How to Choose a Managed Service Provider

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With the growing demand for outsourced IT services, the managed services market projects to nearly $300 billion by 2023. Even today, 75% of SMBs outsource at least a portion of their IT to a managed service provider (MSP). Why? It’s less expensive to contract with an MSP than to hire an internal IT team. Here are some tips on how to choose a managed service provider.

Here are some key areas to address during the selection process.

  1. Competency: Are they competent? Will they help drive your IT success? Do they have experience in your industry?

    One of the pluses of working with an MSP is that they’ve been there and done it. They’ve likely experienced similar issues with other companies in your market space; so, they can address technical issues confidently. They transfer their knowledge to your business for faster, foolproof solutions.

    Competency demands experience in all IT facets, including VoIP services, ransomware, cybersecurity services, cloud computing, and more. Cybersecurity and cloud solutions are especially critical in a business climate where work from home has become the norm. Cloud services enable remote access but present increased security concerns. Select an IT company near you versed in handling on-site and off-site work environments.

    Make sure your MSP will go the extra yard to ensure security. What do they use to minimize vulnerabilities associated with viruses, malware, and cybercriminals? What technologies do they employ to block data intrusions and stop them before they compromise your network? Do they provide layered solutions to create a barrier against cyber-attacks?
  2. Response: One of the reasons, perhaps the largest, clients move from one MSP to another is a weak response. Clients are left wondering when and if an IT support issue gets addressed. A capable MSP will have metrics to support their performance.

    Ask them what their typical response times are when addressing issues. More important, find out how long it takes them to resolve issues. The more downtime, the more money your business will lose.

    Ask your provider for their Net Promotor Score (NPS) to see how successful they handle clientele. Ask them about their client retention rate and customer satisfaction ratings.
  3. Fixed Pricing: One of the reasons to work with an MSP is budget control. Look for an MSP that provides fixed pricing, so there’s no question regarding your monthly service fee. A better MSP will include projects as part of that fixed cost.

    Otherwise, you leave yourself open to getting nickel and dimed for every project that crops up outside the scope of your agreement.
  4. Flexibility: Look for a managed service provider near you that provides flexibility when meeting your budget needs. Many deliver an all-or-nothing package. A client-focused MSP will offer pricing and services tailored to fit your needs and budget.

    A fully managed solution should be a core offering. But if you’re looking for something less extensive, your provider should have a solution that delivers IT essentials for less. They should even work with you on a co-managed basis where you can select the services specific to your needs.
  5. Established Processes: Part of the reason you should consider using an MSP is for established best practices. The most qualified MSP has everything buttoned down with its systems. They can, then, transfer their own best practices to your IT department.

    Part of those established processes should be owning a solid plan for onboarding clients. Ask them about the steps they take during the migration process to avoid unnecessary downtime. Do they keep your native system running to make sure they can revert in the event of unanticipated issues?
  6. Monitoring: The best MSPs deliver 24/7 support and constant monitoring. They’re readily available off-hours to ensure your IT infrastructure keeps running, regardless of whether that support is on or off-site.

    They also give you appropriate access to report and follow-up on issue resolution.
  7. Virtual Chief Information Officer: The beauty of having a vCIO assigned to your account is that you’ll get more proactive results. You’ll also be better able to future-proof your IT operations. A vCIO will create a technology roadmap for you. That plan helps identify technology deployments and establish solid budgeting.

    Make sure to look for a provider with documented approaches for assessing your IT environment and detailing an action plan. For that matter, make sure they provide documentation for everyday activities. It makes it easier to address problems in the future. It also allows them to review logs to uncover repeat issues and develop a plan for fixing them.

    A vCIO can also help formalize business continuity and disaster recovery solutions.
  8. Metrics Focus: Work with an MSP that can present metrics to layer transparency into your IT operations. You’ll want to access reporting that provides intel into workstation ages, warranty statuses, drive usage, ticket submissions, and ticket types. Metrics will alert you to potential issues and trends and allow for more proactive support.
  9. Customer Experience: Don’t overlook this one. You want an MSP that will give you a great customer experience from the day they walk in the door. Do they ask questions to understand your pain points? Do they listen to your responses? Do they throw industry jargon at you that makes you wonder what they’re doing? Do you feel like you’re a client or a partner?

    Lots of MSPs are great with technology and the nuts and bolts associated with it. But they lose sight of the fact you’re a customer. They also focus on daily tasks and fail to address the larger picture that ultimately drives your IT success.

    Part of that customer experience requires having technicians readily on hand to deliver IT support. Work with an MSP that maintains its internal staff and doesn’t rely on outsourcing to support their operation. Otherwise, you may not have a technician available when you need it most.

Work with an MSP That Will Drive Your IT Success

Choosing the right managed service provider will make or break your IT success. Cost is always an issue. But don’t let an MSP’s lower price fool you into believing their service offering will deliver the support you need.

IntermixIT is routinely honored as a world-class MSP. We’ve received accolades from business-related sources like Inc. 500 and CRN. More importantly, our clients give us a 98% customer satisfaction rating. You can count on our customer experience to drive your IT success.

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