Tips for Choosing Your Managed IT Services Provider
In choosing a managed service provider, it is important to know that not all managed service providers are alike. In order to find the right one for your business, there are some key steps you should follow when evaluating potential MSPs.
Someone who understands your business and wants to learn more. While you may not be able to find an MSP who specializes in small businesses, look for one that has experience with businesses similar to yours. For example, if your business is an accounting firm or a retailer, look for an MSP with clients in the same industry.
Be sure to ask questions about their services and pricing before you sign up. When evaluating managed service providers, it doesn’t hurt to get more than one estimate. Make sure to ask specific questions about all of the services they are providing including how much downtime to expect during any upgrades or maintenance windows. Also, inquire about what happens when something goes wrong at 2 AM on a Saturday night while your site is down (i.e., can they provide emergency support). Once you have chosen the right MSP, make sure they provide an audit to ensure that everything is working properly and you are getting exactly what you were promised.
Ask a potential MSP if they offer anything beyond managed IT services. Depending on your business, an MSP who offers other services such as web design or hosting can be a nice bonus. Questions to ask when finding the right MSP: Can they handle all of my IT needs? What kinds of support do they offer? How do you charge for your services? How long have you been in business? Are you willing to provide references from clients with businesses similar to mine?
Seek an MSP with a proactive approach that goes beyond break-fix services. Make sure your MSP is taking a proactive approach and is monitoring your network for issues, looking out for potential problems, and preventing them before they cause downtime.
Make sure the managed service provider gives you support that you can understand and access easily. You will want to find an MSP that offers: A professional voice on the other end of the phone when things go wrong Faster response times than break-fix solutions Managed services providers provide personalized attention, fast response times, and simplified assistance so you don’t need extensive knowledge in IT administration. Ensure your provider’s technicians are not only technically proficient but also easy to work with and available by phone or email 24/7.
Be certain that provider accountability is written into any service level agreement. When you sign a service level agreement with your MSP, be sure that it clearly specifies exactly what is expected of them and what they will provide for you through the contract. What you should expect from every managed service provider: The right to hold your provider accountable through an SLA that guarantees performance Transparency in reporting Industry-leading expertise at reasonable prices A designated point person who knows you, your business needs, how to solve problems quickly and can easily access technical resources
Recognize that the up-front cost of managing your network should not be the only deciding factor in choosing your MSP. Don’t forget to factor in the costs of hardware, software licensing fees, IT staff salaries, and maintenance/upgrades when deciding between managed services providers.
When choosing a managed services provider it is wise for small business owners to choose one that specializes in serving small businesses. This will allow you to get the expertise you deserve at an affordable price.
Look for experience managing remote work, work from home, and hybrid work environments as well traditional office workplaces. Make sure the managed service provider you choose has experience in managing technology for offices with employees working remotely or on a BYOD (bring your own device) basis.
Finally, make sure your MSP has the right to assign tasks and monitor your IT environment. Look for an MSP who provides ‘unlimited’ help desk services since many small businesses require little more than occasional assistance on an irregular basis. You want someone who can handle even your most unexpected problems efficiently and effectively, while still meeting all of their other obligations.
Don’t be afraid to ask about support hours, response times, mobile devices supported, SLAs, etc., so you have certainty that they are truly prepared to back up their claims with action.
Questions to Asked
When looking at different managed service providers, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What experience does the MSP have in the industry relevant to my business?
- What kind of support do they provide? Do they offer any additional services beyond standard help desk support? How will I access this support and how much will it cost me?
- Does their staff work well with others? And more specifically, what about outside vendors that may be used by your business? For example, if they have a reseller relationship with a company that provides IP telephony for your business will the MSP’s staff be able to work well with that vendor?
- Do they have experience working with my industry? This is because different industries often require unique support services.
- What does their client retention rate look like? A high client retention rate means the MSP has likely built up an impressive level of expertise in managing IT infrastructure. Generally speaking, this should be one of the key metrics you should consider when evaluating managed service providers, as it can tell you how much value managers are getting from their outsourced IT service provider. Of course, there are many other important factors to consider when choosing an MSP. One final thing you should look for is how flexible the MSP is in working with your existing business systems, particularly if they are outdated or incompatible with the service currently being provided by your managed service provider.
In short, there are a number of important factors to consider when choosing a managed service provider. In addition to knowing what kind of help desk support services they can provide and at what level, it is also important to know their level of expertise in supporting specific types of businesses and industries. If you keep these considerations in mind then you will be well on your way to finding a managed service provider that is right for your business’s needs.