How a Consulting Firm Builds a Successful Managed Services Practice

By Ben Trowbridge

How a Consulting Firm Builds a Successful Managed Services Practice

Consulting firms including Big4 and Regional Accounting firms have the amazing ability to frame a problem, develop a process, gather data, and develop a fact-based solution that can be a real boost for leadership teams that need an unbiased external perspective. However, when a consulting firm is asked to build a managed services practice, the very strengths that are the pride of the firm can hold it back from being successful. The differences in Outsourcing and Consulting firm delivery models become stark. Once the client conversation has shifted to long-term outsourced services, the client is expecting to benefit from repeatable and scaled services, insight into continuous performance, and above all, a clear point of view from their managed services provider on best practice delivery.

As a Managed Services and Outsourcing Advisor, and with the experience of scaling two significant managed services businesses for EY, I believe being great at providing Managed Services industry greatness doesn’t come from simply providing solutions; it comes from understanding each client’s unique needs and delivering tailored, proactive support that exceeds expectations over an extended period. This article considers the five key components a consulting firm needs to succeed and excel in managed services.

  1. Service Level Agreements (SLAs): A top consulting firm, such as any of the Big 4, should be able to offer clients straightforward and realistic services with clear SLAs, defining the scope of services, response times, and other important metrics. The firm should ensure these SLAs are consistently met and that any deviations are addressed quickly.
  2. Technical Expertise: To be successful you need deep technical expertise. Therefore, the consulting firm should have a team of experts knowledgeable in the relevant technology areas. They should be able to understand their clients’ systems and provide proactive maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting as needed.
  3. Client Communication: Effective communication is critical in managed services, as clients need to be kept informed of the status of their systems and any issues that may arise. The consulting firm should have clear communication channels and protocols, including regular reporting and updates.
  4. Security and Compliance: Managed services often involve sensitive data, so the consulting firm should have a strong focus on data security and the necessary compliance requirements. They should also have robust security measures to protect their clients’ systems and data and ensure that all regulatory requirements are met.
  5. Scalability and Flexibility: As clients’ needs evolve and grow, the consulting firm should be prepared to scale its services accordingly. They should have a flexible approach to service delivery and be able to adapt to changing client needs. This requires a focus on agility, innovation, and continuous improvement.

In conclusion, a consulting firm that excels in the five key components of managed services outlined above can truly differentiate itself from the competition and become a trusted partner to its clients. As a Strategic Sourcing advisor, I recommend that firms assess their current capabilities and identify areas where they can improve. Whether through investing in technical expertise, enhancing communication protocols, or developing more robust security measures, there is always room for growth and improvement. Advisors can establish themselves as leaders in the managed services space and drive long-term success for themselves and their clients.

About the Author: Ben Trowbridge is an accomplished Outsourcing Consultant with extensive experience in outsourcing and managed services. As a former EY Partner and CEO of Alsbridge, he built successful practices in Transformational Outsourcing, BPO, IT Outsourcing, and Cybersecurity Managed Services. Throughout his career, Ben has advised a broad range of clients on outsourcing and global business services strategy and transactions. As the current CEO of the Outsourcing Center, he provides valuable insights and guidance to buyers and managed services executives. Contact him at [email protected].

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