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MSP Trade Group Ceases Operations
By Dan Muse

January 2, 2003

Citing a lack of the resources needed to execute projects, the Strategic Sourcing Advisory Council (SSAC) announced Tuesday that it will cease operations.

The announcement comes just three months after the Concord, Mass.-based trade association changed its name from the MSP Association in a move designed to allow it to broaden its focus to include applications, applications management, security, storage, consulting and other services (see MSP Association Changes Name).

While a lack of money was a part of the troubling equation, Carolyn Holden, SSAC’s executive director, told ASPnews that “financial resources were not the back-breaker.” A shortage of personnel resources from member companies were the larger problem.

Given the tough economy, member companies has nothing extra to offer to help run SSAC programs, Holden said. “Everyone’s heart was in it, but it was hard to get them rallied and to assign anyone. We were dealing with customer-facing people.”

Over the last year the association has been pushing to establish standards for managed services. For example, the service management quality initiative (SMQI) is based on promoting the adoption of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which provides a structured framework to for managing IT environments. Running the programs was resource-intensive. “We required people with ITIL expertise,” Holden told ASPnews.

SSAC’s board of directors will re-evaluate its decision in March to see if member companies are able to free up resources. “Last year, right after the new year, we saw resources become available.”

However, the group isn’t waiting until then to plan its transition. SSAC is working with the MSP Alliance to “grandfather its members and merge its best practices programs,” Holden told ASPnews.

Unlike the MSP Association, which is a traditional trade group chartered to serve the industry as a single entity, the MSP Alliance works with individual MSPs to produce tangible business results. The MSP Alliance charges for its services.

“We are ready to carry the torch,” Karissa Weaver, vice president of the MSP Alliance, told ASPnews.

Weaver isn’t concerned about the lack of resources that forced SSAC to close its doors. “The biggest difference is that SSAC was a nonprofit. We don’t have to rely on volunteers.”

Merging the SMQI and the ITIL programs will change the shape of the MSP Alliance. “We will have to change somewhat. We’ll set up a board of directors to handle the best practices part of the company.”

Weaver doesn’t sound worried about the complexities of merging a nonprofit trade association with a for-profit consulting organization. “The MSP Alliance has been able to turn on a dime,” Weaver said. “We see it as a positive thing. There are a lot of people in both groups. This will allow us to bring both together.” The MSP Alliance currently has about 100 members and Weaver said she hopes to increase that number by about 35 by adding SSAC members.

The MSP Alliance of the future will offer a three-prong approach: It will have its current consulting business, the SSAC best practices and industry education programs driven by a separate board of the directors and an affiliate company, KW Associates, that handles mergers and acquisitions within the MSP industry.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or the ASP industry in general? Speak out in the ASP Discussion Forum.

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