Collaborative Outsourcing and Trust: A New Tack for MSPs

Charles Weaver, CEO of the MSP Alliance, last month wrote about a common problem that managed service providers encounter with their internal IT departments—“inherent suspicions” about the real motives of an MSP.

“For as long as I can remember,” he says, “MSPs have struggled with how to disarm the threat of internal IT departments and their often incorrect views on managed services. I’ve heard many of these accusations from a) I’m going to lose my job, b) I’m going to lose my job to someone overseas, or c) I’ll keep my job but it will be greatly reduced in terms of importance to the organization.”

These concerns are not unique to internal IT departments; they can cut across many lines of business and outsourcing situations. In the Junkyard Dog Factor—one of 10 ailments that can disrupt or destroy an outsource partnership—the fear of job or turf losses often means that employees will go to great lengths to hunker down and stake their territorial claim to certain processes that simply “must” stay in house. It’s a recipe for suspicion, mistrust, operational inefficiencies and a less-than-optimal relationship.

Worries about job losses at the hands of an MSP or an outsource provider are not new, Weaver says, but they are wrong. In addition, it is a “belief that needs to be corrected immediately.”

A proper relationship with an MSP can prevent these false beliefs from becoming reality, Weaver says, and “the term ‘collaborative outsourcing’ can help.”

“First, the idea that a MSP would necessarily cause a customer IT department to lose a job is false. Originally, managed services were almost exclusively sold into the large enterprise. Rarely would these managed services relationships cause the customer to have to fire their internal IT staff.” Generally, IT staff would manage the outsourced partnership and have new duties focusing on core value to the organization. “Let’s not forget that one of the primary benefits of managed services is that it allows customers to focus on their business, not on managing IT.” Too often, he continues, internal IT staff “does NOT focus on core business objectives because they are doing other menial IT tasks that could be outsourced.”

Another myth around managed services is that it causes job loss due to offshoring. This idea has been “completely debunked,” Weaver. Offshoring is not outsourcing! “When companies claim to be providing IT outsourcing when it is really offshoring a job to another country, we must all make an effort to correct that type of misconception,” he asserts.

This is where collaborative outsourcing enters. Weaver calls it a way to “soften or change the tone of the conversation away from outsourcing (with its connotation of loss of control) to collaboration (and a tone of a deeper and more meaningful relationship). Outsourcing tends to lead people to believe that the relationship is being severed; there will be no more relationship once the deal is signed. But, a collaborative outsourcing relationship necessarily means there will be ongoing communication and participation between all parties.

“We can no longer sit by while our profession is incorrectly defined by those who do not even understand it.”

Well said! I’d add that in a collaborative, Vested partnership the idea that MSPs are out to steal jobs would never be a part of the definition.

[Image: the Creative process – collaboration by sand625 via Flickr]

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