What Should I Look for in a Managed Services Partner?

Every business would ideally like to improve operations and cut expenses. As the various necessary realms of business operation become more complicated, managing mainline functions such as human resources and technology in-house is becoming cumbersome and expensive. There are so many facets to these fields that it’s hard for a small team to be diverse enough to master the required skills and knowledge to handle such vital jobs adequately. That’s why many businesses are turning to outsourced partners, especially when it comes to managed services.

Unfortunately, many companies are using “managed services” as a marketing tool when they only offer basic, flat rate packages that won’t apply well to most enterprise needs. Their technical people may or may not even be proficient in the specific areas your business needs help with.

TSP’s goal from the beginning has been to create and run a company that thinks and works differently. We’re about serving every customer’s specific needs and treating every client as an individual. Our commitment to developing real relationships with both employees and clients has led to our success over the years, and when we work with a client, our employees become part of their culture, too.

“Managed services” has become such a diluted buzzword that it almost requires definition again. Managed services is not staffing and to some companies it can mean just about anything. At TSP, managed services is providing the right resources when and where needed. We bring to the market expertise in system administration in Windows, Unix, and Linux; critical system, application, and tool monitoring; help desk operation; PC deployment services and support; managed print services; warranty support; WAN and LAN monitoring; network field services; and cable and fiber management. In other words, TSP provides comprehensive help for enterprise needs, not just one or two add-ons to another tech package.

If your business is looking for a managed services partner, don’t go with a business that doesn’t specialize in enterprise solutions. Look for a partner who can do a comprehensive diagnosis of your company’s needs, forecast issues before they become problems, and address those issues without delay. The right long-term relationship with a vendor who is consistent, efficient, and makes the extra effort to employ the best people will meet your business’s needs now and for years to come.

 

Five Ways to Improve Communication

So many problems in the world have roots in simple miscommunication. Failing to get a message across clearly can cause delays, wasted time, frustration, even tension. Great communicators tend to do better at work and feel happier in life because they know how to get their ideas across, but learning to communicate well requires discipline and lots of practice.

Ask more questions.
People often don’t ask enough questions because they assume they already know the answers or are afraid of looking like they don’t know the answers. However, asking questions makes people seem more engaged, not less intelligent. When you ask questions, it proves you’re listening and illustrates an eagerness to be proactive and seek clarification. It’s better to ask now than apologize later because you assumed something incorrectly.

Zap empty words.
Like, um, you know how it can be totally, uh, frustrating… When someone uses more airtime on filler words than anything else? Empty conversation additives are often leaned on because people feel uncomfortable or don’t know what to say, but when overused, these bubble words make listeners assume people don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. Make an effort to speak with more purpose and get rid of the filler words. Try speaking more slowly or doing a short practice of what you want to say in your mind or a mirror before opening up.

Pay attention to body language.
Body language speaks volumes about our attitude and feelings, sometimes even more than our words do. It’s hard to analyze your own body language, so start by paying attention to the visual cues others send. Do the people you meet look bored, happy, harassed or interested? Once you’ve started training your brain to actively spot and read visual cues, have a friend try to read yours. It’s easier to see what you’re doing when someone you trust is helping out.

Become a better listener.
Communication isn’t about holding the loudest microphone. The people we respect most aren’t those who talk nonstop, but those amazing listeners whose responses prove they’re tuned in. It’s easy to become distracted with the phone, computer, ambient noise, thoughts about your itchy left foot, or worst of all missing what someone is saying because you’re too busy figuring out what to say next. If you become a better listener, you will be a better communicator.

Be bold.
To get your ideas across, bravery is a must. There is always some risk in bringing up an idea or voicing an opinion, but speaking up at the right time will make an impression. Wallflowers don’t often make waves, but sometimes voicing your thoughts is important. If you are presented with an appropriate time and place to respectfully share an idea, go for it. Positive progress is only made when people have the strength to speak up.

 

Middle Market Executive Interviews Rick Skaggs

middlemarketexecutive logoPresident and co-founder of TSP (Technology Service Professionals), Rick Skaggs, was recently interviewed by Jack Sweeney of Middle Market Executive for the Middle Market Thought Leader podcast series.  Skaggs shares his mindset and expectations for TSP.

New Contracts Total $1 Million in Annualized Revenue Announced on “Big Win Monday”

DALLAS TSP (Technology Service Professionals), a leading provider of information technology services to Fortune 500 companies, has announced multiple new contracts in all three of its growing business units, enterprise solutions, industrial automation solutions and shared solutions. In total the announcements reflect over $1 million in annualized revenue.

