You rely on your network as the backbone of your business. From communications to apps and the ability to manage your staff, you need a high-performance network that drives business innovation. Choosing to outsource network operations to a managed network service provider can help take the pressure off your internal IT team and ensure your network is not affected by downtime or performance issues.
How do you go about identifying the right managed network service provider? These five key considerations can help you narrow your list and find your ideal technology partner:
Long-term fit: You aren’t looking for a short-term solution; you want a long-term relationship with a provider that fully understands your business models and can support your network functions to drive growth. Make sure they have a company culture that aligns well with yours and a mutual desire for a long-term business relationship. You’ll also want to find out their team structure. Will engineers be assigned to your account on an ongoing basis, or do they rotate from week to week? If you’re outsourcing and using a “follow the sun” model, passing your service from one global office to the next, how will they guarantee uninterrupted service?
Technology and training: The skill level of the engineers at your managed network service provider will have a direct impact on your network’s performance. Find out how many first, second, and third line engineers are available to assist you, as well as the certifications the service provider has for the solutions you use. It’s also important to be confident of the diagnostic tools available because the service provider needs to be able to see issues from the end user’s perspective in order to troubleshoot the problem.
Get a feel for the kind of customer service you’ll receive. Will the agents try to build a relationship with your staff? A good service provider is about more than just uptime and other metrics; it’s about the soft skills that come with network management, like keeping an end user calm when there’s a problem.
KPIs: Make sure the service providers you’re considering have the numbers to back up their sales pitch. There should be a fully transparent system in place where they can easily demonstrate their performance, as well as how that performance stacks up against the metrics you’ve agreed to use as a benchmark.
There are two critical metrics that any network management team will use to determine performance:
- Incident response: Guaranteeing response within a given time for a certain level of incidents, such as a 15-minute response with a 90-minute resolution for a level 1 priority incident.
- Change activity: The provider should have clear expectations for how long it will take them to set up a new user or a similar activity.
Change management: This is the consideration that often narrows the service providers you’ll consider. The ability to not only implement new applications with agility but also model those changes before they happen is a critical function of your managed network service provider. Find out what kind of framework your potential provider uses to determine if it’s going to work seamlessly with your strategy.
Proactive management: Don’t settle for a company that has its engineers simply waiting for your calls to come in. Identify the service providers that have technology designed to detect infrastructure issues or capacity constraints. They should also provide reporting across the entire network infrastructure of your enterprise so that you can make changes to the network and enhance performance.
At TailWind, our approach is to adapt to our customers’ needs, not force them into our process. Through certified onsite technician support, expert knowledge and asset management, and high-speed broadband connectivity, we tailor solutions to meet the multi-location challenge. Contact us to learn more about how our unmatched level of accountability and responsiveness supports your multi-branch enterprise.