Making Sure Your Service Provider Doesn't Fall Down on the Job
Forrester Research recently conducted a study on 40 top service providers,
and discovered, as TEC stated over 3 months ago, that the site builders
are rarely capable of providing all the services required for building
a site from the ground up. Researchers said the relative inexperience
of most companies involved in the site-building business accounted for
only part of their limitations. Many of their problems arose out of a
number of issues related to business processes that are essentially management
implementation procedures can go wrong and have a major impact. For example,
requesting credit card information and authorization prior to letting
the customer know how much they have put in the shopping cart drove away
most of the customers of one service provider client. By the time the
error was found and corrected, the client had lost a significant number
of customers - and had its reputation impaired. These kinds of issues
are process oriented, not technical, meaning a procedures manual for programmer
and quality control could have caught the problem. It is also something
worth documenting by the service provider for future reference.
Business Service Providers must be capable of providing not only the services,
but also the Quality of Service and Site performance. Such details may
not be available to individual implementers, but could be specified in
working documents that are part of the service provider services.
as ISO9000 has found its way into the manufacturing and some service sectors,
a proper quality control and human factors engineering process should
be part of a service provider's toolkit.
figure in this news analysis is a rough schematic of what we believe are
the basic components of an end-to-end solutions process. Each step, as
in a manufacturing process, has its own complement of skill sets and procedures.
Each box indicates some major function for which a set of procedures and/or
processes should be in place to ensure quality throughout an end-to-end
Although there is no significant market impact, per se, the quality of
service can at an individual site level be significant.
Service Providers are of course too busy to set down their procedures,
train staff and ensure quality. Users are also at fault for often demanding
very tight deadlines be met, and for not being willing to shell out for
the additional security of proper human factors analysis, and market testing
the site prior to going live.
service providers (under 500 employees) are generally the ones who would
find the heavy cost of documenting and developing processes to ensure
quality the hardest to bear. It would seem from this perspective the larger
service providers have the edge. However, this may not always be the case:
weighed against size is the fact that employee turnover rates are lower
in small companies, and their people's experience with the company methodologies
and implementation processes are better (or at least more familiar). However,
this is no guarantee.
proper internal processes exist, a service provider should be able to
develop internal standards and methods to make a site more bulletproof.
marketplace should become more aware of what services and internal processes
service providers actually have as formal procedures. Those companies
that have developed systems to document and capture experience (i.e.,
that have knowledge management systems) are likely to gain some edge.
Like ISO9000 manufactured items, each component in an implementation should
have some basic procedure outlined and be traceable to some stated practice,
despite the uniqueness of each site.
In general, the user should determine how well prepared a service provider
is to deliver a full solution. Making a check list of the steps needed
for your solution, and determining if each vendor has set, documented
procedures and processes in place to execute them, could be included as
part of a vendor selection process.
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End-to-end solutions - complete set of services from business model
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