When planning an out-of-town vacation, do you diligently ensure that you have someone lined up to water your plants, feed your goldfish, and keep an eye on your home? What about your Hyperion environment? Do you hire a managed services provider to take care of your systems and watch over your applications while you are away? Who keeps the lights on?
Below are a couple vacation scenarios with my two cents worth of advice:
Scenario 1: I’m the Hyperion admin and I NEED this vacation! (or any other type of absence).
Advice: Partner with a managed services provider who has a strong Oracle EPM practice as well as a history of product, application, and infrastructure support. In fact, do it now. Agile providers can offer a variety of low cost services to support you while you are working and can scale their support when the time comes for you to take a break. The existence of a successful Oracle EPM practice ensures the provider will have the skills available that are necessary to support you for unexpected events but also to provide a surge in staff when you finally decide to disconnect.
Scenario 2: I’m a Systems Admin and I’m the one the Hyperion Administrator calls when something is not working. My boss might let me take vacation if I complain to HR.
Advice: Seek out a managed services provider who can not only be that lifeline when something breaks but can also work on your behalf during your vacation to establish a more proactive approach to monitoring your systems. This can be a long term engagement where the provider performs the monitoring or a very short project before you leave to coach you in best practices for monitoring. While you are away, you will know that your systems are being handled by skilled sys admins who want your functional counterpart to be successful too.
Explore key considerations, integrating the cloud with legacy applications and challenges of current cloud implementations.
There are a number of things to consider when hiring a managed service provider to support you and your system. Here’s some advice.
What’s included? If you have to pay a monthly fee, there should be something in return, like guaranteed service levels or a block of support/consulting hours.
Ask the candidate about service levels. Managed services providers offer a variety of service level agreements to customers. Here are some of the more common service levels offered in this industry.
- Response Time is the maximum elapsed time before a viable response is provided. Key word here is VIABLE. An automated email reply is NOT a viable response – it’s lazy. A call back with an answer or a request for a specific screenshot, log file, or a web based screen sharing session are viable.
- Work (or Resolution) Plan Time is the maximum amount of time that will elapse before a resolution or work plan is provided. Keep in mind that many fire-fighting events (break-fix) would skip this step and move right into troubleshooting and remediation. Work plans may vary widely in detail. Remember, someone is getting paid to put a plan together. Expect costs to be higher for detailed work plans that include requirements.
- Work Commencement Time is the maximum amount of time that will elapse before work will start. This service level is typically encountered for work requested that has a healthy duration such as the development of complex business logic or reports.
Ask questions about the tools that the candidate will expect to use in your on-premises environments. Many organizations are particularly sensitive about vendors using any tools that may facilitate remote access to systems without regard to corporate VPN systems. We use tools so we can be more agile, keep our labor costs down, and help us keep our finger on the pulse of your systems. Most remote management and monitoring (RMM) tools are quite robust and secure. Ask how the tools are secured and how they will document system access and changes.
Accountability is important too. Ask the candidate how they account for billable time. How much visibility will you have of time entries? What happens when the vendor exceeds estimates? How are resolutions for incidents documented?
Crowded overseas call centers tend to frustrate those in need of help. Ask the prospect about their call centers. You should know if the first line of support is going to be qualified to address most of your issues. Ask them how their support is tiered. Busy organizations follow a multi-tiered support model which typically reduces response times, however, the first tier may be nothing more than someone to document additional details about your issue.
Onboarding is the process of analyzing and documenting current system state which is also the time a vendor will install tools for monitoring and remote management of systems. Ask the vendor about their onboarding process. Don’t forget to ask about price. Don’t let yourself be surprised to see a billable line item for onboarding or installation from some vendors when your contract arrives.
What about off-boarding? Yes, that’s a technical term. Removing their tools will be easy. Ask if they have a graceful process for facilitating knowledge transfer to you and your team when they pull out.
Yes, this is a lot to consider when choosing a managed services partner. You do want to relax during your time away from the office right?