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How to Select the Best Managed Services Vendor for - ZDNet

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How to Select the Best Managed Services Vendor for Telecom
Expense and Mobility Management
Make sure you’re asking the right questions to match to your needs.
Economic pressures continue to force enterprises to do more with less while wireline and wireless voice and data
consumption grows, creating a „perfect storm‟ of chaos. Compounded by pressures from the growth of consumer
devices in the workplace, most companies don‟t know what they have and are struggling to figure out where to
start. Rather than throw up their hands in despair, smart enterprises are continuing to realize that a holistic
managed approach addressing both their wireline and wireless environments makes the most sense, by
consolidating the management effort and creating one centralized view of their telecom environment.
A combined solution brings together the TEM plus WMM plus MDM worlds. However, it‟s not necessarily a
simple process to figure out the best solution for your enterprise. There are a plethora of confusing terms and
claims by vendors offering solutions that all sound alike. Analysts and past users agree that large variances in
service offerings and differing pricing models have resulted in delayed evaluation processes and overall
confusion. That‟s why it‟s so important to ask the right specific questions to make sure you understand what
you‟re getting for the money, and be able to perform a true apples-to-apples comparison when choosing among
Whitepaper Overview
This whitepaper has been written to help your Telecom Expense and Mobility Management Managed Services
evaluation process in identifying the best blend of people, process and technology to support your enterprise
needs. A key component of the whitepaper is guidance on evaluating the top 7 issues that typically have the
most discussion in ProfitLine‟s sales engagements. By making sure you evaluate these options with the right
level of detail, you can shorten a procurement cycle and potentially avoid the wrong purchase decision that could
cost you hundreds of thousands. The top 7 selection criteria include:
1. Account Support
2. Audit & Dispute Resolution
3. Help Desk / User Support
4. Pricing / ROI
5. Implementation
6. Technology & Reporting
7. Scalability & Stability
Account Support
Account support is consistently cited as a top 1-2 factor of a managed services relationship in any industry.
After all, you‟re paying for resources to augment your existing staff and partner with you to handle many crucial
operational activities. Therefore you want to make sure you have more than enough skilled, expert, responsive
resources supporting your account to get the job done. You‟ll also want to make sure there is a formalized review
process that serves as a forum for your vendor to update you on savings and operational metrics, trends within
your environment and overall status. Lastly with all of the changes and M&A activity in the TEM industry, it‟s
important to understand the delivery chain ownership model. Find out how much control the vendor has over
operations and if any components (especially client facing) are outsourced to partners. Here are some key
questions to ask:
Describe your account management program in detail. What type of team members will be assigned to
our account?
Will you have a single point of contact across the entire account (wireline and wireless)?
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What is the escalation process?
Do you provide regular review meetings to discuss performance and service metrics? How often are
these reviews performed? (i.e. quarterly)
Is the review sent via the interface, conducted over the phone, or with a live meeting on-site?
Audit & Dispute Resolution
Savings through audit and optimizations are typically the next biggest driver of a TEM initiative. Unfortunately this
discussion often leads to differing opinions on average savings for audit and optimization, rather than focusing on
demonstrated past experience and how the vendor secures and delivers savings back to the client. We urge
clients to try and get to that next level of detail and understand the rigor behind the processes. Ask about how
detailed audits are, how they ensure the potential savings are obtained and delivered in a timely manner to the
client, and what SLA‟s are in place to guarantee savings. Here are some questions to help establish a vendor‟s
ability to deliver savings:
Describe your audit methodology. How frequently are invoices audited? Is there a human audit beyond
the automated validation steps? Will you be able to meet with your auditor directly?
Describe your invoice dispute resolution process.
Does your company handle the entire claims recovery process including the filing of claims with carriers
and confirmation of credits?
How is claim status resolution communicated to the client?
Are you vendor neutral? Please discuss how you maximize savings while avoiding conflict.
Are there any additional fees associated with audit/recovery activities? Please detail.
Help Desk / User Support
Your employees are highly paid personnel that need to be productive and happy, not spending hours on the
phone trying to troubleshoot their orders or smart devices. To ensure you get high touch support and fast
resolution cycles you must ensure your partner has the resources and scalability to handle your base of users. If
you have a high volume user base with complex support demands, you can‟t afford to work with someone that is
just getting into the mobile support business or learning on the fly. It‟s important to make sure the vendor has
demonstrated expertise and training in the latest devices and platforms.
To illustrate the volume of help desk issues a managed services vendor may be required to handle, we‟ve run a
scenario based on a recent AOTMP Benchmark Calculator. According to AOTMP, a client in the Legal industry
with 2,500 users could expect an average of 606 help desk tickets per month1. Based on these types of
demanding volumes, your provider will need to have a substantial support structure and 24/7 availability in order
to satisfy end-users. Here are some key questions to ask:
Does your company provide 24/7/365 help desk/contact center services? Please detail coverage times
and costs associated.
