Managed Services Providers – the 4 Prime Directives

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ducklingManaged Services providers have a complex lot in life. But done correctly, it is poetry in motion – not unlike a duck swimming across a pond. Pretty quiet and graceful above the water but underneath, those little feet are going like the blazes. The front stage for a managed services provider – the part the clients see – should be like the duck above the water, while the back stage piece is those little webbed feet, paddling like hell. So what does that have to do with the 4 Prime Directives? You mean besides giving me the opportunity to use a picture of a ridiculously cute little duckling? Actually, quite a lot.


As managed services providers, we really only need to provide four highly visible (re: front stage) “outcomes”.
1. Reduce cost,
2. Increase productivity,
3. Mitigate risk, and…
4. Make IT easy (see what I did there?)
OK totally overused, super-bad play on words. Sorry. Every single client of mine wants some combination of the 4 Prime Directives. Every single prospect I have met does too. And for the record, the fourth one is non-negotiable – also every single time. So that’s the front stage – simple, yes?

The back stage – you know, the duck feet – is crazy complex and can be a bit of a logistics nightmare as there are a ton of moving parts. But honestly, nobody but the managed services providers should give a damn about that, unless of course it isn’t working. And really, why should they (see Prime Directive #4).

Strangely though – and this is something I still try to get my head around – many prospects still want to know things like what remote monitoring tool you use or what flavour of antivirus. Are you wrong toolreally going to base a crazy important decision like who you are going to hand the virtual keys to your company to on whether you prefer Norton or McAfee? That’s a little like hiring for home renovations on whether the carpenter uses an electric saw from Makita or Black & Decker.

No doubt about it – wrong line of questioning. But I get it. The majority of our prospects don’t really know the right questions to ask so they fall back on something that they hopefully have a shred comfort with. Understandably so, since its not like you change managed services providers every month (I hope!). Reality is, most folks are like this: I don’t know what to ask so I’ll ask this. And this is not to be derisive, its just human nature.

checklistBut if you consider the 4 Prime Directives, the thing that becomes clear is that its not about the tools, its about the outcome. I don’t really care if my carpenter uses a plastic butter knife to cut wood (well, that’s a stretch but you get the point) as long as the job is done on time and on budget.
No… Instead, ask your prospective managed services provider questions based on the HOW of the 4 Prime Directives. You know, “How do you reduce my costs?” and “How do you mitigate risk?” and “How do you make my life easier?” etc. If the prospective provider starts talking tools or speeds & feeds, disqualify them immediately because they clearly do not understand better business outcomes. They may be the Yo-Yo Ma of remote monitoring but if they don’t know what that means to you (beyond simply protecting intellectual property because like, ANYONE can – or should – be able to do that, for heaven’s sake), then all they understand is better agent-based monitoring NOT better business outcomes.

Getting the right managed services provider is not that hard. It just starts with asking the right questions based on a framework that lies within the 4 Prime Directives. Questions or comments? Want to see a different take on managed services? Contact us today and we’ll show you The Syncronet Way.