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“as a Service”: Choosing a service provider

28 Nov 2017

Drawing of a laptop with addition options availableIn the first article of this series, Darren explored what “as a service” means and how it can benefit businesses. If you haven't read that article, best to do so before reading any further; it will make more sense that way!

In this second part, we look at how to choose a service and some of the changes that your organisation will need to make to ensure the success of the service.

Criteria for choosing a Service provider

Choosing an “as a service” service provider is much the same as any other vendor selection process, but there are some additional criteria that you should include in your selection process:

Match your flexibility

Understand what level of flexibility you need and ensure that it forms part of your selection process. Some services will provide flexibility in different ways (cost, time, users, etc.) so make sure you select a vendor that offers the right kind of flexibility.

Experience

Ensure that the provider you choose has experience of providing their offering as a service. You’re unlikely to have the time for your service provider to be learning the ropes on your time.

Availability

Ensure that the service has the availability that you require. If you need 24/7/365 service, make sure that the vendors you are considering can provide it and that they are including it in their pricing.

Reporting

Reporting of performance and ‘services provided’ is always important, but doubly so with “as a Service”.  Here you need to make sure the service continues to deliver the expected and desired benefits. Make sure that your service provider submits details of the services provided and their usage levels.

Changes you need to make

Having chosen an “as a service” service provider it can be tempting to just let it run so long as the service is doing what it said. Be cautious in this approach - ensure that the service continues to provide the expected benefits, that you are taking advantage of the flexibility as needed, and switch off the parts of the service that you no longer need.

Whilst this shouldn’t take up too much time, make sure you take a vendor management approach, and monitor the services provided, flexing them up and down, and making other changes where appropriate. There may even come a time when you need to consider bringing the function in-house, and you shouldn’t be shy about recognising this time. After all, it’s one of the benefits of using a service.

When not to use “as a service”

So far I have explained all the upsides, but there are times when “as a service” is not suitable or appropriate. The primary one for me is when a function is core to the organisation’s function or purpose.

There may be exceptions to this rule for your organisation, but always be careful when considering using a service to "outsource" your organisation's core service. I tend to think of services as something that magnifies your resources, allowing them to spend more time providing and enhancing your own core services.


Darren Wray is the CEO of Fifth Step, an organisation that has provided services for IT Leadership, Change Management, Resiliency and Data Protection since 2011. He is also a proud member of IoD Advance - you can connect with him through the Advance App or find him on LinkedIn

Learn more about how an IoD Advance can help you Connect, Share, and Learn with the business leaders that can make a difference to your aspirations.

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