How many help desk representatives do you employ?
Please describe the issues that your help desk will handle.
Is your help desk owned by your company or delivered through a partner?
How do you measure user satisfaction? Are surveys administered after each individual call?
Describe recent help desk metrics. What are recent metrics for average hold time (AHT) and client
AOTMP. Calculator: WMM Help Desk Ticket to Device Ratio by Industry v20090607.1.
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Pricing / ROI
The challenge in evaluating Telecom Expense and Mobility Management Services pricing is making sure you‟re
performing an apples-to-apples comparison. This can be a difficult task since many providers started out as
software providers (typically a monthly access charge), and now offer optional add-ons for essential managed
services options. Make sure providers are clearly outlining what is included in their price and what is an additional
charge. Also, be cognizant of add-on or hidden fees for the managed services aspects such as invoice loading,
invoice audit, dispute resolution, rate optimization and so-on. This is where the “cheapest” price on the surface
might not turn out to be so in the long run if you didn‟t end up with a complete solution that addresses your
enterprises‟ needs. Be sure to run the analysis of price to return (see section on overall savings).
Clearly outline the monthly fee and list the components that are included.
What SLAs are provided to guarantee savings?
Do you provide sourcing/contract negotiation services? If so, what are your average savings across
recent engagements?
What are average rate plan optimization and audit savings?
In order to attain cost savings it‟s important to get your program implemented in a timely manner so your service
provider can start performing the value added functions that deliver savings. Unfortunately, many clients have
experienced longer implementations than what they had expected, which delays getting to savings while they
continue to be overwhelmed internally. For example, according to a recent AOTMP report, the average large
enterprise received an actual TEM implementation of 10.5 months, while they had expected 5.6 months .
To help avoid these types of challenges, try to learn as much as possible about your vendor‟s implementation
program during the sales process and ask for references. Here are some suggested questions to help
understand the process:
Describe your implementation approach & process.
What will the implementation timeline be for the requested solution? Please describe recent examples of
similar implementations.
Is there a structured handoff between sales and implementation?
Describe what resources you provide during the implementation process? Are these resources delivered
through your company or a partner?
Describe your change management/implementation experience related to mobility projects.
How do you handle high volume deployments?
Technology & Reporting
A strong technology foundation is an essential foundation of a managed services solution but shouldn‟t be the
sole focus. Even though a polished interface is important, especially for end-user mobility ordering, don‟t forget to
ask some key questions about backend integration. When using a single vendor for a combined solution, it‟s
essential to understand if they have a single portal that delivers a centralized integrated inventory and has an
optimal data flow between ordering, inventory and reporting. Sample questions:
Describe your company‟s telecom expense management system architecture.
Do you offer a single integrated platform across wireline and wireless?
AOTMP. Deployment to Steady State Implementation Time for TEM / WMM Scope. 2009.
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Do you have call detail reporting? Describe the different views (i.e. manager, employee).
Describe any Business Intelligence or data warehouse tools available for building ad-hoc/custom reports.
Describe any online reporting query/search tools available.
Scalability & Stability
Features and functionality aside, stability and experience working with enterprises like yours are paramount
evaluation criteria. Today it seems like every vendor offers “managed services”. But it‟s important to really
understand their roots and the makeup of their service portfolio. Vendors should have a mature managed
services solution suite, deep telecom domain expertise, and successful past performance with companies similar
to yours. You also want to get an idea of the size and scalability of the company – from the people, process and
technology perspectives. With mobility solutions in particular, it‟s important to make sure the vendor can securely
scale to tens of thousands of mobile devices without impact to user satisfaction.
What year was your company founded? How many years have you provided managed services?
How many customers does your company currently provide managed services to?
How many wireless devices are currently managed by your company on a “full outsourced” basis?
Don‟t select a managed services provider that doesn‟t meet your needs. Evaluate the options outlined in this
whitepaper with the right level of detail, and select a provider that will reap benefits for years to come. Also
remember that a collaborative evaluation process will yield the best results. All too often we see clients rush to
the RFP stage, only to end up having a suspended project due to a high volume of confusing responses that
missed the mark of what they were looking for. We recommend involving a capable, experienced solution
provider(s) early in the process and get help and advice from their experience to put together the overall solution
design. Hopefully this open collaboration in combination with the guidance in this whitepaper helps you find a
solution that is best for you.
Need an RFP Template?
Call ProfitLine today at +1 800.200.7763 or to
receive our full TEM RFP template free of charge.
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