Global managed services programs are a hot topic these days. In fact, there can be significant value achieved from rolling out an MSP on a global level if it’s done properly and in alignment with clear organizational goals. Making the process tricky is that there are numerous ways that ensure you are getting the most out of your global MSP program, just as there are numerous ways to make a good chocolate chip cookie. A quick Internet search will yield about millions of chocolate chip cookie recipes, and while I don’t think there are millions of ways to implement and operate an effective global MSP program, there are many. Regardless of what recipe you choose, however, there are some key ingredients that all organizations will need to ensure their global MSPs are effective.
Knowing where you want to go and how you will arrive at your destination is vital for your program. Not only is this important for your organization to understand, but it’s critical for your MSP provider to understand it as well. Having agreement on strategy up-front throughout the organization will help minimize challenges you may face operationally at a later date. Your MSP should also be able to share with you from its past experiences and add valuable insight into setting your strategy. Further, make sure that you have engaged stakeholders from all affected regions when defining and setting your strategy so that you have complete buy-in.
Garnering support and buy-in from the key stakeholders — again, from all affected regions — will help ensure that your MSP has every chance to be successful. Develop a responsible, accountable, consulted, informed (RACI) matrix for your organization and make sure that you have agreement in the early stages of your MSP. Your MSP provider should be very involved in this process and should be invited to participate in all stakeholder meetings. Your MSP provider will want to build strong relationships with the key stakeholders as well, because it will be driving the day-to-day operations of your program.
Each time you deviate from a “standard,” the complexity of your program will grow, making it continually more difficult for your MSP to manage the program effectively and provide the value you seek. Utilizing one technology platform and one standard process as much as possible will help keep the overall program on track to meet the objectives.
I also recommend establishing a center of excellence or program management office to ensure that standards are closely watched and maintained as well as to develop innovations for the program. Your MSP provider should be able to bring business insights into your program that can then be channeled through the delivery platform to bring additional value to your program.
Most organizations realize the value of standardizing and generating economies of scale. A successful global MSP will have well-defined global standards in place, but will also be flexible enough to adapt to local markets. At the same time, understanding localization requirements is important for your MSP program to function properly. Proper localization within your program will also help build stakeholder support and improve adoption for the program. Your MSP provider should also be able to provide valuable insights into localization requirements to help ensure your program is compliant in that region.
As with any major initiative in a corporation, change management is critical to overall success. Your MSP already knows this and should be working closely with you to share “lessons learned” as well as to better understand your organization’s culture to make sure that the change management strategy employed appropriately fits the environment. Some environments are more “carrot” based (please follow these new guidelines and reap the benefits) while others are “stick” based (you will follow the new rules and like it). Whatever your environment, how you handle change will directly impact the speed and ease of adoption. Ultimately, you want your MSP to be able to drive change and adoption for you, but it will take collaboration among both parties to get this process rolling.
No process or program is ever static. Markets change, companies change, people change, and there’s always room for improvement. An MSP has multiple facets and you should work closely with your MSP provider to identify areas of continuous improvement. Many organizations just allow the MSP to continue to operate “as-is” for many years, then realize one day that things are not necessarily working as they should. Utilize one of the many continuous improvement strategies to look for ways to make the program better each year.
Your MSP and your dedicated internal resources work together within the regions, but often communication doesn’t make it past the individual regions. Many good ideas that work well in one region may also work well elsewhere. Ensure the sharing of experiences by hosting quarterly user forums where a slate of topics can be discussed among key business owners and users globally. This type of forum affords an opportunity to share lessons learned and new ideas as well as seek input from others on how to address issues. This forum should be moderated and I would recommend that you have pre-determined discussion topics, but also allow for an open Q&A forum during the meeting/call. It would also be advantageous to have regular communications via email and /or have a page set up on the company’s intranet that provides useful information and updates for all users relative to the MSP and the program.
Many organizations rely on their MSP to inform them of how things are progressing with the program, but often do not take an active role in looking at the results on a deeper level. A successful MSP will not only review the metrics with you regularly, but it should also be comparing your results with expected results and/or typical market results — and making recommendations for improvements. You should also be pressing your MSP to evaluate overall outcomes with your program and how that maps against your organizational goals.
While you should have a very detailed and well thought-out contract with your MSP, at the end of the day the level of relationship you have with your MSP will make a big impact on the overall success of your program. Frequent, consistent, and open communication with your MSP provider can alleviate many of the typical ailments and challenges. It can also open the door to new opportunities and process improvements for your organization. You should think of your MSP as an extension of your organization and engage in regular communication. You may also want to consider setting up a steering committee of senior-level executives from the MSP and your organization. The steering committee should meet 2-3 times per year as well as act as a point of escalation for the organization
Be prepared to adapt to ever-changing environments as your program evolves. Even though the key factors listed above are salient to high-performing global MSPs, there are still market and organizational influences beyond your control that may require you to make adjustments and tweaks. Be sure to regularly share the metrics and results of your global MSP program and the positive impact it makes to the bottom line of the organization. This will also help to maintain a high level of stakeholder support for the program and your MSP.
Steven Scott is a contingent workforce management consultant and advisor and has more than 16 years of experience in the contingent workforce and talent management industry. Scott is a principal with Cornerstone Business Solutions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-403-5754.