Partnering with the right managed service provider offers your business amazing benefits. No matter what size company you have, your internal IT team is probably overwhelmed. That's the case with most businesses, from smbs to large enterprises. When you have a trusted MSP, you get the right expertise for your needs without hiring in-house staff. You free up your own CIO and IT staff to work on forward-moving projects and you can prioritize and scale with greater efficiency. Of course, all of this is only possible if you outsource to the right MSP.
If you're reading this post, you already know that you need a managed service provider. You don't need to hear about all the benefits of partnering with one. The big question we want to answer for you is what to look for in a managed it service provider.
When you research any new investment, from software to acquisitions, the first question you need to answer is what are your it needs and what is the current state of your it infrastructure? Start with your own business. Some businesses might need a managed service provider to help with a specific project, day to day it support, or to act as a vCIO. Other businesses might want a full range of services. Many businesses are particularly interested in cybersecurity, upgrading their firewalls, or disaster recovery. None of these answers are wrong.
The best managed service provider for you to partner with will have a wealth of experience with your type of business and in the technology that you need. They will also offer the type of service that matches your company culture. These things are important factors. With a winning combination, your MSP becomes an extended part of your team that fits your budget.
The managed service provider you partner with is an important decision. One of the benefits of working with a good MSP is that you get the expertise without adding to your permanent payroll. But you do still need to make sure the company you work with is a good fit for your own. Here are ten tips to help you choose the best managed services provider for your business:
1. Contract a Provider for Where You Want to Grow.
Don't hire an MSP because they offer the bare minimum of what you need today. You want to develop a long term relationship with an MSP you can trust. Make sure you know what direction your business is moving in so you can have an in-depth conversation with prospective managed service providers about how they can help you scale and achieve your goals.
2. Consider Their Areas of Expertise.
Most MSPs have specific areas they specialize in. Some larger companies offer a full range of services. Make sure the MSP you chose offers the skill set you need today and in the future.
3. Research Their Reviews and Ask for Referrals.
Due diligence is important. Don't just take the MSP's website copy and sales team at their word. Make sure you follow up to check reviews online, read through testimonials, and talk to clients. In fact, check with your colleagues and other business leaders to see who they recommend locally.
4. Are They Experienced with Your Vendors?
Some MSP companies will be certified with different types of software or platforms. Whatever solutions you use, make sure the MSP has someone (or many people) on staff who is experienced in those tools.
5. Consider an MSP that Specializes in Your Industry.
Some businesses do well with a general MSP. But some industries are very specific. Healthcare and manufacturing come to mind. You may want to look for MSPs who work with your industry as a niche field or check to see if the MSP has other clients in your industry.
6. What Service Structures Do They Offer?
Many managed service providers offer a full range of services. Does the MSP have different tiers of service so that you can add or subtract as your business needs require? Do they use a break/fix model or a proactive one? Do they offer everything you need or will you need to outsource some specialties? This is important. You don't want to hire an MSP only to find that you need a separate company to handle cybersecurity or any other aspect of your company's it.
7. Do They Help You Proactively Budget Technology?
Upgrading technology is a large investment. Does your MSP work with you to assess your current processes, stay within your budget, and help you proactively build a strategy for upgrades in the future?
8. What Type of Staff Do They Have?
This is an important question. Some managed service providers use outsourced contractors for their it department while others have a core staff in house. You want to make sure that all of their staff, whether outsourced or not, are vetted and experienced. You also want to make sure that they have a variety of specialties within their company such as cloud computing, Microsoft, etc.
9. Flexibility and Level of Care.
Depending on your needs, you want to make sure that your MSP is available to come to your location and provide services when you need them. If you have an emergency, will they be able to keep your business up and running? What are their help desk response times? If you need staff trained, will they be available on short notice? You want a managed service provider that can offer fast and affordable service that caters to your business needs so you can have little to no downtime.
10. Does Your MSP Stay Current?
Technology changes rapidly. Your MSP should invest in their knowledge base regularly. This might mean training their staff on new innovations in information technology and it systems, how to better improve it management as a whole, attending company-wide training and conferences, and upgrading their education on a regular basis. They should be pushing the barrier in which it functions to new heights giving business owners a competitive advantage.
Choosing the right managed service provider for your company is a little like hiring an employee. You want to make sure that the MSP's values and mode of doing business align with your own and that they fit the company culture. Their reputation and longevity in business can tell you a great deal about the company, but newer MSPs might be well suited for your business, too, if the staff has the right experience and the culture matches your own. Another consideration is in the service level agreement (SLA). You do want to make sure that the terms are agreeable for your company.
Outsourcing to right managed service provider will be able to help you oversee your technology needs so that your staff can do what they do best, run your business. It is an investment but, a solid MSP gives you better security and improves your productivity and profit.