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Updated by Charles Bystock on 06/12/2014

mainframe-outsourcing-providers_(5)The secret behind choosing proper mainframe outsourcing providers is a simple three-word admonition: know thyself first.

No provider can do a superior job for you unless everyone understands up front what needs to be done. You have to look internally to establish that before you can look externally at alternatives among mainframe outsourcing providers. There are two distinct aspects of your enterprise you’ll want to examine.

What you need.

Mainframe outsourcing providers are all somewhat different. You’ll be most successful if you can identify those who are most closely aligned with your overall business goals as well as the IT solutions you’ve identified. Conducting a thorough IT assessment is the key to success here.

Assuming you know what you want in the way of services from mainframe outsourcing providers can be a mistake. You know your mainframes and the rest of your IT systems like the back of your hand, certainly. But when was the last time you really looked beyond daily operations and examined your whole IT picture in detail? Unbiased, comprehensive detail.

Conducting an assessment can uncover surprising data:

  • Costs you haven’t been including in your TCO computations.
  • Gaps in service levels or quality.
  • Redundant hardware or software applications that are costing you unnecessarily.
  • Opportunities that weren’t apparent before but which could help you capture savings or drive new revenue.

When you include all that in your needs analysis, it could lead you in an entirely different direction than you anticipated.

The decision to link up with mainframe outsourcing providers represents a multi-year commitment. And you may well want to choose more than one provider to create a customized, “distributed” solution. You can’t expect sterling results if you don’t mine your data first. An experienced IT consultant can help you conduct a high-level assessment, in a short timeframe, so you’re prepared to take the next step toward outsourcing.

Who you are.

There’s more to choosing proper mainframe outsourcing providers than pinpointing SLAs and pricing. Your retained IT staff will have to work with your provider’s personnel on an ongoing basis, and collaborative teamwork is the key to success. Finding the right fit is critical.

Consider your corporate culture. Every enterprise has a work style that permeates the organization. Some are very formal when it comes to things like communication, some are very informal and most are somewhere in between. Where does your operation fall? You want a provider whose corporate working style matches yours so you can work smoothly and efficiently.

You may also have “cultural” desires or concerns specific to your company that have to be considered when picking providers. For example, you might prefer to do business with a firm as local as possible, not offshore, to facilitate a closer working relationship and enhance your community relations as a good economic neighbor.

Personal fit is part of who you are, too, and it’s a far more important factor than you might think in choosing mainframe outsourcing providers. You’ll be happier with your choice if you like them and like working with them. In fact, the vast majority of outsourcing relationships that fail are due to incompatible personal relationships, not faulty or sub-standard service delivery.

Meet potential providers in person before you make a decision, to see that their style and approach meshes with yours. When you’re comfortable bouncing ideas off one another, etc. you’ll be able to think and plan more creatively for the future.

Now you know the secret behind choosing the proper mainframe outsourcing providers. Clearly delineating what you need will ensure you get the right “stuff.” And clearly identifying who you are as an organization will ensure you get the right people.