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MSP Association Ups Industry Standards

The Management Service Provider (MSP) Association, the international consortium of companies collaborating to define, shape and promote the emerging MSP market, today announced it has launched a new program designed to create standards of excellence in the delivery of IT services via the Internet.

According to Linda Shannon-Hills, chair of the MSP Association and Worldwide Service Provider Partner Program Manager for HP OpenView in Portland, Oregon, the Service Management Quality Initiative (SMQI) will aim to help improve the quality in Internet service delivery by developing minimum standards for business processes and benchmarks for customer service level expectations.

She explains that developing those standards will involve promotion and adoption of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which provides a structured framework to for managing IT environments and is used globally by hundreds of organizations.

"As the service provider market has evolved over the last year we've become very aware of some of the obstacles to customer adoption," she says.

"One of the first things we recognized the MSP Association had to do was to promote a level of standardization and help to drive industry best practices. That's what we're doing with the Service Management Quality Initiative."

Analysts have remarked on the need for programs that help customers better compare the offerings and processes among the various types of service providers.

"We continually see service providers deliver great cost reduction and efficiency for their clients through the standardized and optimized processes they utilize. However, these processes have been difficult for companies to evaluate because the service provider segment lacks clear benchmarks for processes," says Corey Ferengul, Senior Program Director, The META Group.

"ITIL is one useful tool for companies in creating those standardized processes. But it's also necessary to have baselines and standards that are directly focused on the service provider segment," he continues.

Key components to the SMQI will include:

  • A self-assessment survey to help providers gauge their adherence to best practices

  • Training guidelines and workshops for MSP Association members

  • Templates for the creation of service level agreements (SLAs)

  • Templates for implementing ITIL standards for service providers

  • Quality of Service (QoS) modeling

Shannon-Hills explains that the first step was to form an SMQI Council to draw on the expertise of both members and affiliates that specialize in IT service management.

Members of the SMQI Council include BMC Software; Compaq, Hewlett-Packard; InteQ; the IT Service Management Institute (ITSMI); SiteRock; and Totality.

"Ultimately, the SMQI will result in certification for service providers that will help customers gain greater confidence in the field of selected IT outsourcing," she concludes.