Financial services firms have some fairly unique, and specialist requirements when it comes to outsourced IT support provision, especially within the alternative investment arena.
Businesses connected with financial institutions, financial centres and capital markets are a natural high value target for malicious attack for a number of reasons, and businesses in this sector also involve more substantial levels of required compliance, and systematic complexity in their day to day operations than other sectors.
All of these factors make it more challenging to support from a supplier perspective and it is for this reason that a few truly niche companies have specialised their IT support services around these requirements.
This blog is designed to help a specific group of people
This blog is aimed at helping office managers, Chief Operating Officers, IT managers, smaller business owners and management teams within the private equity, hedge fund, asset management and similar companies. The aim is to assist them in applying due diligence to selecting an appropriately skilled support provider with the required skill and service levels.
The blog is written in the form of a question and key recommendations checklist.
The advice is separated into 6 clear stages to help you cover the right points at the right times when assessing your options, so please just make use of the parts you feel are most relevant to your current situation.
Questions and pointers for your initial research
- Ask contacts in your industry for recommendations – a real world experience is often the best measure of happiness. (much of our business at Tribeca Technology Group is referral based). The financial services industry is quite big, but the circle of true specialist providers is quite small!
- Look for specialists in your industry that understand your business and the important role that technology plays within it
- Check how many engineers do they have, and how far away are they from your office? Response time is everything in this industry and whilst many issues can be handled remotely, many also cannot.
- What hours do their service desk operate? If you have an international business then 24/7 advice and response is critical.
- Do they offer fixed pricing or pay-per-ticket? Clarity on regular and ad hoc costs is always going to be important.
- What is their client retention rate? Strong retention indicates that clients are happy with their experience and perhaps is a good indication of your own likely future experience. (as an example, at Tribeca Technology Group we haven’t lost a client to a direct competitor, in 13 years and we gain a lot of business on referral as a result
- Do they offer custom reporting? Your industry is specialist, and some standard reporting may not cover all the bases.
How do they track tickets and measure performance? (good support companies should be able to prove their SLA claims). In the financial services sector, there are some specific metrics that are useful to know.
- How simple is their migration process?
Questions and pointers for your supplier meetings
- 3-5 companies to meet with – having a comparison can really help you qualify the value proposition
- Understand the way they work and familiarise yourself with their service.
- Structure a set of standardised questions to ensure that nothing is missed (it’s easy to get drawn off into the suppliers preferred topics without this framework to make sure everything gets addressed)
- Do they instil confidence in you? (this might be in terms of personality, but also should have some back up proof from clients, statistics, or some other valid base)
- Focus the conversation on the challenges your business is facing and how the MSP will resolve them (it is also worth discussing any expansion or relocation plans to see how they will manage those larger projects)
Questions and pointers for reviewing your supplier proposals
- Have the MSPs answered all the questions you had in an easy-to-read proposal document? (if they use complex layouts and jargon now, it’s likely to be that way moving forward)
- HINT: It’s worth compiling the offerings and prices into a spreadsheet so you can easily compare them
- Does the proposal include everything discussed within your meeting, and address the concerns you have? (if not, it implies that the MSPs listening skills aren’t that strong, and that they perhaps have a detail focus deficiency)
- HINT: Don’t focus purely on cost – at this stage you will likely already have a preference, and for a good reason. The relationship with your MSP needs to be one based on trust, confidence and an aligned mindset.
Questions and pointers for your team and theirs
- Make sure you discuss the offering with your colleagues – a second point of view always helps
- Discuss the proposals with the MSPs and ask questions (don’t be afraid to ask the difficult ones or challenge any answers that are not filling you with confidence)
- Ask for any additional materials they have, such as case studies and migration process documents (this indicates their level of systemisation, and shows where they have real world experience of similar past projects)
Questions and pointers to help you shortlist the finalists effectively
- Credit and reference check the MSPs (example credit checking service)
- Are there any migration costs?
- Meet with the provider more than once – it may take between 2 & 4 meetings to satisfy yourself
- Ask for a tour of their facilities e.g. office and data centre (this gives an insight into the back office and how they manage themselves)
- Take time to thoroughly review the SLA contract
Questions to help you make the ultimate decision
- Throughout the entire process you will have had a preference to a provider – trust your instincts!
- Negotiate a maximum contract term of 12-months – a sensible period to trial the experience.
- Learn what the notice period is and negotiate if it is unreasonable
- Does the contract auto renew?
Summary and additional information
We hope that you find this blog guide useful, and would like to offer you a handy digital infographic summarising these key points.
To request a copy please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference this blog URL in the title of that message. We’ll then arrange for one to be sent across.
For more general information on IT support for financial services visit our website here