The IT outsourcing industry is littered with jargon, contrived acronyms, and tech-speak; language that is only understood by those who work within it or employed to supply it. Simplified language improves the relationship between outsourcer and client, and help businesses make a more informed choice when selecting a services provider that meets their business needs.

The industry is increasingly isolating itself by choosing to use language that most people, including non-technical executives often responsible for making the purchasing decisions, do not understand. And how many business opportunities are being wasted as a result?

In a bid to help those looking to make the most of IT outsourcing, but are often met with a torrent of tech-spiel, here is a brief guide to help you wade through some of the jargon IT managed services providers fall back on to sell you their wares:

Our managed services fee covers everything required to deliver your service:
What sounds like an attractive proposition could be misleading. Be sure to establish what the fee does not cover, because additional consultancy fees and high individual project costs could generate an expense you haven't budgeted for.

We are a financially secure managed services provider:
A provider's financial position should reflect business focus. For a managed services provider, expect business contract revenue to be increasing, as this is what delivers business security.

If business contract revenue is decreasing, service levels may also be going south. Also beware of companies trying to demonstrate success with tales of huge revenue growth. Gross profit and growing contract values are a better indicator of a services-based business. If you are reassured by scale and large figures, dig a bit deeper and focus on gross profit and contracted revenue rather than turnover.

We will provide you with a fully managed IT service:
Can a service provider deliver what they promise from their own premises or are they sub-outsourcing larger parts of your service to a third party?

You wouldn't expect the service you've outsourced to then be outsourced again to a company you have no prior history with, but this practice has become commonplace. If your service is being provided from in-house resource then you need to establish the size of the team and whether they can continue to deliver high levels of service to you if they suddenly win three new clients in the same week.

We have fully accredited technical staff capable of supporting your business requirements:
Make sure your business is not over dependent on a single technical specialist employed by the service provider. A service provider that is truly capable of servicing your account will make sure a whole team of people are familiar with your business needs.

Our delivery capabilities are unparalleled:
Assess what the sales team is offering against what the technical team can actually deliver. Whilst the sales team will undoubtedly make a strong case for choosing the service they are pitching, you need to be clear on what the provider can actually deliver and gain a thorough understanding of their operational structure.

A first-class IT services provider will be realistic adapt their services to the client's needs. All too often, service providers tend to fit the client's needs around what they can offer. To cover this up, providers often employ jargon and acronyms in the hope that this is enough to win the business.

It is not. And in an economic climate where cash is king and the need for ROI is greater than ever, cutting through the language will help ensure that you make the right choice for your business.

Ash Patel is managed services director at ADA Technology Services

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