TSP conducts a “gong ringing” at corporate headquarters to celebrate new deals and expanded contracts as a team. Recent wins include:

  • Secured custom maintenance services contract in St. Louis, Missouri, adding yet another NFL city to TSP’s customer sites
  • Converted an existing satisfied customer’s contract from 20 hours per week into to a full-time residency in Fitchburg, Massachusetts
  • Signed a new industrial automation solutions customer in Mosinee, Wisconsin, where TSP will be providing two resources for maintenance services
  • Obtained a new consulting services residency contract in San Jose, California
  • Grew enterprise solutions customer by adding two new resources to existing consulting services support model in Dallas, Texas
  • Added two additional operations support analysts to an existing managed services contract in Santa Clara, California
  • Signed new managed services contract and added one customer relationship manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

“Our emerging business and account management teams have been diligently working to provide both organic and new business growth. Their dedication, not only to TSP, but also to our customers, becomes more and more evident as we continue to announce our new contracts. We listen to what our customers need and directly respond to their pain points with a custom solution, allowing customers to focus on their business objectives,” said Rick Skaggs, co-founder and president of TSP.

About TSP
TSP is a privately held information technology services company founded in 2002 by Rick Skaggs and Frank Gonzalez. The business provides top-tier services in enterprise solutions, shared solutions, and industrial automation. The Certified Minority Owned Business has more than 550 employees, and its service area includes more than 30 U.S. states as well as Canada. The company’s client portfolio includes Texas Instruments, International Paper, Hewlett-Packard, Goodyear, Georgia-Pacific, Dell, Raytheon, 3M, Hitachi, NetApp, Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Neiman Marcus. To learn more, visit http://mytsp.net.

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The Value of Corporate Boot Camp

Sometimes companies hit the jackpot when it comes to finding employees with an incredible knowledge base who naturally fall into a synchronized rhythm that’s so connected, it’s like magic. Most of the time, though, a company whose employees function well as a team has a secret sauce that allows people to deliver that level of service that impresses customers time and time again.

Plenty of businesses work on regular training and continuing education courses, and so does TSP. However, TSP takes education one step further with something we like to call Boot Camp.

Boot Camp is a series of courses we handcrafted on our own, and many new employees go through Boot Camp whether they’re recent graduates, military veterans, or seasoned engineers with years of field experience. Boot Camp ensures that everyone has the same level of technical training, but it’s also a series of workshops on customer service.

TSP always hires the most qualified people, but we don’t limit our applicant pool to people with “X” years of experience. We also like to hire people just out of college with computer science or technical degrees as well as people with military backgrounds. In our opinion, anyone with technical talent can learn the physical tech of daily operations and fixes, and our engineers are always there to help one another pick up new tricks and skills so the entire team succeeds.

Boot Camp gets everyone on the same page in terms of nuts and bolts with a week of theory and technology training, but we also devote plenty of time to the vital soft skills that will make or break a customer relationship. After a week of TSP Boot Camp, engineers head to the field to work side by side with a TSP senior engineer and mentor. They shadow until they’re comfortable, then work on their own with their mentor keeping an eye on them and ready to help with any issues. After that, new employees come back to headquarters for yet another week of Boot Camp that focuses on customer service training and soft skills.

Another value-add of TSP Boot Camp is the camaraderie built among our engineers – creating an instrumental, long-term peer network. It would be more cost-effective and entirely possible to conduct the Boot Camp virtually, but the face-to-face bonding is priceless. These connections prove integral for our engineers, who post Boot Camp, enjoy a network of resources they can call on when they run into things in the field they have never seen before. As we mentioned in a recent press release, our Boot Camp grads have even referred each other for open positions, creating a culture of mutual respect and support. As the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and as a supportive group of Boot Camp grads, our engineers are better positioned to serve our customers.

Being a successful service engineer in any tech business isn’t just about how well you know the ins and outs of the software and hardware, it’s about whether you know how to be kind to people and solve problems for them. Technical skills are vital, but so are the interpersonal skills that can dramatically affect the customer’s perspective of how well an issue is handled.

Training new employees is one thing, but TSP is proud to take our onboarding process to the next level with Boot Camp, which also helps new employees bond with one another, get to know senior engineer mentors, and introduce themselves to the clients without the pressure of feeling that an account’s success rests entirely on them. Boot Camp is a big part of what makes TSP unique and sets every engineer up to succeed, and it’s kept our company culture strong from the very beginning.

