Mainframe Outsourcing Misconception #7: Selecting the Right Outsourcing Vendor is an Exercise in Futility

Perhaps the greatest fear expressed by business planners is that they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to identifying, vetting or selecting a mainframe outsourcing vendor.  Often, those seeking to explore the outsourcing option do not know the lay of the land in the outsourcing world.  They believe that a meticulous request for proposal, thousands of pages in length, is required to elicit proposals that contain enough differentiating information to make an informed choice between options.  And even with that information, there is always a risk of vendor misrepresentation.

To make an effective evaluation of competitive vendor offerings, it helps to have an advisor that knows the capabilities of members of the outsourcing service provider community.  At a minimum, you need to obtain enough information to establish tangible differentiators between services.  These include:

(1)        The vendor’s experience with mainframe outsourcing

(2)        The vendor’s financial viability

(3)        The vendor’s business culture

(4)        The strength and security of a vendor’s data center(s)

(5)        The number and location of the vendor’s data center(s)

(6)        The vendor’s size (revenue, staff and number of clients)

(7)        The vendor’s standard SLAs

(8)        The vendor’s support model (on-shore vs. off-shore)

(9)        The pricing structure of the arrangement

(10)      The vendor’s core competency

(11)      The vendor’s reputation

(12)      The vendor’s certifications

(13)      The vendor’s tenure

(14)      The vendor’s third party software offering

(15)      The vendor’s customer satisfaction rating

(16)      The vendor’s transition methodology and transition experience

Other factors, closely related to those listed above, include the vendor’s flexibility in providing service (can they respond quickly in emergencies and turn on a dime to meet changing business requirements).  You may also want to establish whether the vendor actually provides all services, or subs out some activities to third party providers.

In addition to these tangible considerations, you should also pay attention to some intangible factors. That will go a long way toward ensuring the solvency of the relationship over time.  Questions to ask yourself after interviewing a vendor include:

(1)        Do I trust them?

(2)        Do I feel comfortable with these people?

(3)        Are they easy to work with?

(4)        Are they responsive?

(5)        Do they have a positive attitude?

(6)        Do I have good chemistry between my staff and the vendor’s key staff?

(7)        Will this be a good cultural fit?

Selecting the right mainframe vendor doesn’t need to be a futile endeavor.  You just need to know the right questions to ask and which vendors to ask.  A trusted advisor can help.

Posted by Adrian