Vendor management

What You Should Know about Vendor Management

The contingent space is changing, and it’s up to CEOs, CFOs, and CPOs to understand and analyze what is happening in order to ensure that their companies are addressing the contingent workforce tsunami that is soon to come. Your on-demand, non-permanent workforce is a dynamic ecosystem—one that is subject to change and evolve at any moment. You must be prepared in order to ensure continued cost savings, efficiency, and productivity.

The contingent workforce presents its own challenges, particularly when it comes to management. When different hiring managers and department heads use different vendors to source their talent, using different processes, services, and price points, the result is a largely disjointed and ineffective model that is riddled with inefficiencies and inconsistencies that affect your bottom line. Such a model will lead to suffering supplier relationships and missed opportunities for great talent.

The Managed Services Provider’s Role

As the contingent workforce continues to grow at a rapid rate, it becomes more critical than ever for your company to get a solid grasp on how to effectively manage your on-demand workers. Turning to a managed services provider (MSP) can allow you to optimize and streamline your contingent workforce management. As this workforce grows, it becomes more complex, and as such, it requires a greater level of expertise that an MSP can provide.

An MSP can analyze and design your program, review and re-engineer your process, optimize your supply-base management, implement change management, and create active cost management that will result in better value for your dollar. An MSP can take all of your people-based transactions and create a powerful marketplace where you can create a competitive bidding process, consolidate spend, and save an incredible amount of money all while exceeding services.

Vendor Management Technology

How does an MSP provide your organization with an ROI? Apart from its valuable experience and expertise in workforce management, it also uses vendor management technology. With the right technology, your managed services provider can create greater efficiencies, higher productivity, increased compliance, and high cost savings through increased visibility.

Vendor management technology can automate and streamline the processes that support the sourcing, acquisition, management, and payment of your on-demand workforce, including requisitions, approvals, time management and scheduling, expense management, payments, and reporting.

When you have big data working on your side to track, measure, and analyze your processes and your workers, you can make more informed decisions, save time, and save money.

Why a Neutral MSP Is Critical When It Comes to Vendor Management Technology

Not all vendors or technologies are created equal. Some will allow for better results than others, and it’s critical to have a neutral MSP that will make informed decisions based on your unique business culture, needs, and goals when making suggestions and recommendations.

MSPs that remain technology and vendor neutral can ensure that all decisions are made to support your exact needs and to add the most value to your business. Having the right vendor management system is critical for your ROI. A neutral MSP will not own or operate any specific system or technology. Rather, it will use total objectivity when determining which platform your company should use.

Transform Your Business for the Better

An effective vendor management system includes the support from a truly neutral managed services provider as well as the right technology. When you let the experts handle the workforce management processes and the technologies required for you to see the best ROI, you can have the best people, the best practices, and the best technology working to achieve your goals. You can bring order to your contingent workforce and your supply chain in order to positively transform your bottom line—and your business.

5 Must-Have Features of Your Remote Monitoring Solution

As a technology solution provider (TSP), chances are you have a desire to take your business to the next level. The TSPs that are successful in this endeavor have a key ingredient in common: they are armed with the right tools for growth. The most critical tool for success in this business is a powerful remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution.

So the question is, what should you be looking for when you purchase an RMM tool, and why are those features important to your business?

The right RMM tool impacts your business success with five key benefits. With a powerful and feature-rich RMM solution in place, you can:

Automate any IT process or task
Work on multiple machines at once
Solve issues without interrupting clients
Integrate smoothly into a professional services automation (PSA) tool
Manage everything from one control center
To better understand why these features are so influential, let’s talk a little more about each of them.

1. Automate Any IT Process or Task

Imagine being able to determine a potential incident before your client feels the pain, and fix it in advance to avoid that negative business impact. Being able to automate any IT process gives you the proactive service model you need to keep your clients happy for the long haul.

2. Work on Multiple Machines at Once

To solve complex issues, an TSP must be able to work on all the machines that make up a system. If you are attempting to navigate this maze via a series of webpages, it is hard to keep up with progress and makes it easy to miss a critical item during the diagnosis. Having the ability to work on multiple machines at once is paramount to developing your business model and maximizing your returns.

