The best IT service providers don’t just keep the lights on and put out fires. They take measurable and proactive steps to improve your business.
There are many reasons to select an outsourcing partner for IT services. They can help you reduce costs, augment the expertise and reach of your existing team, and improve customer experiences by accelerating response and resolution times.
The question is: how do you know if you’re getting the most for your money?
Merely meeting the basic requirements of a service-level agreement (SLA), the contractual specifications for quality, availability, and responsiveness, doesn’t always show the whole picture. It also doesn’t provide insight into whether another outsourcing partner could deliver similar or better results with fewer disruptions to your operations, more open and transparent communication, and a closer fit of the provider’s capabilities with your needs.
What Should You Be Tracking?
There are two main vantage points from which to judge the quality of your IT outsourcing: external and internal.
The former refers to how satisfied the end users — individuals actually benefiting from the service — are with what they are receiving. The latter looks at higher level benchmarks, like more efficient and effective business operations, cost savings, and the strategic alignment of goals up and down a corporate hierarchy.
- Abandonment Rate: Percentage of communication attempts that are canceled before receiving a response
- Average Speed to Answer (ASA): Average time before a user reaches an agent (e.g. 80% of calls are answered within 60 seconds)
- First Call Resolution (FCR): Percentage of user issues that are solved immediately, without requiring a followup or elevation to another technician (generated from call monitoring)
- Time Service Factor (TSF) Percentage of service requests resolved within a given timeframe (e.g. 25% of requests are resolved within 90 seconds)
- Total Resolution Time (TRT): Total time taken to completely resolve an issue, from initial contact until the user confirms the issue has been adequately concluded
- Turn-Around Time (TAT): Time taken to complete a discrete task
- Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR): Time taken to recover from a service outage
- Uptime: Time between outages (scheduled or unscheduled)
- Agent Quality Score: A qualitative measure garnered from user surveys of agents’ communication skills, knowledgeability, and helpfulness
- User Satisfaction: Overall user feelings about service encounters and the adequacy of help provided (generated from post-communication surveys like follow-up emails)
- Service Level Agreement: Are the contracted-for services actually being provided?
- Hours per week where the response team is on call
- Total number of communications handled
- Cost per communication
- Cost Reduction: A comparison of total IT expenditures before and after assuming the SLA
- Productivity: Increased workforce activity and output
- Skill and Technology Acquisition: Enhanced access to technical guidance, advanced hardware and software, online platforms, and markets
- Risk Management and Security: Reduction in threat vectors (percentage of breach attempts prevented and number of threats mitigated), improved security best practices, and continuing guidance on avoidance of business disruptions
- Customer Relations: Growth in brand affinity and customer loyalty connected to improved user experiences with deployed technologies
- Vendor Responsiveness: Is the outsourcing provider properly managing vendor relationships to ensure competitive pricing, speedy delivery, and open communication?
- Scalability and Adaptability: The capacity to quickly increase or decrease services, or support new products and services, with minimal inconvenience and unexpected costs
- Alignment of IT Services with Business Needs: Reduced wastage of company resources from vendor lock-in, entrenched groupthink, or lack of strategic adjustment to changing circumstances
- Transparency and Accountability: Sensitive data (e.g. passwords, documentation, licensing information) is only accessible by the company or its service provider, and it can be tracked with a clear chain of custody
- Organizational Structure: Are there easily accessible guidelines in place? Does everyone know their role, and are responsibilities clearly defined?
- Talent Retention: Improved employee morale and reduced turnover, owing to more efficient operations, reduced technical issues, and better access to support systems
Taken together, these benchmarks help companies develop a better understanding of how their decision to outsource IT is adding value, both measurable and intangible, to their operations and burnishing their reputation and prospects.
Big Picture IT
Any service provider can sell an agreement. But how many not only meet your basic expectations, but exceed them? Until you make time to examine the data, you’ll never truly know. Too often, simple inertia prevents organizations from taking a hard look at their well-established practices and relationships to see whether they are achieving an optimal result.
It’s well established that outsourcing IT services can untap significant savings on overall operating expenses. For most companies, that is justification enough to make that move. Yet, doing the hard work of looking further, at the granular external and internal metrics — and choosing which ones are Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for your particular business and industry — separates companies that settle for a basic improvement from those that actively position themselves to outcompete their rivals.
As Dr. Paul Roehrig, formerly of Forrester Research, explains: “You need to assess the deal systematically beyond ‘price per widget’ or whether the service provider met the SLAs.”
While at Forrester, Roehrig helped companies analyze common pain points in outsourcing. The top reported concern was the innovation of their partner, with 42% of businesses saying they were dissatisfied with the technologies and practices employed. The second most common complaint was lack of ability to manage change. Considerations related to performance of the SLA was the least most commonly cited problem, at 15%.
The takeaway is clear, meeting the requirements of an outsourcing agreement is just a baseline. The best outsourcing partners provide holistic support that helps companies scale, adapt, and thrive.
D2 Integrated Solutions takes a collaborative approach to IT. We are client-focused at our core, built to grow with you, and provide practical technology strategies that realize the efficiency, security, and productivity goals of your business. Connect with us today.