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You can’t buy happiness, but you can and should measure it. That is particularly true when it comes to rating a cloud provider’s service.

However, user satisfaction – or happiness – isn’t a complete metric. You are entrusting a service provider with your most critical business tools, such as email, phone, file backup and sharing. If the services or support are sub-par, your business will suffer. Suppose, for example, that some, but not all email gets delivered, which can happen if a server gets blacklisted. Or what if you have a data breach? (A 2015 studyfound a one-in-four chance of a data breach over a two-year period.) For the sake of business continuity, make sure your provider has procedures in place to remedy situations like these.

Possible evaluation criteria should include cost, uptime, user surveys, security procedures and more. Each offers advantages and disadvantages. They may also conflict. A strict dollars-and-sense picture, for instance, may not account user dissatisfaction with a provider’s email service that is cheap but cumbersome—or completely unworkable. You need to think clearly about the criteria you select, because whatever yardstick you choose will impact initial vendor selection as well as subsequent reviews.

Metrics and tools to evaluate a service provider

What should a good set of evaluation metrics look like? Part of the mix should include a security assessment via a review of infrastructure, business procedures, service offerings and adherence to industry best practices. Secondly, when you look at cost, make sure the evaluation includes potential hidden expenses and comparisons between solutions.

A third set of metrics should include benefits that arise from capabilities that work together. Such synergisms and the advantages they bring should factor into measuring the suitability of a service provider.

Finally, user satisfaction has to be considered. The attitude of people toward an offering is crucial to a successful implementation.

A metric walk-through

Here are some tips on how to conduct an evaluation.

Security – If multi-tenant, assess platform security, along with physical and employee security for all configurations. Look at authentication and access methods as well as security and staff monitoring. Confirm adherence to data privacy and financial information security standards.

Cost – Look for hidden expenses like migration and downtime charges. Conduct comparisons between cloud and legacy solutions. A cloud solution can cut the cost of phones and email by anywhere from 50 to 90 percent. But, be aware that not all cloud-based solutions offer the same reliability, security or QoS.

Synergistic benefits – Include in your evaluation the advantages that arise from having a single service perform multiple functions. For instance, a file synchronization service can provide both backup and file sharing, simplifying setups and improving responsiveness.

User Satisfaction – Be sure to include measures of end user satisfaction. After installation, you can gather information about user views through questionnaires as well as with indirect means such as helpdesk statistics. Before installation, you will have to depend upon the vendor for this information.

And that brings up a final metric: Trust. Having trust in your provider is critical to long-term success. Do your research to find out how the provider’s other clients feel about the service received. As with any professional relationship, make the vendor’s history and reputation an important part of your assessment.

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