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MSPs Meet Delivery Standards

To help management service providers (MSPs) address the need to develop trust and confidence among prospective customers, the Concord, Mass.-based MSP Association today announced that four MSPs have implemented the best practices defined in the Service Management Quality Initiative (SMQI), which the association launched in January (see MSP Association Ups Industry Standards.).

Carolyn Ruech, executive director of the MSP Association, said the four companies — Center 7, InteQ, Sevenspace/Nuclio and SiteROCK — aren't necessarily the first MSPs to meet the SMQI guidelines, but "they represent a good cross-section of the membership."

"Adoption rates [for MSPs] have been slow," Ruech told ASPnews in explaining the objectives of the SMQI. Because MSPs tended to be smaller companies it was difficult to build trust with potential customers, Ruech said. "The SMQI helps set a platform based on standards. It takes the intangibles out of service."

The initiative also helps MSPs meet a growing demand to transition IT operations into a measurable service. "The SMQI program promotes the adoption of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices as the framework for managing complex IT environments."

The ITIL is an international standard for operational best practices. Its guidelines are designed to ensure repeatable and reliable service based on ten core processes: Configuration, change and release management; availability and capacity management; incident and problem management; IT service continuity (i.e., disaster recovery); financial management; and service level management.

As part of the SMQI, the MSP Association provides a self-assessment survey, designed to help MSPs benchmark themselves against others in the industry; a catalog that defines services and levels; and service-level templates that define how to measure service and what to expect in a contract.

In addition, Ruech said, the association offers an outreach program and a buyer's guide to educate the IT industry about service providers. It also has an affiliate program and risk insurance (for MSP customers who want extra service level agreement protection).

The four MSPs implementing SMQI standards offered the following comments:

  • "Our focus on best practices espoused by ITIL has markedly improved Center 7 customer satisfaction levels. For example, by implementing ITIL's Problem Management process, we systematically assess the root cause of infrastructure issues," said Kelly Phillipps, chief technology officer at Center 7. "As a result, Center 7 has reduced customer down time by 125 percent year-over-year, eliminating approximately 30 percent of all customer-related recurring issues in the process."

  • "Being the first MSP to adopt the ITIL framework, InteQ has maintained a competitive advantage in the industry through providing consistent, reliable and high-quality services to our customers," said Yash Shah, chief technology officer and president of InteQ.

  • "We are excited to support the MSP Association in its ongoing efforts to define industry standards and best-practices," said David Trotter, vice president of Service Delivery for SevenSpace.Nuclio. "SevenSpace/Nuclio recognized early on the importance of basing our services on the ITIL framework and the increased quality of service it has enabled us to deliver our customers.

  • "Process expertise and quality commitment is critical in the age of 'selective' outsourcing. A set of standards like ITIL is of paramount importance as vendors are forced to rely on the quality of one another and their clients," says Dave Lilly, president/chief operating officer of SiteROCK.

The MSP Association was founded in June 2000 with 20 members. Ruech said the membership currently consists of 55 MSPs.


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