3. Solve Issues Without Interrupting Clients

One of the biggest challenges that MSPs face is fixing issues without impacting their clients’ ability to work. With the wrong tools in place, the solution can be nearly as disruptive as the issue it’s meant to fix. The right tool must allow a technician to connect behind the scenes, troubleshoot and remediate the problem without impacting the client’s ability to work.

4. Integrate Smoothly into a PSA Tool

Two-way integration between your RMM and PSA solutions eliminates bottlenecks and allows data to flow smoothly between the tools. The goal of integration is to enable you to respond more quickly to client needs as well as capture and store historical information that leads to easier root cause analysis.

A solid integration will also increase sales by turning data into actionable items that result in quotes and add-on solutions. The key areas to examine when looking at how a PSA and RMM integrate are:

  • Managing tickets and tasks
  • Capturing billable time
  • Assigning incidents based on device and technician
  • Scheduling and automating tasks
  • Identifying and managing sales opportunities
  • Managing and reporting on client configuration information
  • A solid integration into a PSA will create an end-to-end unified solution to help your more effectively run your IT business.

5. Manage Everything from One Control Center

The control center for your RMM solution should be the cockpit for your service delivery. Having the ability to manage aspects that are directly related to service delivery such as backup and antivirus from the same control center keeps your technicians working within a familiar environment and speeds service delivery. Also, it cuts down on associated training costs by limiting their activities to the things that matter on a day-to-day basis.

Success means equipping your business with the right features and functionality to save your technicians time while increasing your revenue and profit margins. Selecting an RMM solution that solves for these five influential features is the key to getting started down the path to success. What are you waiting for?


This article was provided by our service partner : Labtech. 

Best practices for software license management

Software license management is the process that ensures that the legal agreements that come with procured software licenses are adhered to.In a basic sense, it ensures that only legally procured licenses are deployed on systems.

Organizations spend a fortune on licenses every year, and a lack of management around it can result in heavy fines. In some cases, CIOs of certain organizations have been taken into custody for violating norms.

In this article, I will provide the basic concept of how software license management works along with a process map.

Prerequisites for implementing license management

1. Software Asset Management Tool – Organizations will have to invest in database software that is capable of recording various types of licenses against its respective owners. There are numerous software asset management tools available in the market, including free ones. All-in-one database tools are capable of storing deployment details of software along with license details. Popular ones on the market include FlexNet Manager by Flexera Software, Software Asset Management by Microsoft and License Manager by License Dashboard.

2. Software License Auditor Tool – The auditor tool runs over the company network, and identifies the deployed licenses across all systems of the network. The tool deploys its agents across all systems and in turn, these agents report the installed licenses to the central engine, which consolidates the total licenses residing on the network. An auditor tool that is capable of connecting through APIs with the software asset management tool should be preferred.

3. Asset inventory – Before getting into licenses, it is absolutely necessary to have an asset inventory with identified owners. The inventory must account for all systems in the organization, at least the operational ones. And, every system must have an owner or a name of someone who is accountable for what gets installed on the system.

4. People and processes – Management of software licenses does not happen with these tools alone. You also have to have dedicated license managers and processes that maintain compliance. The processes woven around software licenses must ensure 360-degree control over licenses purchased, deployed, archived and those that have expired.

Step 1: Obtain all procured license details

The starting point to software license management implementation is to find out where you currently are and what you own. You’ll store all the procured licenses identified.

Not all licenses come in the same shape and color. Here are some of the most common types:

Named user license – A license that can be used by a particular user
Volume license – A single license can be used on multiple systems depending on the purchased volume
License under enterprise agreement (EA) – Similar to volume license, terminology used by Microsoft when volume licenses exceed 250
Concurrent Licenses – Licenses that can be installed on any number of machines but can be used on a limited number of machines at any given point
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) – Software license that accompanies hardware
Evaluation – Trial license which may come with limited functionality or for a definite period of time
Free License – License that is available for free

Step 2: Identify all license deployments

Once you build a baseline of licenses owned by the organization, you’ll identify the deployment of these licenses across the organization. The software license auditor tool would be a big help in identifying the deployments. Manual inventory of software licenses, even if script driven, is a big no no.

