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Managing Multiple Service Providers for Effective Business Services

I’ve seen many times how Customers change from an only provider of services (outsourced or internal) to a complex new scenario of multiple service providers.

Many times these customers are not conscious of the impact on their Service Model regarding this new reality.

Also the new Cloud Computing services now available are creating this situation. We are moving from single service providers to multiple service providers.

In this situation, a detailed Service Model is required to coordinate and keep delivering to Business what is expected.

Step #1 – Visualize the Problem

Yes it is true: most of the time Customers don’t see the problem. They have moved from one service provider to multiple, and think that now they (the service providers) only have to coordinate by themselves. So the first step in helping the customer to visualize that now there is a gap in Business Service Delivery.

The point is that Customers have moved from a single provider that provided Technological Services, but as it was the only one (i.e. the service provider), it also delivered the whole Business Service. Now with multiple players, everyone is responsible only for their own Technological Service, but no one is responsible for the overall Business Service.

Step #2 – Build Two Orchestrator Groups

Having seen the problem, it is required to set up a new group for orchestrating Business Services. Again there are two levels inside this group. There is an IT Governance Office group focused on Business Service Design. But there is also a SPOC (i.e. Single Point of Contact) that is responsible for Business Service Operations. Both will be horizontal to all Technological Services and as a result also horizontal to all Service Providers. So, these two groups need to have enough authority for making decisions.

Step #3 – Agree to a Service Model with each Provider and the final Customer

Now Business SLA (Service Level Agreements) will depend on each of the service parts. Having only one of the Technological Service Providers that doesn’t meet Business Service Requirements, the overall Business Service will not be able to meet Customer Requirements. So, first of all, the new IT Governance Office needs to meet Customers and gather those Business Requirements. Then they have to meet each of the Technological Service Providers and check with them how their services are related to the final Business Service and agree with them about their part. Finally, again meet with Customers and agree to a Service Model, including the sign up of each of the parties.

Step #4 – Agree to Operational Processes Integration with each Provider

Ok, the IT Governance Office (ITG) has agreed to the standards of service, but now both the ITG and the SPOC need to agree with each of the providers how they are going to interact in each of the Operational Processes (Event Management, Incident Management, Service Request Management, Change Management, Release Management, etc.).

This step is critical for the kick-off of the Service in a production environment. If you go live without completing any of these 4 practical  steps, you will definitely have a BIG GAP in your operations and a lot of problems in the day to day Service. So please,  think of this time as an investment for peaceful and effective Business Services. 

What’s your experience managing multiple providers?