I got a question today morning asking me on how to measure success in IT managed services. Well I never thought of myself such a measurement. Perhaps the measurement would be keeping service level availability and agreement as good as possible. It also could be making your customer be happy. That sounds the ultimate objective of every business we do doesn’t that? I then sat down alone, grabbing a coffee and started musing around the measurement. I started working with IT managed services 6 years ago for a private cloud service provider. It’s been 6 years since then, and now I’m still participated in doing IT managed services. Although the scope is not full life-cycle of IT system, there are only three letters I can think of followed my past experience, working with USA customers and Government agencies.
This article is just my own opinion based on my experience not only working for a private company but also my own start-up companies during for the past 6 years. These things can be my personal principles on top of my priority at work I would like to share down here.
S – Stability
The first letter is “S“, which stands for Stability. Of course, when you say you are helping customers to manage their IT systems, so they can focus on business, you need to make sure the system is stable as possible. If the system gets down somehow, it will make an impact on customer’s operation or business.
There would be a question on how to make a system stable? Let’s say if I’m a SharePoint administrator, how do I make my SharePoint farm stable? And how do I know if my SharePoint farm is not stable? Alright this is not that hard to answer. You should be able to define stability metric of your SharePoint farm. The metric can be based on what you are monitoring in a daily work. For example, if you see a few yellow triangles in Event Viewer, it is not going to be stable. It can be the issue rate every month you receive from the customer. Set it baseline for example if the SharePoint farm has just 4-5 issues per month the stability is acceptable. Unless there should be a preventive action.
Back to “S”, in our life we have seen it. When you look for a job, you often consider if this job is stable so you can survive. If it is not stable you are going to be afraid. Be a customer side to think about this, your customer empowers you to help them manage the system, then you have to be aware of stability for the system first.
Note that you do not have to be reliable initially. Focus stability first then you will gain reliability.
T – Transparency
Being someone managing and keep things stable is very challenging. You can’t avoid to be blamed one day because those things are not stable. When something badly happens, people often conceal perhaps their mistake. They are not transparent to the problem. For example, when troubleshooting you make some changes which break your system down. One of the common behaviors is to pretend not to know which change when your customer ask you to report. Whatever you report look trustworthy. Of course because your customer give you full control on their system so they trust you to the bottom.
Well, that’s not my recommendation. I realized that if I was transparent on my mistake to the customer, they always respected me and together with me figured out and gave me more time to sort things out. The transparency can reduce troubleshooting time as well, which is very true in a large environment where many vendors are engaged.
Honesty is when you reveal the truth you feel needs to be known. Transparency is when others can see for themselves the truths they feel they need to know. (Source)
N – Nice
It’s just a little chance to manage entirely customer’s IT systems. It means there are many different vendors to be engaged, including internal IT department. There have to be some political stuffs if your company is a competitor of a vendor. I used to work in a private cloud for government agencies where several vendors were engaged. There was a one responsible for virtual machine provisioning. There was another to configure Active Directory. These vendors were competitor with each other in a specific business line. I ran into communication issues a few times until I realized I would have to be nice with them to make my work done.
If you are not nice with a vendor, you will soon run into a trouble in which you stay alone when troubleshooting. Nobody supports you. Even if someone in a vendor supports you, he will not be willing to help.
For 6 years involved in IT managed service, with an hour of thinking, I’ve concluded to only three letters to be successful: S – Stability, T – Transparency, N – Nice.
In a nutshell, the ultimate objective of managed service is to keep things you manage as stable as possible so your customers can only focus on their business. When something badly happens, you should be transparent first, in order to figure out root causes. Don’t conceal anything even your fault & mistake if any. Lastly, you need to be nice to work with different vendors because you don’t manage entirely customer’s IT system.