All the license deployments would be consolidated together to identify how many machines are deployed with individual licenses. In the crude example that I have displayed above, the OS license is installed on three systems while the DTP license on two.

Names of system owners are important too if you are dealing with a named user license. Asset inventory comes in handy in identifying system owners.

Step 3 and Step 4: Compare license purchase vs. license deployments

In most cases, you should be able to tell if your organization is in software license compliance or not by comparing the procured licenses against deployed ones.

(As I mentioned earlier, named user licenses can be in non-compliance even if the number of installations is under control but against a wrong set of people.)

Step 4: Uninstall or procure licenses

If you are in compliance, there is nothing to fret. If you’re not, there are two logical choices – purchase more licenses or uninstall software from certain machines.

What next?

In this blog, I’ve given you ways to get a snapshot of what to expect with license compliance. But how do you ensure you remain in compliance at all times? There are solutions and processes to ensure that an organization stays in compliance at all times. I will introduce them in my next piece.

managed print

Select the Right Managed Print Service

We are moving toward the world of digitization as all businesses heavily rely on digitizing data. However, this change has not affected our mentalities and even today all the important, as well as routine, business activities and information is in hard copy. Not only that, but the use of print has been a difficult habit to change. A recent survey found an average 14% of global company revenue is being wasted on document related activities, owing to inefficient printing practices. In order to eliminate such expenses, it is important to adopt a Managed Print Service.

What is MPS and how it can be beneficial?

“Managed print services (MPS)” is a service offered by the external provider to manage and optimize document output and meet the printing needs of the entire firm. It also takes care of all the devices associated with the need for printing like printers, copiers, fax machines and multifunction devices.

MPS can not only reduce print related expenses, but it also helps to gain predictability about the expenses and gain better visibility. However, in order to avail the optimum benefits it is important to select the right MPS provider that can help the company to reduce the repair and maintenance costs. Below there are 5 tips that will help you to select the best MPS provider:

1. Should be able to provide multi-vendor support

Generally a company is expected to have all the same printing related equipment, but there can be exceptions. Hence, it is important to select an MPS provider that can provide services for all the type of equipment and should have the necessary expertise for required services and repairs. They should be able to provide necessary IT expertise for a wide variety of equipment.

2. Provide good customer experience

The MPS provider should be dedicated to improving the efficiency of print infrastructure, keeping in pace with the changing needs of the office. They should focus on improving the performance of the customers and enhance employee productivity. As per the survey done by IT advisory company Quocirca, it was found that 30% of the organizations viewed printing as a critical component for their business. Hence, it is important that the provider should be able to make printing a hassle free process and boost the company’s productivity.

3. Meet the demand for mobile printing

With the changes in the modus operandi of the businesses there is an increase in the demand of mobile printing. The businesses are functioning in a non-traditional environment and it has lead to an increase in the need for mobile printing. The MPS provider should be able to offer the apps or extensions that can fulfill the needs of mobile printing. They should be able to provide smart managed print services that can optimize and streamline the processes as well as workflow.

4. Should focus on enhancing the productivity

The MPS provider should not only focus on providing the print solutions, but should also be able to manage it more effectively and efficiently. They should be able to analyze the information regarding the printer usage and make necessary changes or recommendations in order to increase the fleet efficiency. It should be able to provide the required services as per the changing needs of the business. They should be able to streamline the workflow and provide cost effective solutions.

5. Maintain flexibility and consistency

The MPS provider should be ready to evolve and change as per the changing needs of the business and help them to face the challenges. Some companies may want to opt for a single vendor, while others might opt for multiple vendors. The MPS provider should be flexible enough to provide the solutions as per the needs of the company. Moreover, there has to be a consistency in standards of delivering the services across several locations over a span of time.

