Most organizations realize the need for top-drawer IT infrastructure for effective operations. However, this can sometimes create a big hole in their budgets to get the right skills, hardware, and software. Even though a few manage to put it all together, the overhead expenses can become a burden. Additionally, it may become difficult to budget well due to frequent changes in the technology industry. The changes can be unexpected software updates or cybersecurity upgrades.
When these challenges arise, your better option is to hire the services of a managed service provider (MSP). For starters, an MSP relieves your in-house IT team of various tasks, like network monitoring and software updates. Furthermore, you get access to a wide field of expertise that you may not have managed to hire. You can read more here to find out the services you get from an MSP and how they can benefit your organization.
The Search For A Managed Service Provider
The task of getting the right MSP for your business can be tedious and confusing. However, you can tick the ones that strike you the most and narrow them down to a few with the right checklist. Read below to learn about the key qualities to watch out for in an MSP.
- Industry Knowledge And Expertise
Although IT, in general, helps keep your business running smoothly, some specific regulations and guidelines guide the industry of your operation. For example, compliance regulations for a manufacturing organization would be different from those of a hospitality business.
Therefore, you need to determine what knowledge the MSP has in your industry and if it has the right expertise to suit your operations. Otherwise, you may contract an MSP and end up being the one to provide guidance every so often. If you get an MSP with operations in the same industry as your organization, their experience and advice will benefit your business.
In terms of industry expertise, the MSP needs to have experience with other businesses that have the same size and operations as yours. This experience will help during certain software updates or hardware upgrades for your network.
- Technical Expertise
Your organization needs different levels of IT expertise at different times. So, you’ll have to examine the MSPs and ensure that you can get whatever technical assistance you may need. MSPs generally hire various technical experts and always work on training and improving their skills. However, you shouldn’t assume that they can foresee all your IT needs just because they are an IT-providing company.
You can check to guarantee that the MSP understands the technology your business uses and can help build it up in line with your business goals. You can go further and check their association with leading IT software vendors. This can indicate their level of expertise and how serious they are with their services.
- Flexibility And Scalability
Sometimes, you may need to reduce or increase the service you get from an MSP. For this reason, look at the room an MSP allows you to scale the service provisions up or down. Check if there are specific terms and conditions regarding scalability.
As your business grows, your IT requirements may also increase. Therefore, the MSP you choose should adapt to your business environment and accommodate your needs. Sometimes, you may need to customize services to fit your operational needs. In this case, the MSP should adjust its package to accommodate the changes you need. In short, look at an MSP that allows you room to wiggle a bit as per your budget and IT requirements. An MSP that customizes such services as business applications, telephony services, or data plans for you would be a good option.
Check for operational times, a 24-hour support system, and dedicated support personnel as you seek out an MSP. In some MSPs, you may even get a dedicated account manager. This IT expert shall be your point of contact with the MSP and can work with you to understand your needs and expectations.
Moreover, you can look at their support structure and how they can respond to emergencies. A good MSP should have a team on standby to handle any incidents without tedious red-tape processes. The support team available to assist you in emergencies should diagnose and resolve issues as soon as possible. They should have remote or on-site support options as well, depending on the need or incident.
- Proactivity And Support Process
The current business environment relies more on uninterrupted IT services. For example, authorizing a payment to your business partners may need electronic signatures. As such, your network shouldn’t experience any downtime when you require a task. Most communication with your clients and suppliers may run through several software applications. All this means is that your network’s uptime is crucial for effective operations in your business.
Your MSP preference should monitor and understand your network well enough to detect and neutralize any unusual activity that may affect your operations. An MSP should do the donkey work behind the scenes so that their clients don’t experience system disruptions.
In the event you experience a system downtime, your MSP should have an immediate well-defined support process that brings you back online soonest. In addition, it should have a data backup service as a fallback. A good sign of support and proactivity in an MSP would be its communication channels in case of any eventuality. Once you establish this quality well, you may be in a good position to pick your MSP.
- Reputation And Reviews
This may be an age-old method, but it works well across different sectors. To obtain this, you can seek other clients’ reviews of services an MSP renders, their response time, availability, support, and customer value. You won’t necessarily need to ask the MSP their track records, but check if they have a customer review platform. Having this kind of platform will indicate how they value customer feedback.
Additionally, examine an MSP’s business period versus its reputation in the industry. For instance, if an MSP has been in business for a long period, how are their service delivery and reliability? You can check too if they do meet their contractual obligations and ease of doing business.
It’s no doubt that you may require the extensive services of a managed service provider as a business. However, before you can put pen to paper and commit, you need to find out about their expertise, reputation, and support system. Further, consider your changing IT needs and whether the MSP allows you to scale their services depending on these needs.