Choosing an Application Managed Services Provider

Jeff Graffeo

As a representative of your business or technology department your role in choosing an application managed services provider is to find a true partner to your business who can contribute to your bottom-line via cost savings and revenue growth. The right application managed services provider will empower your business and your people, augment your capabilities, and drive value outside the walls of the IT function. When you’re choosing an AMS provider, there are many decision criteria that should be considered table stakes. Any competent AMS provider should meet standards such as:

Application and Technical Expertise –Your AMS provider should be able to demonstrate a standard of excellence in the applications, functions, and systems applicable to your business.

24/7/365 Availability – Globalism and the nature of business today require that your AMS provider be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year – your business operability can depend on it.

Disaster Recovery Planning – In the event that a disruptive incident impacts your business’ enterprise applications, your application managed services provider should have clearly defined risk mitigation strategies, protocols, and procedures to ensure minimal impact.

Privacy and Security – In today’s age, the privacy and security of your business’ technology and data is critical and should be a key focus of your AMS provider.

application managed services provider

Enterprise technology for any company is the engine by which the business runs so choosing an AMS provider can have substantial impacts to the organization’s goals, innovation, and efficiency. With the AMS market continuing to grow and new providers entering the space in a continuous stream, selecting the right AMS partner for your business is becoming more challenging.

Looking past the above, here four other criteria to consider in the selection phase that will have significant impacts to the success of the relationship with your AMS provider.

Criteria #1 for Choosing an Application Managed Services Provider References and Past Clients

While your AMS provider will give you every assurance of their capabilities and track record, case studies, client testimonials, and references from previous clients will give you a better perspective on their ability to partner and drive value. If possible, request that your potential AMS provider put you in contact with an existing or previous client. The relationship with an AMS provider should be a true partnership and a client reference will help you understand how the provider has executed on that previously.

Beyond direct contact with a client, review your application managed services provider’s roster of clients and ensure alignment to your business and services you are looking to supplement. Ideally, many of the clients will be from your industry and share commonalities in the way enterprise technology is built, managed, and optimized. But, even if the clients fall out of your industry, identify and compare the areas of shared needs to determine if the AMS provider will be able to adequately meet your business’ objectives.

Criteria #2 for Choosing an AMS Provider Clearly Defined Contract Language

The contract between your business and your AMS provider must be thorough and unambiguous to enable mutual understanding and collaboration between your business and provider. Pricing should be clearly defined and include any initial or recurring costs and address any premiums the business might incur as a result of out-of-scope events or circumstances. If an out-of-scope event must be approved, the contract should identify a point of contact and timeframe for securing approval.

Defining in-scope and out-of-scope events should make up the lion’s share of your contract. Scope should be addressed from several perspectives including, but not limited to:

  • Functional
  • Technical
  • Infrastructure
  • Software
  • Business
  • Geography
  • Time
  • Organizational

Just as important, the contract should also clearly lay out what is out-of-scope. Each partner should have a clear understanding of the areas of the business the AMS provider is able to support and those that would require an additional fee or contract update. An unmistakably clear contract serves as the foundation for mutual understanding and true partnership with your AMS provider.

Criteria #3 for Choosing an AMS Provider Culture

While the nature of the relationship with your AMS provider is primarily focused on the technical side of business, you’d be remiss to discount the role that your AMS provider’s culture can play in this relationship. Your AMS provider will work closely with your own employees and should become ingrained in your business so the alignment of the values and culture of your two businesses is key. Ensuring this alignment will serve as a bedrock of trust on which to build a lasting relationship.

Just as your business would assess any potential candidate for hire against your core values, do the same for your AMS provider. Consider how their own core values align to yours, if there are substantial gaps between the two, it may foretell misalignment on expectations, deliverables, or more in the future.

Criteria #4 for Choosing an Application Managed Services Provider Communication

Communication is integral to a beneficial and value-driven relationship with your AMS provider. Your own employees will need a dialogue and rapport with your AMS support team in order to troubleshoot issues, communicate needs, and collaborate. In selecting an AMS provider, make sure that their communication styles are in line with your own employees and your business.

As with culture, your AMS provider should feel like part of your team and communicate in a way that reflects that. Be sure to discuss with your AMS provider how communications should be handled whether over the phone, email, or instant messenger. Beyond the method of communication, ensure that the application managed services provider knows their audience and doesn’t use tech speak or jargon with which your employees may not be familiar or comfortable using.

Criteria #5 for Choosing an AMS Provider Escalation

Knowing who to escalate to, accessibility to your provider’s executive management, and the mutual understanding that this is important from your AMS provider is key. It’s easy to perform when things are on autopilot, but when your business faces challenges, you want to ensure that your AMS provider understands the importance of your business and is working to ensure there is limited disruption to your systems that could impact critical business operations. When there are issues, you should know who to be able to call so that the importance of those challenges is understood at all times, and your provider can be clear as to remediation of those challenges in real-time.

Choosing an AMS Provider that Suits Your Business, Your Needs, and Your People

Choosing an application managed services provider has serious impacts to your business’ operability and scalability. With the right partner, your team can focus on bringing value outside of the day to day maintenance and technical work that may distract them from larger departmental and organizational goals. Ensure your partner’s capabilities and competencies outside simple technical expertise to enable a relationship of value, success, and growth.

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