Summary:

The advantages of adopting MPS are way beyond reducing printing and paper usage. It can help your firm to streamline the process and workflows by managing fewer devices, fewer pages and lowered costs. It also helps you to enhance the knowledge of worker productivity and manage the increasing information and data.

What can be considered ‘warranty management’ for a managed IT service?

In the plethora of IT offerings companies are faced with, products and services have become extremely competitive not only with regards to price, but also in offering their assurance that what they offer is of good quality, will last in time and can deliver on its promise. As this has become the norm, no business would dare buy hardware or software that came without a written warranty. But how can organisations have some sort of guarantee of quality and efficiency when what they want to buy is not a product but a service?

Best practice is designed to understand the utility and warranty of any investment and it is important the distinction between the two is understood. The utility of an investment is the recognition of whether it is ‘fit for purpose’; the warranty goes beyond that to recognise whether your fit-for-purpose product is actually fit for use.
Firstly, it is important to understand which aspects are central in defining what can be identified as ‘warranty’ for a managed service. A good track record is of course imperative for the Service Provider, but this does not necessarily mean a very large number of clients of all types and sizes. Larger and widely-known Service Providers are not automatically the best choice for an organisation – can they understand your particular business, give you what you need and deliver the most cost-efficient service? You will find that a provider which is specialised or has relevant experience in dealing with organisations that are very similar to yours in type, size and needs might be the best choice for you. So this is what you should look at as a guarantee: a provider that has successfully carried out projects for clients that are similar to your organisation.

At the same time, it is important that the provider does not offer you an out-of-the-box solution for ‘all organisations like yours’. You might be similar in your structure and needs to other organisations, but this does not mean that you do not have some important differences. For example, NHS clinics all have similar needs and structure, but are very different in the way they deal with them – most clinics will use customised software and have different types of end users. The same is true for financial firms, from banks to private investment or currency exchange firms, where efficient and tailored IT is a vital element for their success. In fact, every sector is vastly different, so in a selection exercise, be sure to understand the Service Providers you are talking to can offer positive evidence that they have supplied similar solutions. Further to that, Service Providers that service a wider range of sectors will typically have a greater advantage in providing bespoke or ‘tailored’ solutions for your organisation.

These aspects are crucial in your choice of Service Providers, but what can guarantee the quality of the actual service itself? This mainly lies in the Service Level Agreement (SLA), which outlines agreed levels of performance monitored through certain metrics such as First-Time-Fix rate, calls answered within a set time, Abandonment rates, etc. These targets need to be consistently met, and if they are not, the Provider will be in breach of the SLA, which can have a financial impact. Consistently missing targets might mean the Provider losing the client and, in the long run, their reputation as well. With these metrics in place, it is in the provider’s own interest to perform at their best and not incur in fines or contract termination.

The choice of SLAs can make the difference between real and perceived efficiency and inefficiency. It is good practice to spend some time deciding, together with the Provider, what metrics to adopt (some will be more relevant than others) and where to set targets. Metrics have to be very detailed – setting a typical ‘70 % First Time Fix rate’ on its own is not enough. Ask yourselves: what counts as FTF? It normally refers to simple and common issues dealt with by Service Desk staff; but should printer cartridge replacement be considered a FTF even if it’s done by desk-side engineers? If some end users insist in a desk visit will it not be included in the FTF rate? This allows to have a clearer picture of how efficient of inefficient the service is and to understand if a managed service solution is right for your organisation or should be somehow modified to improve performance.

These metrics need to be tangible and agreed before they are incorporated into a live service.

In conclusion, we could say that a ‘warranty’ for a managed service should cover both the Service Provider and the service offered. It is a guarantee of quality if the Service Provider has the right track record for your company and the appropriate SLAs are in place, as well as fines and penalties for breach of the agreement. Only by carefully choosing the Service Provider which will manage your IT service it is possible to achieve efficient IT which is able to support and enable business success whilst bringing cost savings and general efficiencies to working practices.

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This piece has been published on ITSM Portal.