Thinking About Making the Switch? Part Two
At the end of part one of this two-part blog series you were searching for a new, better provider for technology expense management (TEM) services. Armed with a clear understanding of why you’re dissatisfied you have surveyed the industry asking pointed questions and getting answers, some solid and some not.
Finally, you’ve come to a decision that you feel very comfortable with and it’s time to negotiate. Beyond the standard terms and conditions present in any agreement you need to be sure this provider will not repeat the shortcomings of the last.
You’re looking for a provider who will take good care of your business, not just at the beginning of the engagement but on an ongoing basis. You know the results will likely be best at the beginning when they uncover everything your previous provider missed, but you expect constant reporting that aligns with the information you want and need to manage your business most effectively. You also want easy immediate access through well-designed dashboards that let you drill-down deeply into the numbers. That’s the table stakes.
Your agreement should specify everything that will be managed from every department involved, and the needs of each department should be carefully delineated. You’re not necessarily looking for the fastest turnaround on everything. What you’re really looking for is someone who will learn, observe, and maintain your particular business rules. Perhaps you want to pay every invoice upon receipt. That’s what they commit to do. But if you want to consistently pay after 30, 60, 90 days or more for whatever budgetary reasons, then that’s what they’ll do instead. Your TEM provider is working on your behalf, not your vendor’s. They must execute according to your stated and documented plan.
Beyond paying bills at the time you specify, other metrics include inventory accuracy, promptness of replies to trouble calls, regularity, promptness, and accuracy of audits, and constant monitoring of the consistency of billing. If one user is charged a different amount than another user for the same service, your expectation should be that your TEM provider will catch and correct things like that. Accuracy of billing rates, alignment of performance reported to services billed is another metric that should be specified.
Also, at the end of part one, we discussed the importance of assuring you have enough “runway” time to smoothly transition to your new provider. Properly executed this will not be instantaneous. Data must be gathered, role assignments must be made, and depending upon the size of your organization this can take from weeks to months. The time you invest up front in the transition will pay back handsomely and constantly going ahead.
Quality TEM providers will supply you with a comprehensive, well-documented methodology that takes you through every step in the process in great detail.
Your TEM provider will look to you to assign key people to several important roles in the TEM process. These include a Project Sponsor who will link TEM to other corporate initiatives.
Procurement will furnish copies of current contracts, service orders, and existing processes. They will also be involved in supporting the TEM team as you configure workflows.
The key point of contact between your team and your TEM’s team is the Project Manager or Project Lead.
Your TEM will also provide subject matter experts (SMEs) who will need counterparts to work with in such areas as Finance, Vendor Management, Procurement, Human Resources, Data Preparation, Business Requirements and Deliverables. They will also need departmental contacts with whom to schedule training and any consultative sessions needed to clarify needs.
Your TEM will also need to know the specific people to connect with regarding IT, including network connectivity and access, data and network security, data management, and software integrations.
A well experienced TEM provider will furnish you with estimates of the time investment required from each of your team members.
Expect your TEM to provide a project sponsor from their senior executive team who will oversee, monitor, and advise on anything that requires assistance or intervention.
In addition to a Project Manager, you should expect a TEM team member to own responsibility for advising on the constant achievement of business excellence, one of the foremost goals of TEM. Along with these senior managers will be a team of Business Analysts, Project Developers, and Technical Trainers who you can expect to pay considerable attention to the issue of user adoption. This is key to the success of the entire project.
Four Phases for an Effective Transition
If the first thing your new TEM provider schedules is a kick-off meeting, something has gone amiss. Look at the process as happening in four distinct phases:
Even before you can kick off a TEM transition there’s much to be done. The scope of the program must be confirmed and planned out. Access must be given to the TEM provider to all the data they’ll be working with, including invoices, contracts, statements, reports, and much more.
More data gathering will occur in this stage as you work together to execute on all necessary software and business intelligence integrations, plan user acceptance testing for all new systems being introduced and establishing necessary routines for the provision of managed services.
In this phase user training begins, particularly of those within the company who will be responsible for future training. The teams will prepare for audits by establishing all the components of the audit. They will also create a “runbook” containing all needed particulars and setting out standard operating procedures. The goal of this stage is to earn approval to go live.
This is the point at which responsibility for managed services is handed off from the incumbent to your new provider. Once that is completed successfully the project goes live. Adoption encouragement is the name of the game here. All necessary personnel are introduced to all runbooks and other documentation. Any new support activities are transferred to all users. This final phase ends with an executive business review.
Ending at the beginning, remember, the first thing you should expect is thorough detailed documentation of this entire process, so you know what to expect every step of the way.
Missed part one of our blog series - Thinking About Making the Switch? Click here.