Here’s How IT Leaders Are Solving Their Top 3 Vendor Accountability Challenges

In Business of IT, Service Providers

Has vendor accountability morphed into a beast your IT organization can’t seem to tame? If so, don’t worry; you’re not alone in your fight. We regularly encounter IT departments that are finding oversight of their outsourced providers to be more challenging than expected. Equally concerning is what limited information these managers are relying on to supervise and impact service performance.

We understand the need for teams to offload work to outsourced providers in order to deliver services at a higher velocity, a lower cost, and with a faster ROI. External service providers have all but become indispensable to a functional IT service operation. Yet the complex and often messy process of coordinating providers is causing new problems for IT leaders. Many managers describe oversight processes plagued by inconsistent SLAs, a lack of governance, frustrated business users, high support costs, poor service experiences, and more.

With IT as the de-facto owner of the overall end-user service experience, your service reputation has become a casualty of third-party provider performance. The rest of the business looks to IT when technologies and services fail, leaving you in the hot seat for unstable service. And other departments don’t care whether an internal or external team is specifically to blame for an outage or service issue — they just want applications and services to work as expected.

Service Accountability Issues: They’re More Common Than You Think

Yes, your IT organization may have ceded some control over service delivery — but that doesn’t mean you should lose visibility of service performance and processes. On the contrary: your ability to access accurate data insights and hold outsourced providers accountable is critical. This is especially true considering 29 percent of IT leaders are now spending the majority of their budget on external providers.

IT supervisors from diverse industries and companies of all sizes share with us service accountability problems that revolve around three key areas: processes, metrics, and communication. Here’s a glimpse into the issues that leading IT organizations are experiencing — and how they’re working to solve those challenges.

1. Increase Process Visibility

Without visibility into provider behaviors and relevant processes, IT organizations have no way to locate the breakdowns that result in disgruntled customers and service instability. We recently spoke with IT leaders at a Fortune 200 company who were aware of discrepancies among vendor-reported SLAs, incident resolution times, and customer satisfaction levels. But what they couldn’t see was where the process fell apart. The result? Customers were unhappy and IT had no clear way to pinpoint or resolve the issue.

With analytics they discovered that internal teams and an outsourced service provider were wasting hours passing incident assignments back and forth. An incident request assigned to the service provider would remain in their workflow for hours, be reassigned to an internal team, and subsequently get reassigned back to the provider. With complete visibility of this chaotic incident reassignment process, IT leaders were able to refine their workflows and service provider behaviors. This change resulted in reduced callbacks from customers, increased satisfaction, and clearer expectations around service delivery to customers.

2. Drive Metric Transparency

We frequently hear stories about how IT leaders rely on self-reported provider metrics and end up with inconsistent measurements or numbers that don’t align with the results. Vendor-provided reports may seem like an easy and effective method for monitoring performance, but in reality these practices can cloud your visibility. Numerify recently conducted a survey in which nearly one third of the 200 IT professionals surveyed admitted to being unsure of whether their outsourced providers were meeting SLAs and other contractual metrics.

One customer we’re working with faced an issue where a lack of consistent data across different service providers made it impossible to attain a clear view of performance. Vendor-provided monthly spreadsheets tracked limited metrics and were difficult to interpret. As a result, IT had no way to pinpoint where problems were originating and didn’t know who to hold accountable for low customer satisfaction numbers. By creating a comprehensive analytical dashboard, managers gained insight into all relevant SLA metrics and could quickly detect non-compliant service provider behaviors.

3. Improve Communication

It’s not at all unusual for communication problems to become more prominent when third-party providers are thrown into the IT equation. The broader challenge arises when a lack of information leads to ineffective processes or an inability to hold service providers accountable. We recently helped one IT organization untangle themselves from just this type of situation. Team leaders were aware of a problematic ticket measurement setup, but didn’t have the right tools or communication measures to properly address the issue.

After implementing analytics to evaluate ticket workflows and spot inefficiencies, the resulting insights were used to help build a more sustainable communication channel with providers. Now the team has an effective way to monitor incident volume and trends, as well as the measurements needed to hold service providers responsible for negative trends. This change also brought about a reduction in customer callbacks and an increase in customer satisfaction levels.

Learn more about the value of business analytics for improving vendor transparency in our recent webinar on service accountability. Click here to view the webinar now.

[Photo credit: Unsplash.]

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