How to make an offer
|It is fundamental to explain what features you offer at what price. The offer starts with an overall plan for the managed services business, the basic value proposition and the relevant technology to support. How you define the support you offer in your offer is a key element of your business success. In the managed services industry, the beginning of this process is to outline the offer in line with ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) If you are not familiar with ITIL, it is essentially a set of definitions for managing IT infrastructure. It was created in the UK and is the de facto standard and common language for managed services. Many customers and most IT providers are familiar with ITIL and use it, at least in part, to run their IT infrastructures. It is easy to find flaws in the way a function is defined in ITIL, but it is not considered worth the effort to find those flaws. Given the wide acceptance of ITIL, the internal and external benefits of using ITIL outweigh the imperfections in the definition. Certainly, there will be times when you may have resisted using ITIL in its entirety, but in the end, you will find that you were wrong. A standard offer or a custom client Statement of Work should be structured along ITIL lines. The important communication between offer management and delivery about what is offered and what is not offered is greatly facilitated by this common language. Defining your offer is a key component of exactly how your managed services business operates. A clearly defined offer should be at the heart of how you bring efficiency and value to your business. There is no need to be overly prescriptive about how best to define the offer.|
Each provider’s offer will vary greatly depending on the part of IT you are managing and the market you are targeting. Of course, the most typical way to structure a managed services offer is in a Bronze, Silver and Gold format, which is what most providers use. In other words, a hierarchy is built up between the plans, with Silver at the top of Bronze, Gold at the top of Silver and so on. Of course, if you can think of a better name than the one we have just introduced, you should use it. Also, there is no magic to which features you place where. It’s worth thinking about how you structure your offer so that customers don’t automatically choose the cheapest option. In some cases, it’s better to structure your offer in such a way that customers don’t automatically choose the lowest-priced option in a Gold, Silver or Bronze format.
For example, the Light and Express options. The structure of your offer should be based on the value you offer, and you need to differentiate that value between the offers. As you move up the stack, eventually the breakpoints between the different levels of service you offer will create the ability for customers to integrate the delivery of specific tasks into their operations. These offerings, and the ITIL-based categories underneath them, should form the basis of how your organisation operates. They should also influence the way services are delivered and how revenues and costs are tracked. In addition, each managed services company must decide on Service Level Agreements (SLAs). They need to consider whether they will include SLAs in their contracts with customers, whether they will provide financial remedies, and what SLAs they will have as part of their standard offer.
The key is to develop a strategy around SLAs and how to deal with them as a business. it is important to have a small centre of excellence in the delivery department that is responsible for defining and managing SLAs. However, this can be a single person. Large deals invariably have SLA issues, which can extend the sales cycle. It is believed that you should be proactive in suggesting SLAs and, especially on large deals, in suggesting ways to improve them. Another key point in large deals is to ensure that you have a baseline of the customer environment against the SLA. You need to make sure that you can meet that SLA, and if you can’t, you need to put in place a plan to meet it or include appropriate wording in the contract.