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Operational maturity levels & your MSP

Align your business and your managed services provider for the greatest success.

The evolution of a businessman reflects an organization's operational maturity level.

At first glance, finding the right managed service provider to handle your organization's information technology might seem as simple as weighing their cost, size and reputation.

Those things matter. But it's too easy to overlook a foundational consideration that can mean the difference between your business struggling to maintain the status quo or embarking on a path of healthy growth.

That element is operational maturity. Aligning the operational maturity level of your business with that of your prospective MSP is crucial to seeing that your organization's needs are met and exceeded.

What is OML?

The operational maturity levels model (like other business maturity models) defines the stages of evolution for a service provider. The people behind any startup expect that their business will grow and evolve over time, on a steady climb toward peak efficiency and profitability, but that outcome is anything but guaranteed. Intentional steps in that direction may come in fits and starts. Forward momentum may stall.

Most organizations take an eyes-wide-open approach to their human resources, knowing that processes and practices with people at their core need to be managed effectively to buoy their enterprise's long-term prospects. A company's information technology, on the other hand, is more likely to be considered an annoying and costly necessity than an asset to be strategically employed in setting and achieving growth goals.

That sort of thinking leads to an enterprise being hamstrung by poor IT infrastructure, hobbled in any organizational push to higher performance.

A climb toward optimal resilience and consistency

The five levels of operational maturity for MSPs range from a reactive break-fix model at the bottom (OML 1) to the OML 5 partnership model that helps your business build a competitive advantage in your sector through augmentation of your IT environment.

At OML 2, an MSP has begun standardizing processes but isn't completely consistent in their execution. A managed service provider at this level is still focused on keeping your IT environment stable rather than helping you develop technology strategies that will enable your organization's growth.

OML 3 is where an IT service provider has reached broad organizational and process consistency as well as improved budget predictability. An MSP at this level can begin to move beyond a maintenance mindset and start strategizing IT enhancements to advance your business's agenda.

Managed service providers at OML 4 and OML 5 achieve consistent quality and high budget efficiency. These MSPs execute stable processes and communicate regularly and proactively with clients. Strategies between MSPs and their business partners are aligned. At the highest level, the MSP enables new business or revenue sources for their clients with IT enhancements that integrate with or drive organizational strategy.

Finding the sweet spot

At the most basic level, your service provider should specialize in IT services. An MSP whose core business is other than managed services will likely be less able to provide the depth and breadth of experience, service and knowledge than an MSP dedicated solely to managed services.

You want the MSP you choose to have a high-enough operational maturity level to meet your organization's needs, but your enterprise also needs to be able to follow through on the provider's solutions. If you don't have the manpower or time to incorporate the MSP's tools and resolutions or to meet for regular IT reviews and meetings, your organization may be better off with an MSP of a lower operational maturity level.

A more mature MSP's standardization of documented processes, well-managed infrastructure, knowledgeable staff and proactive strategic stance can make them a vital asset and trusted partner in your growth trajectory. To learn more about how your business can leverage IT as an engine of development, call ELBO Computing Resources at 605-361-3720.


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