March Networks® (www.marchnetworks.com) is a global provider of advanced video surveillance systems used for security applications in banking, retail, transportation, commercial and government organizations in more than 50 countries. They sell their products through an extensive dealer network, and rely on a combination of multinational websites, a resource-rich Partner Portal, email communications and online programs to continually serve up the latest corporate news, product information and support tools to customers and resellers alike.
More than seven years ago, March Networks made the strategic decision to outsource the management and maintenance of these web vehicles to Marvel & Snap. Their motives were fairly straightforward.
“We wanted to make the most of the marketing communications resources we had.”
The company had been using the traditional internal webmaster/IT infrastructure approach through much of their rapid corporate growth, but they were looking for a more effective way to address the increasing day-to-day and project-based demands of keeping their public and partner-specific web environments current.
Deploying frequent content revisions, image changes, page updates – in addition to the ongoing and often menial tasks involved in maintaining, in this case, not one but several region/language-specific websites – is not trivial. “And as you know, changes often need to be made immediately.” said Miskew. “But there was another major driver for us as well.” she added. “We were looking for a level of focus on and expertise with web tools, techniques, and best practices that is often difficult to maintain in-house. There can be too many competing priorities inside a company. The variety of programs, projects, products that compete for time and mindshare make it hard to focus on a given discipline and stay on top of the latest developments in that field.”
“External partners are free from these distractions, and are better able to have that focus. By virtue of being a web services company, Marvel & Snap is continually immersed in the online world, and can therefore advise us on the best ways to evolve our online presence. That was very important to the relationship we wanted to establish.”
Outsourcing the management and maintenance of your corporate and partner websites is not always an easy decision. But March Networks’ real-world experience shows why Managed Web Services from Marvel & Snap can make so much business sense.
Marvel & Snap put together a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to assume shared management of March Networks’ web servers (in collaboration with March Networks’ IT group), and to provide an agreed number of hours per month of dedicated maintenance and enhancement services for their websites and online programs, all appropriate to the company’s needs and budget. Similar SLAs are crafted for each Marvel & Snap customer, tailored to their own individual requirements, be they large or small. Under these agreements, all customers can be assured those essential content edits and changes, image and graphic updates, page additions or deletions, and more, are all performed as part of their regular maintenance commitment. In March Networks’ case, Miskew comments,
“The responsiveness and turnaround for these types of changes is excellent, even under tight deadlines. The execution is always first-rate, and all of our stakeholders are pleased with the results.”
But the relationship with March Networks had a more strategic starting point. “As a trusted domain expert, we first asked Marvel & Snap to do a full review of our online presence, and help influence our web strategies going forward.” said Miskew. “They did that extremely well, providing a holistic assessment of our needs and those of our users. And we continue to trust this skill. If we have a question or an idea, we shoot it over to them. They do the required research if necessary, and come back with answers in a consultative fashion, which we definitely value.”
March Networks’ services also include technical and creative support for ongoing email communications, ad campaigns and various other marketing projects. Marvel & Snap offers a combination of design and technical skills that is hard to duplicate, particularly in comparison to finding and retaining a good in-house webmaster.
“Marvel & Snap’s web design and graphic skills are of a very high quality, but so is their underlying technical depth. The team is always on top of issues related to browsers, compatibility, mobile technologies and so on.”
Marvel & Snap customers get the benefits of a much larger web team than they would likely be able to sustain in-house. One of the best examples was a recent special project to redesign March Networks’ public website. Instead of one in-house webmaster, a team of 4 ‘virtual’ external resources were thrown at the creative, technical and aggressive timeline challenges of the project, and together with March Networks’ requirement and content experts, they all ensured each deliverable was completed per the plan.
“All these tactics work best when they are designed and implemented with a current knowledge of the customer and their markets,” says Andre Langlois, Founder and CEO of Marvel & Snap. “The day-to-day relationships we create, in this case with March Networks, give us a deeper understanding of their ongoing wants and needs, and therefore enable us to execute more effectively. And also more cost-efficiently when compared to the sporadic relationships offered by other agencies for example. We continue to prove ourselves with this customer. They love the work we do, and they have grown very comfortable with us as their web partner, their go-to team.”
Further evidence of the success of this relationship, Marvel & Snap also provides services to March Networks groups beyond the marketing team. Together with the company’s IT, application software and training groups, they have developed online tools and applications to bring additional benefit and value to March Networks customers and partners. “Again, having a team to turn to that not only has the right skill set but also understands our company, our vertical markets, and our business objectives, helps us better deliver on all our projects.” said Miskew. “But just like any business, our needs go up and down. Having the ability to scale our web services accordingly, and throw as much or as little at a partner as needed, is a big benefit.”