TSProckstars and Their Families Hit a Homerun with Employee Event and Enjoy Frisco RoughRiders Baseball Game

DALLAS TSP (Technology Service Professionals), a leading provider of information technology services to Fortune 500 companies, recently hosted a fun company event, joining #TSProckstars together with their families at a Frisco RoughRiders minor league baseball game.

“At TSP we’re all about working hard to deliver the best to our customers, but we also like to have fun together. We actively work to maintain our strong company culture. We understand that our employees are our best asset, and we’re constantly thinking of fun events we can enjoy together as a united company, especially those that support our local community and involve our families,” said Rick Skaggs, co-founder of TSP.

TSP reserved a special area, the Diamond Deck, for employees, and enjoyed the game as a company. Employees’ family members were also invited to join in on the fun. TSP vice president and co-founder, Frank Gonzalez, thanked employees for their shared commitment to TSP and its customers, while TSP chief financial officer, Keith McElwain, led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to TSP’s president and co-founder, Rick Skaggs.

The Frisco RoughRiders are the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers and play their games at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas.

About TSP
TSP is a privately held information technology services company founded in 2002 by Rick Skaggs and Frank Gonzalez. The business provides top-tier services in enterprise solutions, shared solutions, and industrial automation. The Certified Minority Owned Business has more than 550 employees, and its service area includes more than 30 U.S. states as well as Canada. The company’s client portfolio includes Texas Instruments, International Paper, Hewlett-Packard, Goodyear, Georgia-Pacific, Dell, Raytheon, 3M, Hitachi, NetApp, Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Neiman Marcus. To learn more, visit http://mytsp.net.

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TSP Preventive Maintenance Highlighted in July/August Issue of Paper 360°

Paper360cover_julaugTSP (Technology Service Professionals) has rolled out its Preventive Maintenance System, creating a streamlined approach to preventive maintenance and incorporating an element of accountability. Paper 360° featured the system in a maintenance showcase in their July/August issue.

Internal Referral and Emphasis on Strong Culture Lead to Three New Deals for Shared Solutions

DALLAS TSP (Technology Service Professionals), a leading provider of information technology services to Fortune 500 companies, announces three new contracts in its shared solutions business unit. The contracts, which began this week, place more TSP employees onsite for TSP’s client, NetApp.

TSP’s shared solutions business unit partners with clients using best practices, creating custom solutions for clients that allow them to focus on their core business objectives. Steve Carey and Chris Torbert, #TSProckstars and account executives, brought the new deals to fruition.

TSP has been working with NetApp on their initiative to bring a managed services program to the US (it has been done in Asia Pacific previously). NetApp hand-selected a TSP employee to fulfill the first managed services opportunity. That employee recommended another TSP employee with whom he completed TSP Boot Camp four years earlier. After interviewing the referred candidate, the customer agreed that he was a fit, and put him in the second position, leading to a new contract.

“It’s tremendous that NetApp kicked-off their managed services in the US with two of our employees. Having gone through TSP Boot Camp myself, it’s always great to hear when TSP trainees stay in touch and look out for one another – it certainly falls in line with our company culture,” said Torbert.

In the second deal, TSP competed with other companies to place an employee at the customer site. “We faced the challenge of selling a talented individual on the TSP team. Ultimately, he sensed the access to leadership and emphasis on long-term career development that TSP offers its employees and went with us, securing the deal,” said Carey. “TSP is a family-oriented, supportive company where individuals can grow. If, and when, an original contract expires, we almost always find new roles for talented individuals so they can stay with TSP. Even with referrals from our customers, we always interview all candidates to make sure they are a fit for the culture of both the customer and TSP.”

Rounding out TSP’s three new contracts, 1,000 NetApp systems in the Boston, Massachusetts area will now be under a new TSP contract. TSP will start this new location by relocating an existing TSP employee from Dallas, Texas and hiring a new resource in the Boston area to round out the support team. “This deal marks our continued impressive geographical growth – NFL cities are a great place for us to be,” said Torbert.

“One of our recent TSP Boot Camp graduates will serve as the lead engineer at this site – it’s a testament to the success of our training program. In just a few months, we can hire a new employee, teach him a valuable skillset, and give him an opportunity to lead a new support contract for TSP. I couldn’t be more proud of my team,“ said Russ Qualls, director of operations, shared solutions, TSP.

About TSP
TSP is a privately held information technology services company founded in 2002 by Rick Skaggs and Frank Gonzalez. The business provides top-tier services in enterprise solutions, shared solutions, and industrial automation. The Certified Minority Owned Business has more than 550 employees, and its service area includes more than 30 U.S. states as well as Canada. The company’s client portfolio includes Texas Instruments, International Paper, Hewlett-Packard, Goodyear, Georgia-Pacific, Dell, Raytheon, 3M, Hitachi, NetApp, Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Neiman Marcus. To learn more, visit http://mytsp.net.

