In this thought leadership blog, I will discuss how customers are seeking to get full access to how their SAP landscape is managed. And in turn, how Managed Service providers should be equipped to accommodate their customers with full transparency. This blog post will explore ways in which MSPs should be transparent in not only their service delivery approach, but also the way in which they use technology to manage SAP environments.
Information Technology is Complex – So Make Communication The Key
Information technology in general is very complex, with multiple layers at work to make any type of IT application function properly. For an SAP environment there are various components that must work together to successfully run the application, but that also make it complex to properly manage such as networking configuration, databases, operating systems, and security In today’s world there’s no such thing as a one person IT team, but rather dozens if not hundreds (at large companies) of employees make up an IT department (each with a specialize skill set) that must cooperate together to optimally run a complex IT landscape. Inside companies with internal IT departments they all traditionally reside under “one roof” where there can be dozens of meetings held in any given week to coordinate all of these efforts. There’s also typically a hierarchy of management, and organized processes to keep all these dynamic and complex components working efficiently together.
In general, I feel that tends to work well for most large companies. While some IT employees might argue that from time to time even internal communications are not the best on any given IT project, generally all employees are kept in the know. And if there are any questions or issues they can simply walk down the hall and ask a team member for help.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
That all changed however, when companies began to outsource management of their IT systems, that once streamlined in-person approach to communication inherently broke down. Unlike before, you can no longer just walk down the hall and tap somebody on the shoulder to get an IT issue resolved or question answered. You are now exclusively reliant on working with an external team, who most likely is supporting a very critical portion of your IT environment. A new way to communicate must be established between internal teams and the external managed services partner. Which at times can be both scary and anxiety ridden for SAP customers that do not have a good communication channel established with their MSP. I know from talking with many frustrated prospects over the past several years, that in the worst-case scenario when there is a critical problem and there is no communication with or from their MSP – its maddening! As an SAP customer you want and deserve to know why the issue occurred, what the root cause was and most importantly who or what is being done to resolve the problem.
It’s in our human nature that in a crisis we want to know all of the information as soon as possible, especially to feel more in control of a situation that is out of our control. Having instant access to communicate directly with those that have vital information is the way to relieve the anxiety of the unknown. For example, when a family member is ill we cannot wait to talk directly to the doctor that has the critical information (good or bad) and until we get this information are fraught with anxiety.
Now in a scenario where your SAP system is experiencing an issue having a lack of communication with your MSP can compounded worry with mounting frustration. Your management team wants answers now and you do not have them, meanwhile your system is in crisis and you are left scrambling to understand why.
I remind my team of this, as they have counterparts within our customers, who have their own management team that they need to report to as well. Their manager is at their desk asking what the issue is, and how is it being resolved. So we were sure to build fluid and transparent communication within our service delivery model, as this has proven to be so vital for our customers to have the answers and feel confident in the support they are receiving.
T is for Transparency
So what do I mean by transparency as it relates to your MSP? Transparency is the ability for an MSP to openly communicate directly to their customers in a frequent and consistent manner. With effective communication methods that keeps them up to date of what’s happening and why it’s happening applying to both issues and steady state operations.
I cannot stress this enough in a crisis situation having access to information is critical. Even if it is just communicating to the customer every 30 minutes that there is no resolution yet, but it is actively being worked on. Now the customer has an answer to give their internal team and feels confident that the issue is being actively addressed.
Transparency is Two-Way
It’s important to understand that transparency goes well beyond just communicating issues in a crisis, its extends to having full transparency into your outsourcing relationship and ultimately trust. Take for example, openly sharing of documentation that an MSP has created jointly with the customer. I can tell you, there are a lot of managed service providers that consider this documentation to be their intellectual property and are not willing to share it with their customers. While I would argue that sharing of this documentation is critical to a customer’s own success, and the SAP processes documented are not a secret as they still require a knowledgeable consultant with the right experience to implement. So why not give customers full access to this information to ensure their system’s overall health? For instance, customers that are FDA compliant, are required to document any change in their infrastructure including how it was done and proof that it was completed correctly. Your MSP should be transparent and willing to sharing this documentation with you, as it’s not only very critical for a particular audit, but also a procedural requirement for your system’s well-being.
Transparency in Technology
At Managecore we incorporate the concept of transparency not only in all of our communication methods, but its purpose built within our monitoring toolset (Managecore’s Watchdog). We give our customers access to our monitoring tools and strongly believe this is very important for two main reasons.
First, we are delivering a full and complete view into our customer’s own systems. If for example, our customer is notified by their end user that the system performance is slower than usual, they have the proper access to log into Managecore’s tools and can view their system performance for themselves. They can see first-hand that the server performance is slow and can even drill in deeper to see if there’s any errors or if something else is going on causing the issue. Our customers are empowered and stay educated on their own systems in real-time with direct system access.
The second reason Managecore feels transparency is so important and why our customers have this layer of direct access to our toolset is that we have found that overall time to resolution has decreased. This is due in part to the customer knowing what is going on within their own business. Giving access to Managecore’s unique SAP monitoring toolsets allows our customers the same level of visibility that we have, but they are armed with knowledge of the daily operations. A perfect example of this is when slow performance is identified, the customer is able to instantly understand if the business is undergoing something that may negatively impact the system performance, such as a large shipment got pushed out that day or maybe finance is running special reports for a new customer order. The Managecore support team may not be aware of this, so with this added layer of transparency into their systems, our time to resolution is faster, as we are able to quickly pinpoint the root cause of the issue and come to a resolution much faster.
Transparency Builds Trust
Ultimately, I believe having this level of transparency throughout Managecore’s support model has led us to build a greater level of trust with each and every one of our customers. In turn giving our customers the reassurance and confidence in our ability to manage their mission critical SAP environment.
Now I will say that with this level of true transparency at times has made for very honest conversations, but I believe that our relationships with our customers have only grown stronger because of the mutual trust we have built by being so transparent. I feel that like in any professional relationship if you have mutual respect, trust and transparency you can get through even the toughest of issues together. We know that in the world of IT, issues are inevitable and the level of complexity of SAP environments is no stranger to unavoidable issues, however it is how they are handled that makes the difference. I strongly believe the key to unlocking that is simply through transparency.
SAP customers today should demand transparency from their MSP and rightfully so. If your MSP is not willing to build a fully transparent relationship with your team, it is time find a new team to manage your SAP landscape.
At Managecore our experience in the industry has taught us what works and what SAP customers are expecting. In turn, we embody a truly client-focused approach that you won’t find anywhere else, built on trust, transparency, communication, and collaboration.