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Making the right decisions starts with asking the right questions, and that’s especially true when you’re looking for an Application Management Services partners. 

Before you go all in, it’s good to take a long, close look at not just what a potential partner is offering, but how it differs from what others can provide, and what their track record is for performance, execution, and customer satisfaction.

Here are five key questions to ask as you’re vetting and evaluating Managed Services providers:

1. What’s your track record for performance?

Without performance, nothing else matters. Vendors can offer endless arrays of managed services and make all kinds of promises about how they’ll be executed. But at the end of the day, what counts is the ability to deliver on those promises. It doesn’t make any difference what’s in the agreement if isn’t upheld.

That’s why Columbus takes pride in achieving a 98.4% compliance rate for meeting our Service Level Agreement obligations in the US. It’s a sign that we don’t overpromise and that our sales team isn’t setting a bar that our support team can’t clear.

And it’s not just that we’re ready to assist you — it’s that we know time is of the essence. So we make it a priority to respond to every ticket within 15 minutes max. Our job is to remove the barriers that impede your team’s productivity, and that means helping you reduce downtime at every opportunity.

2. Where is your support team, and what time zone are they in?

It’s not just that we provide 24/7 support from an experienced and dedicated team composed of approximately 800 members worldwide, or that we have a service desk that gives you a single point of contact for all application-related incidents and service requests, prioritizes resolutions based on ITIL 4 processes, and sends timely incident status reports to users.

It’s also that we offer world-class support from experts who are in your own corner of the world. We pride ourselves on offering global strength and local presence.

That means that while we draw on the specialized knowledge and collective experience of our large global team, you’ll always be able to talk to someone in your own country and time zone whenever you need support.

This matters because language barriers and cultural differences can slow down the support process, affecting everything from troubleshooting conversations to documentation. And for optimal results, you need a support team who are awake when you are, and working on the same clock.

3. How experienced is your Team?

There are lots of metrics than can be used to evaluate experience and expertise. Here’s an important one: Are your support team members certified for the software they’ll be assisting you with?

At Columbus, we take certification seriously. If we’re helping you implement and maintain Microsoft software, you’ll be assisted by Microsoft-certified team members. That’s a level of support that not every provider makes the commitment to offer.

A few other compelling indicators:

  • Our team members have an average of 10+ years of experience
  • Our expertise is based on 9,000+ successful implementations
  • Our team has a track record of 80,000 customer issues resolved annually

4. How flexible is your pricing?

One of the best advantages of managed services is getting away from the old break/fix model, where you essentially wait for something to break down and then get it repaired. After all, letting disaster make the first move is antithetical to the goals of keeping your systems running smoothly and removing stress from your day.

In order to reduce downtime and maximize productivity, you need the kind of proactive, ongoing support and maintenance that will head problems off at the pass and enable a continuous, uninterrupted workflow.

Achieving that kind of service means designing a flexible agreement that’s more responsive to what you actually need, rather than locking you into a Procrustean arrangement that supplies you with lots of service hours when you don’t need them — and restricts them when you do.

So, we’ve built our service agreement to do a better job of making the support you need available when and where you need it. Here are a few examples:

  • Unlike other agreements that are limited strictly to break/fix support, our agreement allows you to use your retainer for any professional service that we offer.
  • Instead of a monthly time bank of hours that you have to “use or lose” in a given month, we allow you to roll your hours over from month to month within any given quarter.
  • At the end of each quarter, we allow you to “true up” or “true down” your payment for future quarters.
  • Since the first quarter of a new agreement is a “getting acquainted” period where you’re still figuring out your needs, we don’t charge any overages for the first quarter.

5. What Do Your Customers Have To Say About You?

Finally, you need to hear from satisfied customers who can enthusiastically endorse the work of the partner you’re going to be depending on.

Pre-existing testimonials and endorsements are all well and good, but for real transparency, there’s no substitute for an open and direct conversation with a client.

So, ask your potential vendor if you can connect with one or more of their current customers who have used the services you’re considering and ask about their experience. If they decline, well, that’s an obvious red flag. But if you ask Columbus, the answer will be a confident “Yes”.

Want to learn more about how Columbus Managed Services can boost your business while minimizing friction and downtime? Reach out today. 


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