August 18, 2016

How to Set Expectations with Your Cloud Service Provider

You’ve decided to work with a cloud service provider— great, right? But now what? Many organizations think that just because they’ve outsourced their IT, that they’ve also outsourced the management of their IT. In a sense you have because your cloud provider will make sure everything’s up and running, but you should be a part of the process and provide strategic vision for your company’s IT.
It’s the same for when you go to the doctor when you’re sick. Although the doctor will assess your illness and provide recommendations on how to get better, you’re still a part of the process. You are the one that has to take the pills, follow the doctor’s orders and determine if the recovery plan is working for you or if you need to try something new.

When working with a cloud service provider it’s better to set expectations from the beginning so you know what to expect. Here are a few things you can do to better understand the type of service and support you’ll be getting with your vendor:

  • Read the Contract: The first thing you should do is read the contract (hopefully you read it before you signed it). It’s important to fully understand the contact and what it all means. Read the service-level agreement (SLA) – SLA’s document what services your provider will deliver and defines the performance standards the provider is obligated to meet, as well as the disclaimers. If you have questions about the contract, make sure you ask your vendor so you know the ins and outs of what you’re signing.
  • Set Expectations- What to Ask: Unsure of what to ask your cloud service provider? Here are some questions you may consider asking your provider prior to signing the contract- or now if you haven’t set expectations.
    • What should I expect from you?
    • What’s realistic and what’s unrealistic?
    • Are you going to contact me when there’s a problem?
    • How are you going to reach out? By email or phone?
    • If I call at 3:00 a.m., will I get a person or an automated message?
    • If I send in a ticket, how long until I hear from someone?
    • What should I expect in terms of response speed, performance, data retention?
    • If your system goes down, how long before the backup data center comes up?
    • What’s the backup plan?
      These are the types of questions that will help to ensure you receive the level of service and support you want and need.
  • Communicate: At the start of your program you should be assigned an account manager. Take advantage of their help! The account manager is there to listen, take your feedback and make changes in the interest of you- the client. It’s important for you to push your vendor and ask for new solutions and products that will help you meet any new challenges that you’ll face as your business grows. I recommend scheduling monthly, ongoing calls with your cloud service provider, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. It’s a great way to understand what changes are coming and allows you time to give feedback so together you can improve the level of service.
  • Review & Reestablish: It’s good to go back to review the service you’ve received. Set reviews with your account manager quarterly, biannually or even annually. This is another way that you can make sure you’re both on the same page, set new expectations and ensure you have the best IT solution in place.
These are just a few tips to help you establish the type of working, ongoing relationship with your cloud provider that your company needs. Technology is rapidly changing and setting expectations will enable you to be ahead of those changes, make informed decisions, and allow your IT infrastructure to adapt and grow with your company.

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