Whether starting a new business, creating a new division, or simply experiencing growth, equipping teams with the technology needed to perform successfully should be a key element of your strategy. By design, cloud solutions make these processes more streamlined, as scaling to accommodate a growing business is almost always an inherent part of these solutions. In addition to technology, the other major part of the equation is how to properly support new or advanced business systems.
A managed service provider (MSP) does not replace your internal IT staff, rather it helps to grow your team by handling specific processes such as managing remote systems. As such, businesses tend to turn to MSPs as these solutions are both more efficient and cost-effective. In the following, we will see what Managed Services mean, as well as points to consider when selecting an MSP partner.
What is an IT Managed Services Provider?
Managed services are one of the concepts that differ between providers in their actual application. Some providers offer managed services that are ultra-focused and can only provide specific solutions. Nevertheless, such providers still meet the definition of Managed Services as it applies to any organization that provides outsourced IT services to other businesses.
The problem with this broad interpretation is that it is a subjective definition. Just because a company can offer a solution labeled “managed services” does not mean that it is equipped to meet your organization’s specific needs. As such, it is important to do your homework when looking for a new or replacement provider to ensure they have the ability to handle your current technology as well as develop or adapt changes to suit your business needs.
A skilled MSP will free you to focus on growing your business while its IT professionals take over the wheel and help take your business to the top of your industry. The benefits of bringing an experienced MSP on board are:
- Effective security and reliability management in the IT environment
- Reliable and skilled IT resources maintain and secure your environment
- Improved system performance resulting in reduced business downtime
- Access to a variety of IT knowledge and technological capabilities in several fields
- Lowered operational costs and improved ROI
1. Check Credentials, Case Studies, and Testimonials
If you are planning to visit an unfamiliar place, you will definitely check reviews of restaurants and hotels in that area before getting there, right? The same applies when you are in the market for a vehicle (even if your mind is already focused on a particular brand and model). With MSP, you probably won’t find the Yelp page, so you should check the provider’s site for customer success stories and rewards.
You may also want to do some additional investigation by checking sites like Glassdoor for employee reviews. If possible, consider visiting MSP headquarters and meeting their leadership team to help determine if their culture matches your business. Also, be sure to check their status with partner vendors (for example, Microsoft Gold Certified Partners is Microsoft’s most highly accredited independent technical support provider). Also, be sure to determine if the MSP really understands your business and has relevant vertical industry experience.
2. The Capability to Offer Integrated Services to Meet Your Needs
This is where the assumption really applies that not all managed services provider are created equal. Whether you have a hybrid infrastructure built on VMware and are adamant about maintaining this setup, or you are a dedicated Azure customer, find a provider that specializes in these platforms. Moving on to the first point, don’t leave matters like that, and make sure you or your confidant consultant can pick the mind of the provider interviewing for the job. Make sure they have the ability to handle your environment and user needs or they can appropriately convert you into something new because your organization cannot afford to become someone’s training ground.
3. Proficiency with Multiple Technologies and Platforms
Due to the vast number of systems on the market, it is essential for most MSPs to at least understand the different types of technology, even if it is not their main focus. For example, employees may want (or need) to use certain apps on their personal or company-issued mobile devices in the field or at home. When it comes to your current environment and the technology regularly used by your employees, make sure prospective MSPs have the Will (and capabilities) to support everyday business technology in addition to any technology used by your organization in the near future.
4. Understand Their Pricing Structure
Most cloud-based solutions and applications naturally have the ability to scale – with Office 365, for example, getting additional licenses is easier when you need more licenses after adding new staff members. Any reputable MSP will have the ability to accommodate more (or fewer) users, but this usually becomes limited to a pricing matter. For example, if a team size increases in your organization or if your organization decides to eliminate an Interior Department in favor of an outsourced solution, pricing should reflect these changes appropriately. Before signing a contract, be sure to understand how pricing will fluctuate according to your needs.
5. Proactive or Reactive?
Do you want a managed services provider that takes precautionary steps to prevent problems even before they occur, or would you prefer a provider that takes immediate action as soon as the problem appears? This is a tricky question because the answer is ‘both’. A good MSP will deal with preventive procedures to protect and monitor your technology as well as be available immediately if something goes wrong. With the Managed Services of the core, you can use the U.S.- Based 24×7 Network Operations Control (NOC) team that will proactively monitor your environment and help prevent any event when it occurs.
6. Ability to Augment Staff to Fit Your Business Needs
Often, companies will choose to use a mix of IT employees on the company payroll and supplement the efforts of this team with Managed Services. A Forbes contributor compared the managed services provider to a home renovation project, which is mostly accurate, except for the fact that the provider can become a permanent part of the team.
7. Understand the Service Level Agreement (SLA)
When it comes to most End-User License Agreements (EULAs) that we encounter in our daily lives, it’s safe to say that most of us usually go to the end and agree to terms as soon as possible. Although we may not be concerned about the terms and conditions of our personal software use, do not do so with a managed service contract! This is a business contract that is important to understand before proceeding. Technology is a major contributor to the success of your organization, so it is imperative to know that everything will be in the best hands.