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You’re Working with an MSP: Now What?

Sep 19, 2016 | Rob Pfeifle | Managed Services
You’re Working with an MSP: Now What?

This is the third post in a series of ITSM blogs, so before you read on, you may want to check the previous posts in our ITSM series—“ITSM and ITIL: What Are They?” and “ITSM: Start Closing the Gap.”

Now that you’re working with an MSP, you will begin to notice a number of positive changes within your organization. At this point in the process, you may also realize that one or two of the MSP’s proposed solutions have yet to meet established benchmarks. Rest assured—a good MSP is aware of these gaps and is already working on a plan to close them.

In fact, MSPs who follow the ITIL framework will begin measuring data, reviewing services, and evaluating processes the moment implementation begins. When a problem is identified, the MSP researches its cause, defines initiatives to solve it, and measures the impact of the implemented solution. If goals are reached earlier than expected, the MSP re-evaluates whether the service can reach subsequent benchmarks ahead of schedule. This regularly repeated process is one of ITIL’s core best practices known as Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

Continual Service Improvement is most often illustrated as an unbroken cycle of Plan, Do, Check, and Act, also known as the Deming circle. In this model, “Plan” refers to designing a solution, “Do” refers to implementing those solutions, “Check” refers to measuring results, and “Act” refers to evaluating and correcting the solution based on measured results.

Continual-Service-Improvement

Measurement

One of the most important parts of measurement is to identify critical success factors (CSFs) from a sea of available metrics. This data is compared against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) established during the design phase, as well as other relevant performance and availability metrics, to determine whether CSIs are present in the services and processes being delivered. The MSP must collect data throughout their service delivery and analyze it to improve the services, processes, and technology that do not yet reach the KPIs and CSFs in the Service Level Agreement. 

Service Review

Your MSP will conduct regular reviews of your business services and infrastructure services to ensure quality and efficiency. By reviewing the service measurements outlined during the measurement process, your MSP can develop more efficient ways to deliver services to meet your overall goals. During these periodic reviews, your MSP will discuss your long-term goals, your current state, and the state you’d like to reach.

Process Evaluation

Unlike service reviews, which analyze your company’s externally facing services, process evaluations delve into your internal processes to determine how they can be improved. Similarly to service reviews, process evaluations involve an intense focus on metrics to determine areas for improvement. Process evaluations are based on regular audits and maturity assessments to determine who is adopting new processes and how quickly end users are adjusting to them.

Definition of CSI Initiatives

Once service reviews and process evaluations have been completed, the MSP defines specific CSI initiatives that can be enacted and measured before the next review cycle begins. While your MSP is likely to take on several of these initiatives, they may suggest that you maintain responsibility for some of them too, when relevant. Each CSI initiative is designed, implemented, and monitored to help you maintain momentum toward reaching your long-term objectives, which essentially brings the improvement cycle back to the beginning.

Monitoring of CSI Initiatives

As newly-defined initiatives are implemented and the next review cycle approaches, active CSI initiatives are monitored, measured against the plan, and managed just like the MSP’s initial services. Upon further review, the MSP’s services continue to go through a cycle of design, implementation, and review during which initiatives are analyzed and corrected as necessary. As a result, your services and processes become increasingly fine-tuned and optimized throughout your engagement with the MSP.

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