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Mainframe Outsourcing Providers: How to Choose the Best Fit

Feb 4, 2014 6:00:00 AM

by Charles Bystock

mainframe outsourcing providers (3)“Fit” can mean can have several meanings. Robust. Match. Appropriate. Prepared. When you’re investigating mainframe outsourcing providers, your goal should be to find one that meets every one of those definitions. That’s not an easy task.

Why do we care about fit?

Think about custom-tailored clothing. There’s nothing better, because it’s measured and made just for you. The sleeves, shoulders, waist and pant length. The little extras, such as hand-stitching or cuffs just the right depth. When you’re wearing a custom-tailored suit, you feel great and you know you look sharp – ready to do your best work.

The best fit in mainframe outsourcing providers enables your enterprise to perform better, too. There are certain factors you can examine that will help you ascertain which vendors are top candidates to provide your mainframe services. Each of these factors represents a different type of fit.

People.

Mainframes are part of your company’s infrastructure, but you’re hiring people to accomplish your work goals. Should you automatically gravitate to one of the big names in IT outsourcing? There’s an inherent stability in size and demonstrated longevity, and confidence is critical for success.

Or should you focus on firms that are smaller or new on the scene? They’re often more agile, and many have highly-targeted niche offerings that could be exactly what you want and need. But will they be around for the long haul?

That specific expertise is crucial – they have to be able to perform whatever work you have in mind, efficiently and cost-effectively. But when outsourcing relationships fail, it’s most always due to incompatible personal relationships. So once you’ve identified mainframe outsourcing providers who fit your solution functionally, you’ll want to carefully consider who will be doing the work.

Personal interviews are essential to suss out working style and personalities you think you’ll like – and like working with long term.

Pricing.

You may be moving to outsourcing as a way to reduce operational and capital costs, or perhaps you’re most interested in simply making the most of current spending levels. But money matters for every enterprise, regardless of global size, complexity or industry. Money saved can fund new initiatives, research and development, expanded marketing.

Pricing is an area in which outsourcing has changed radically in recent years. Pay-as-you-go defined the marketplace for decades, but now you have broader options. That means you can look for the best price, but for “best fit” you may also want to identify which pricing model provides the broadest benefits for your company, both in the near term and down the road. You can pull what you want from different models to create your own structure

Because pricing is inextricably connected to contract negotiation and the SLAs and metrics that determine ongoing performance, this is a particularly good opportunity to get help from a professional mainframe outsourcing consultant. The devil is in the details, as they say.

Approach.

Along with personal working style, you want to assess mainframe outsourcing providers based on how they perform their work overall. How will they work with you on big-picture governance issues? How do they usually handle communication – something that’s important for your day-to-day peace of mind but critical in the case of a service failure, small or large.

Of course you want a provider with a tip-top track record when it comes to availability and reliability, but what about support? No one is perfect, and how they handle the negatives tells you a great deal about prospective providers.

Potential.

At the very least, you’re looking at an outsourcing contract that stretches over two or three years. And ideally, you want to pick a vendor with whom you can develop a long-term relationship. You can’t predict the future, but you can try to get a feel for where you think various mainframe outsourcing providers are headed. Pick one that’s going your way. 

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