Almost every business can benefit from outside assistance with some or all of its IT. An experienced, well-established Managed Service Provider (MSP) will take on your IT maintenance, support, processes, and planning to ensure the most efficient use of your resources. There are several important considerations to bear in mind when choosing an MSP.
Range of Services
Make sure you have a good understanding of the services an MSP offers so you can identify the ideal fit for your business. Your IT needs will likely change over time; can your agreement be easily amended to adapt to these changes? What services would require additional investment beyond the agreement or involve the use of another supplier?
Depth of Skills and Experience
The MSP’s staff are going to be your staff, so it’s important to get to know them.
- Where are support technicians physically located in relation to your facilities? This can be important if on-site work is required.
- Will you regularly interact with the same MSP staff members or will the staff rotate often? You want the MSP’s staff to know your business, processes, and common IT issues well; a specialized team can be invaluable.
- What certifications do support and engineering personnel have? How often do they receive training on existing technology updates and new hardware or software offerings? MSPs should have expertise in-house that goes beyond basic IT skills, allowing them to anticipate and resolve a myriad of problems quickly.
An MSP should be proactively involved in keeping your IT systems up-to-date through service packs, antivirus updates, security patches, and more. They should also have monitoring in place to let you know about issues such as limited storage and security alerts as they arise.
How quickly will an MSP respond to you during business hours, after-hours, on weekends, and on holidays? These guarantees are detailed in an MSP’s service level agreement (SLA). It is important to make sure that the response times are in-line with your company’s needs.
An MSP should provide regular reports in simple formats that measure key performance indicators such as response time, downtime, number of support calls and more. The reports should detail problems addressed, maintenance completed, and the total health of your network. The data provided should paint a clear picture of the value of your IT investment.
Most importantly, look at the MSP’s reputation. Time in business and size of staff demonstrate an established company with good resources. However, client references are essential for a real-world, accurate evaluation of an MSP and their offerings. Talk with their clients about actual experiences with the provider and ask them questions about any specific areas of concern.
Choosing an MSP is an important decision that will positively impact your entire business’ performance and success. If you want to learn how MSPs can support you, contact us today.