3 Ways To Measure The Success Of An IT Partnership (Metrics & More)
From productivity to turnaround times, project metrics to on-time arrivals: all businesses track metrics. Metrics are important and provide a specific measurement of performance over time. But other indicators are also important when evaluating the effectiveness of business partnerships.
At Kelser Corporation, a managed services provider (MSP), our team tracks sales, budget, customer satisfaction rates and a variety of other metrics that keep us on track and performing optimally.
But, having been in the role of chief executive officer for a number of years, I have come to realize that there’s more to success than just the numbers.
Our team maintains regular contact with our customers so that we know what’s working and where there are opportunities for improvement. We believe that honest communication and executing on our commitments provide the truest measure of our success.
Honest communication ensures that all of us are on the same page about what’s coming down the road so we are all appropriately prepared and there are no surprises.
Whether you are considering working with an MSP for the first time or are in a partnership already, you may be wondering how to gauge whether or not your MSP delivers.
In this article, I’ll talk about 3 key ways to know whether your MSP partnership measures up.
3 Ways To Measure A Successful MSP Partnership
If you asked me to list the important aspects of a successful MSP partnership in order of importance, I’d rank them as follows:
As with any successful relationship, one of the key measures of success is open and honest communication. Both parties need to establish trust and the best way to do that is through regular communication about what is working and where there are opportunities for improvement.
Honest and frequent conversations ensure that everyone is on the same page about progress and areas for improvement.
You want an MSP that is looking out for the best interests of your business, keeping your infrastructure secure, available and efficient. We want to be a strategic partner that you rely on for IT expertise and strategic advice that positions your business to achieve goals and ensure future success.
2. Follow Through
Without follow through, the best intentions and communication skills are meaningless. Executing on our commitments builds trust with our customers and enhances our relationship, cementing our role as a true strategic contributor to the businesses we serve.
Through informal conversations, regular site visits and quarterly review meetings, an MSP should let you know how things are going.
Are we on-schedule? Where is progress being made? What is getting in the way? Are there hardware delivery issues? Are there internal glitches?
Who on your staff has jumped through hoops to make sure deadlines are being met?
What’s next? What’s on the agenda for the next few months? What is your three-year plan and how can IT help you succeed?
As an MSP, our goal is no surprises…for you or for us.
3. Key MSP Metrics
While we know metrics aren’t everything, here are a few that we track to ensure that we measure up to customer expectations:
First Contact Close Rate
# Calls Resolved On The First Call ÷ Total Calls
As consumers, we all want to work with businesses that resolve our issues quickly, efficiently, and correctly the first time. Your MSP should be no different.
The first contact close rate measures the ability of a support organization to answer customer questions and/or resolve issues on the first contact. Some MSPs track calls, emails, and chats, while others may measure success rate by calls alone.
It is important to understand how an MSP measures this so that you can compare the rates effectively.
While the first contact close rate can be an important metric, it’s important to understand how the MSP defines “closed” and whether there is a focus on the “closed” numbers at the expense of an effective solution. As with most things in life, balance is key.
Another important indicator may be how many tickets are elevated to a Level 1 or Level 2 engineer on the first contact, which can indicate the MSP’s commitment to not only resolving issues on the first contact, but making sure issues are resolved in the best way possible.
A standard benchmark for First Contact Resolution Rate typically falls in the 70-75 percent range, but globally it can range from 40-90 percent.
Average Response Time
Total Response Time ÷ # Of Responses
We’ve all experienced that customer service black hole, where your question, comment, or request goes unresolved for weeks (and sometimes even unanswered forever).
Your IT infrastructure is a lifeline to your customers and employees, so you need a partner that is committed to responding to all issues within a reasonable amount of time.
Average response time can vary by industry and location, but usually ranges from within one hour to up to 5-½ hours.
Average Resolution Time
Total Resolution Time ÷ Total # Of Tickets
How long does it take to resolve issues reported to the help or service desk?
Again, a word of caution. If your MSP is too focused on this metric alone, items could be “resolved” only to have the issue rear its ugly head again a few weeks or months later.
Make sure you know how your MSP is measuring “resolution time” and that it focuses on issues that are truly resolved long-term.
Service-Level Agreement (SLA) Compliance Rate
Tickets Resolved Within SLA Compliance Rate ÷ Total Tickets
SLA compliance rate can be an effective measure of success, but also can be influenced by the specifics of the SLA. For example, if one MSP offers a four-hour SLA, while another company guarantees a two-hour SLA, that could easily influence the compliance rate.
MSPs also may categorize and track SLAs separately for high-, medium-, and low-level issues.
There are different ways to slice and dice this metric, so make sure you understand how your MSP calculates it.
Tickets Closed vs. Tickets Logged
Tickets Closed ÷ Total Incoming Tickets In Same Time Period
This simple measure can offer a lot of information about the efficiency of the overall organization because it tracks two different parts of the service process.
This metric tracks the number of times customers contact the service or help desk and the number of tickets closed in the same time period.
The closed tickets likely include the first contact closed tickets, but also include lingering tickets that have been resolved.
This one metric offers a glimpse at the total responsiveness and success of the organization.
Ready To Find Out More About MSPs?
We’ve talked about some of the important metrics that most MSPs track and why they matter.
We’ve covered some typical MSP metrics in this article: First Contact Close Rate, Average Response Time, Average Resolution Time, SLA Compliance Rate, and Tickets Logged vs. Tickets Closed.
Metrics are important and Kelser holds regular review meetings with customers to discuss the metrics we collect. Most times though, customers don’t ask to see those numbers because things are running smoothly, which leaves us time to focus on how we can help achieve success for future business goals.
This is one example of what I mean when I say that the truest measure of a successful MSP partnership is trust.
You want an MSP that treats your business the way it treats its own, and that provides you with an IT infrastructure that is efficient, safe, and available.
You want an MSP that understands your industry, your business goals, and your unique IT requirements.
You want an MSP partner that is agile and looking for solutions to issues before they even become a problem.
While metrics are important, it’s also critical that your MSP has the technical readiness and expertise to support your organization, while at the same time having people on staff who can translate that expertise into a language that users can easily understand.
Want to know more about how to choose an MSP that will be a good fit for your business? Read this article: Choosing an MSP? 10 Qualities Of Successful IT Providers.