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How to Get a Sense of Company Culture in the Interview

Company culture is a key component to how happy people are in their jobs. “Company culture” is a phrase that’s thrown around so often it can feel like a cliché, but in reality, company culture just means whether we like the people we work with. Daily tasks in a job are one thing, but if you actually enjoy the people you’re working with and for, you’re going to enjoy coming to work, too.

Interviewing for a job is stressful, and most people fail to get a feel for the culture in that narrow window. Most candidates are so busy thinking about salary, growth potential, and whether they might have something in their teeth that they don’t evaluate one of the biggest factors in their future happiness at a company: Culture!

Human resources articles and blogs are always discussing the importance of finding the right candidates and creating a great culture, but as job seekers, spotting the traits of a solid culture is difficult. These tips may help you figure out if a business is a great place or a disaster waiting to happen.

Use the wait time to do some recon.
Chances are that you’ll have some time to wait before the interview, whether that’s in a lobby, office, or conference room. Instead of tapping your foot nervously, use the time to look around and get a sense of the company. What does the space feel like? If it’s comfortable and clean, that’s a good sign. Decorating taste aside, the way a space feels says a lot about how much the people who work there care about their jobs.

Hit the restroom.
If the interview goes well, ask to use the restroom on the way out. If there are paper towels on the floor and it’s dirty, that’s a sign employees may have given up. Plus, the restroom is a good place to see the people you might be working with. You may overhear conversations that give huge clues about the culture, and you might even be able to say hi while washing your hands or getting a drink at the water fountain. If people are friendly, that’s a great sign. If they look like zombies who keep checking their watches to see if it’s 5:00 yet…not good.

Do some social media research.
Logging onto Facebook and Twitter may seem counterproductive to a job search, but social media outlets can show outsiders another side of the company. Does the business have a social presence, and if so, what impression do you get from their posts? Social media can be a great way to research a company’s vibe. Our #TSProckstars hashtag gives potential employees a good idea of TSP.

Ask for examples of perks.
Lots of companies like to talk big about benefits, but the details are vague until after you sign up and find out that the “wellness perk” is just a $5 discount at the gym. When the interviewer describes the upsides of the company, ask for specifics. For example, if they say employees are up for promotion after a year, ask for an example of someone who started your same career path and has been promoted. Getting a clearer outline of the upsides will help you find out if a company’s culture is hot air or the real deal.

How Well Does your Service Provider Know Your Business?

By:  Steven Conour, Senior Systems Specialist

We hear this from our clients a lot: “You know our business better than we do!”

As businesses grow and more labor capacity is required, companies have to make lots of tough decisions. Should the business hire the current site technicians, find new technicians with previous experience, or bring in fresh faces and train them from the ground up?

Every choice comes with a cost to the company culture, human energy devoted to training, and the bottom line. Experience comes at a premium, and new hires have costs associated with training and learning curves—plus, the always-possible “tenacity factor” that makes some newbies want to overhaul every system and start from scratch.

Experience, however, also has a hidden cost of its own. Oftentimes, we witness a phenomenon known as “OEM myopia,” or when an OEM engineer has tunnel vision. They’re so focused on the OEM products that they are unaware of aftermarket improvements or other vendors’ superior products. Their previous employer trained them well, but perhaps a little too well, as they come to their next company with a well nurtured, one-way solution mindset.

Those afflicted with OEM myopia haven’t been empowered to solve problems creatively and poke around for a better way of doing things. The problem with tunnel vision is that it can leave you blind to other problems you’re capable of solving, and when you only focus on one narrow objective, you can’t get to know the customer well enough to serve them completely.

TSP’s service capabilities include a variety of hardware knowledge, and some of us even like to get our hands dirty on the software side of things. Our well rounded team is encouraged to find better ways of doing things so the customer experiences service isn’t just as good as promised, it’s stellar to the point of being memorable.

TSP’s hands-on, customized approach to problem solving has made us an industry leader, but it has also caused quite a bit of discomfort for some dedicated OEMs. We’ll work on anything that needs it, and we do a great job. That attitude has expanded our business at multiple customer sites that are delighted to have a trusted partner willing to solve problems. Finding opportunities to solve issues leads to more work, but that also translates to better job security, the potential for a bonus, and a stronger workforce who loves what we do and functions as a true team.

We say, forget tunnel vision. Why be limited to one problem when it’s so much more fun to make everything work better together?