Thought Leadership

Evaluating a Provider

Evaluating a Provider Outsourcing is an opportunity to add value to your business and cultivate a knowledgeable resource/partner with complimentary skills.

You’ve decided to consider outsourcing and completed the outsourcing maturity self-evaluation we discussed in Outsource Maturity – Part 2.  You’re now in a position to create a REQUEST.  Remember you’re looking for a win/win for both you and the provider you select.   A provider who isn’t set up for a win can result in a lot of wasted time and effort by creating an avenue to pass on institutional knowledge with no future benefits.  Regardless of the task, if you’re attentive to the potential of cultivating an additional expert resource for the long term, you may discover competitive advantages along the way.

Once the REQUEST is completed and delivered to your provider(s), it’s time to evaluate their response.

Outsourcing or transferring the responsibility for a business function to an outsider is significant and can pose any number of challenges so it’s necessary to do everything in your power to give the relationship the best chance of success.

The evaluation process we suggest is designed to help you understand the traits, services and the personality of the provider.  It’s also designed to foster trust within the relationship.  A thorough evaluation can be a solid foundation for the relationship to flourish.

We suggest using the following guideline as a baseline and customize it to fit your own needs and personality.

Purpose of the evaluation

Depending on the need, there could be several candidate providers.  Your job is to first find a capable provider and second, find one whose culture and business philosophies complement yours.  Keeping this in mind will improve the likelihood of selecting a provider who will both perform the task and fit in with your organization. 

Beyond their answers, look for:

  • Do their current clients look like you?
    • Size, industry, technology
  • What motivates them?
  • How do they propose structuring the relationship?
  • Will their culture fit with yours?
  • What are they proposing for contractual responsibilities for each party?
  • What are their expectations; for you and for the project?
  • How does their resume describe a win?
  • How does their approach support your long term goals?

Evaluation 

Proposal Response

As you review their response, keep an eye out for how much research they did and how well they understand the underlying need for the project.

A well-developed response will:

  • clearly define the problem and challenges,
  • provide a clear description of how they’ll complete/perform the task,
  • clearly define roles and responsibilities of each party,

Metrics

  • How well/timely did they respond?
  • Did they demonstrate attentiveness in their research?
  • Did the proposal define the issue correctly?
  • Did the resolution meet your standards?
  • Was their plan well thought out and appropriately creative?
  • Do they have a history with these types of projects?

Use this opportunity to evaluate how far they’re willing to go to gather information, address your specific needs and how clearly they communicate their intent.

Problem Management

How will they handle your requests and problems?  Is it similar to your own philosophy?   A well thought out service request and problem management process is indicative of their commitment to customer service.

In the end, service quality will be a key factor of whether the relationship/project was successful.

Account Management

Understand their account management structure and how to direct your communication (i.e. the escalation process).

Value-added Services

It’s imperative that you look hard at the added value a provider offers.  This is often a differentiator between providers.  Do they offer additional industry access or technical experience that you lack or are in short supply?  Do they have any business alliances that could help you achieve your long term goals?  Do they offer any additional services that you could use at some point?

References

Most likely the provider will provide references.  Be sure to contact each one, request an appointment and interview them.  Don’t be shy, there’s too much at stake!  Inquire about their work performance and how they conducted themselves.  Since it’s assumed these references will be positive, you’re looking for insight into their corporate culture and how they handle the difficult issues that crop up.

Finally

Outsourcing is an opportunity to add value to your business and cultivate a knowledgeable resource/partner with complimentary skills.

The advantages of outsourcing are:

  1. you only have to pay for the services you use, as you use them,
  2. you gain access to additional resources ( skill sets, knowledge, tools, alliances, relationships),
  3. you can cultivate and retain an additional knowledge matter expert in your business.

To learn more about how Mainstream Technologies can help, please give us a call at 501.801.6700 or visit our website at www.mainstream-tech.com.

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