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Keep This in Mind When Choosing Mainframe Outsourcing

Jan 16, 2014 6:00:00 AM

by Charles Bystock

mainframe outsourcing providersNot all mainframe outsourcing providers are created equal. Perhaps that seems obvious, but it’s an important fact to keep in mind as you’re considering your options. And you do have options. Your job is to sift and sort, to find the right fit with your solution – or combination of solutions – and with your company.

You’re smart to team up with a sourcing consultant before you even begin this effort. Their in-depth knowledge of the marketplace and familiarity with individual providers can transform your selection process from overwhelming to well-defined and comfortably manageable. And that can boost your chances of success tremendously.

There are many factors you’ll want to consider.

Your goals are the #1 priority.

Achieving your long-term corporate goals depends on having the right infrastructure and service capabilities in place. What are your shorter-term implementation objectives and priorities? Mainframe outsourcing providers must be able to meet all your needs right now and also help you meet whatever comes your way in the next few years.

Along that same line, what do you want from mainframe outsourcing providers? Simple provision of a few commoditized services? Or something more – value-added consultation or even assistance with IT product development?

Unless you can clearly delineate your needs, prospective providers won’t even know themselves if they’re the right choice for you.

What are their goals?

Mainframe outsourcing providers are unique businesses in their own right, so they have their own long-term plans. But your provider’s goals must be in line with yours, because if you’re headed in different directions, today’s good fit will turn into discomfort down the road.

Are they financially stable enough to grow with you? Will they be flexible enough to keep you on the cutting edge of technology and agile in the face of uncertainty?

What does their track record look like?  

How long have they been in business? Who are their team members that will be working on your account, and what relevant experience do they bring you? Do they have a particular niche? Ask about what they’re especially good at and also what do they not do.  

Who are their key clients? Ideally, mainframe outsourcing providers should have experience working with companies and solutions like yours. You don’t want to be their guinea pig.

Do they have a reputation for offering extra services to clients without necessarily being specifically incentivized to do so? Many providers are happy to provide ongoing recommendations for improvements, either to the work they’re performing for you or for processes or applications you’ve retained internally. This isn’t required, but you should contemplate whether it’s an important decision-making factor for you.

Above all, don’t make the mistake of equating size or a big name with best fit for your company.

How do they charge?

Pricing alternatives these days are almost as diverse as mainframe outsourcing providers. You may well want a hybridized pricing structure that’s tailored specifically for you. Since cost is critical to meet your goals and you want to avoid any hidden costs, discuss pricing in detail with each of your candidates.

Do you like them?

You aren’t buying a new piece of production equipment, you’re establishing what will – hopefully – become a long-term working relationship. Smooth teamwork is fundamentally important, and a poor relationship virtually assures failure. So a personal meeting with each of your top candidates is definitely in order.

What kind of support do they guarantee?

Reliable availability and uptime are essential to ensure your company’s ability to function and maintain your superior reputation with customers. How will your candidate mainframe outsourcing providers communicate potential problems? And what’s their usual approach to both preventive and corrective action?

Mainframe outsourcing providers come with widely diverse proficiencies and working preferences. Choosing between them requires knowing what you want and identifying the provider that can help you make the most of the outsourcing solutions you plan to implement. 

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