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How do you measure a Managed IT service Provider?

How do you measure a managed service provider? A businessman crosses his fingers in hope.

When selecting a Managed Service Provider there are several measurements you can ask to see which will help you make your decision

  1. Conformance to agreed service levels is where you will find evidence that the MSP is concerned with tracking the technical aspects of their service
  2. Net Promoter Score indicates the MSP also tracks the human aspect of their service.
  3. An NPS score above +70 on a scale from -100 to +100 is World-class.  Computer One consistently measures +70.

It’s no surprise that many organisations are turning to managed it service providers to provide their IT function, either in partnership with their internal IT team or as a wholly outsourced function. There are a range of advantages in the model – see our previous article comparing the pros and cons of outsourcing versus 100% in-house IT for more information on that topic.

But how do you make the right choice of provider in the first place, and how do you stay confident in your choice month-after-month, year-after-year?

The answer is, with clear, unambiguous performance measurement.

Your Managed IT provider should be able to produce solid evidence of their performance against a range of objectives before you make the decision to use them. And after service commences, you should receive regular updates on the performance metrics that are important to your business.

We can only speak for Computer One, of course, but here are the statistics we track every day across each individual client and at the corporate level:

Conformance to SLA’s.

This is an umbrella category that contains many across-the-board statistics and some individualised measures that are relevant to a select group of our clients. Under this category you will find measures such as how many support tickets we have outstanding at any point in time, how fast we respond to support requests to acknowledge them, how fast we start working on them and how soon we resolve them. We also track at what level of our organisation (Level 1, 2 or 3) we resolve them. We track how quickly we answer the phone when you call, what kinds of support requests we are resolving (for the purpose of identifying repeated issues) and we track our clients’ network uptime. We also track the quality of service that our networks can deliver for client services such as VoIP and remote desktops.

Non-conformances.

We are certified to ISO 9001: Quality Management Systems. To keep our certification, we record instances of non-conformance to processes or missed performance levels. At regular review meetings, we examine the non-conformances in detail, pulling them apart and determining what went wrong. Where a process was missed, we correct the individual or team. Where a process was followed but we still failed, we correct the process.

Customer satisfaction.

Your provider should be able to demonstrate, at any time and at arm’s length, that they provide excellent customer service. The measure that we use is the international benchmark for customer satisfaction: the Net Promoter Score. This is a simple and transparent methodology that anyone can understand.

Here is how it works:

We ask the staff of our clients, who use our services every day, how likely they would be to refer us to a friend or colleague based on the service they have received. Those who score a 9 or 10/10 are classed as Promoters, people who feel they have received excellent service. Those who score a 7 or 8/10 are Neutrals. They’re satisfied, but wouldn’t go out of their way to endorse us to a friend or colleague. Those who score a 0-6 are Detractors. They might be expected to disendorse Computer One if an opportunity presents itself.

The NPS is worked out with this formula:

The percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors = your NPS.

So if you have 99% promoters and 1% detractors, your total NPS is 98.

Neutrals affect your overall score by taking percentage points off the table. If 20% of your respondents are Neutral (rating you a 7 or 8 out of 10) then even if the rest of your respondents are Promoters, the maximum score you can achieve is 80.

Your final NPS measure is calculated on scale from -100 (100% detractors) to +100 (100% promoters).

So, what’s a good Net Promoter Score?

Technically any score over 0 means that you have more promoters than detractors. But scores like that are not really good scores, are they? If you look at sources such as Customer Guru, you will find many hundreds of companies that are ranked in the -10 to +10 space. But this really just means that 10% more people are promoters than are detractors – hardly an indicator of broad customer satisfaction across the user base.

Computer One consistently scores above +70, in the zone considered to be World-class because it’s so hard to attain and keep a score so high. As few as 1 in 100 respondents can be a Detractor and pull you down below +70, depending on your neutral score.

Your Managed IT Provider should be able to show you their current NPS score, it should be calculated at arm’s length, and it should be above +70 if you want to enjoy World-class levels of service and satisfaction.

More information

If you would like to read more about the Net Promoter Score methodology, you can read the original article introducing it to the world: https://hbr.org/2003/12/the-one-number-you-need-to-grow and the most recent addition to the school of thought here: https://hbr.org/2021/11/net-promoter-3-0.

The last word

If your current managed service provider can’t provide you their SLA and NPS metrics on request, and isn’t reporting them to you every month, perhaps you should re-evaluate the value they are providing. There might be a better MSP waiting for your call.

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