s vendor/customer relationship landscape is a ripe opportunity for service providers to build trust through transparency and demonstrate their service excellence by being flexible with customer demands. Whether it is staying accountable to strict SLAs or being creative with contract details to help scale the environment up and down to meet a customer’s financial need, managed service providers need to continually evolve. The best MSPs realize that to stay ahead of market changes and prevailing per-use cloud business models, they need to be flexible – and their contracts must be, too.

To transition from your current service provider to another, the devil is in the details. Here’s what you should know to leave your current provider and begin a new vendor relationship on the right foot, while avoiding messy breaches of contract should you need to re-assess outsourcing needs in the future:

1)     Get access to your business-critical data. Whether it is HR data, finance data, custom application information, or any other piece of data passing through your ERP or hosted systems, a service provider holds the keys. Too often, a provider will refuse to release data upon request, fearing that you might be leaving them – resulting in revenue loss. Taking legal action can be time consuming, resource intensive and quite costly. For your mission-critical applications, make sure that you own your data and have the ability to swiftly and safely change hands despite any unresolved contractual agreements. Being aware of this reality is important when building language into a contract. Setting parameters around data ownership, from creating a process to get copies of your data regularly to wrapping an SLA with fines or legal action for breach of contract, is essential.

2)     Engage your new service provider to help facilitate the transition. Oftentimes, transitioning your environment is an easier process with the new provider’s help. A good managed service provider should be able to set up connectivity into your current environment, and begin making sure that access to the data is intact to start the transition project. When you are negotiating the new provider’s contract, consider putting in a detailed transition plan with ownership of tasks into the contract. Understanding any additional costs and timeframes for missed tasks or data issues should be considered, as well.

3)     Set concrete contractual language when hosting with a service provider. It’s important to build in data ownership into any hosting contract. Start first by listing a concrete penalty if data isn’t shared – in full – upon request. Providers shouldn’t hesitate when a customer asks to access its data, and even though contract negotiations are a standard part of every vendor/client relationship, look for warnings that the service provider isn’t willing to meet you halfway on these important contingency plans. This is a telltale sign of a vulnerable partnership from the start: MSPs you can trust are transparent with their expectations and reasonable in negotiations.

Knowing that customers need to be agile as their environments change, the best providers will be open to flexible agreements. After all, their goal is to show you exactly how valuable they’ve become to your strategic endeavors and day-to-day operations.

 

DATA and ANALYTICS , SOCIAL BUSINESS

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