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Lenny Liebmann
Lenny Liebmann
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6 Tips Toward Painless Service Provider Relationships

Thinking of outsourcing your WAN? These tips will help you build and maintain a successful long-term partnership with the right network service provider.
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Businesses of all kinds are outsourcing their WANs to managed network service providers. Several factors are driving growth in this area, including: 

  • The expectation that a service provider's economies of scale will reduce operational costs
  • The expectation that a service provider will be able to more adaptively make changes to the WAN in response to changing business needs
  • The need to access skills and experience not easily acquired and retained in-house
  • Broader IT outsourcing strategies intended to keep in-house staff more focused on core business imperatives than on general technology operations
  • A quest for better network performance that will contribute to improvements in both the digital customer experience and internal end-user productivity.

While these may theoretically be perfectly good reasons to engage a managed network service provider, the reality is a bit less simple. All service providers are not alike -- so network decision makers have to carefully evaluate any potential partner. And a successful service provider engagement doesn't just depend on a careful evaluation upfront. Even a relationship with a great partner can go south if you don't manage it correctly. 

Here, then, are six practical tips -- based on the hard-learned lessons of companies that didn't apply them -- for making sure that you build and maintain a successful long-term relationship with the right network service provider.

(Cover image: anadaBGD/iStockphoto)

 

Lenny Liebmann has been helping organizations successfully apply information technologies to their critical business challenges since 1973. His ongoing engagement with front-line IT practitioners and keen sense of what actually drives organizational behavior and outcomes in ... View Full Bio

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ClassC
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ClassC,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2015 | 3:17:10 PM
Vendor Technology Relationships are Important Too

"...That's why it's essential to both understand what technologies a service provider is using -- and, perhaps even more importantly -- the nature of the relationship between the service provider and the vendors of those technologies."

 

Great advice here, something that can be easily overlooked during the early stages of finding vendor.  Something network admins should focus on should the situation ever come up.

ClassC
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ClassC,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2015 | 3:10:07 PM
Throttling Down Processes When Needed

"...Agility often entails reducing certain services as well. The possibility of such reductions should therefore also be part of the upfront negotiation."

 

This is a very good point.  The ability to reduce processes is very important, what one needs today might be very different from what one needs tomorrow.

ClassC
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ClassC,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2015 | 3:01:26 PM
Disincentives and SLA's

@Lenny   Thanks for providing a realistic approach towards SLA disincentives.  I would really like to see what large enterprises are able to work out in this regard.

This of course is a difficult issue to negotiate but a major factor to consider.

ClassC
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ClassC,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2015 | 2:55:35 PM
Re: service providers

While I agree.  It just seems like there are so many factors to consider if you haggle over every detail, you might never get the project off the ground.

ClassC
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ClassC,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2015 | 2:53:22 PM
Re: service providers

This is great advice for vetting a WAN vendor before they become a central piece of your WAN expansion plans.  Though I wonder how many will be able or willing to provide any information on M&A or the selling off of any business units.

 

However this does represent due diligence, just not so sure it will be all that effective in the end.

Lenny Liebmann
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Lenny Liebmann,
User Rank: Author
11/23/2015 | 12:15:57 PM
Re: service providers
Thx.  And, yes, a lot of SP customers get surprised and frustrated by the contract change process when they need something unexpected done.  But pushing the provider on that process before you engage is a lot better than yelling about it afterwards!  :)
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
11/23/2015 | 12:10:28 PM
service providers
Lenny -- This is great guidance, thanks for all the helpful tips. It seems like some -- such as developing a contract change process -- are steps that organizations could easily overlook. 
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