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What should you look for in a Managed Services Provider?

When you think about technology and your business, what it the first thing that comes to mind? Are your daily operations being interrupted by system glitches? Are you lacking technical support or always waiting for someone to call you back? 

Time is money in any business and if your operating system is not running efficiently, you are losing money. Not to mention that no one can possibly do everything. That is why it is important to consider hiring a Managed Services Provider (MSP) who will benefit your business in the long run. An MSP can help you, the business owner, find the right technology to fit your day-to-day operations and needs.

What can a managed services provider help you with?

Essentially, an MSP will provide ongoing support to ensure that your business is running smoothly and allow you focus on what you do best without having to deal with the headache of technology issues. Typically, a reputable MSP will tackle your daily technology needs, such as:

  •  System monitoring and maintenance
  • resolving IT issues in a timely manner
  • managing alerts
  • ensuring security precautions and measures are followed
  • patch management
  • data backup as well as data recovery for a number of client devices like desktops or notebooks
  • remotely monitoring and managing servers
  • managing storage systems (cloud, backups, etc)
  • remote monitoring of networks
  • troubleshooting applications

What should you look for in a managed services provider?

Now that you know how hey can help you run your business smoothly with less IT downtime, how do you choose a reputable provider that is the best possible fit for your business or organization?

First, you will want to consider your industry. Some providers offer services and packages aimed at specific industry verticals such as non-profit organizations, construction or trucking companies, while others will focus on small businesses, and others larger businesses. 

To find out if a managed services provider is right for you, you will have to ask the right and sometimes difficult questions. Think of it as a job interview. If you don't really like the answers you get, find an MSP who can give you the answers you are looking for.

10 questions to ask before hiring a managed services provider

  1. What experience do you have in my industry? In this case, if an MSP can demonstrate that they have helped clients in your industry, further that discussion by providing examples of your day-to-day IT requirements. A good answer would be if they can provide solutions, point out the challenges and give an example of how they have solved a similar issue before
  2. What vendors do you use and how do you select them? Is vendor management an option? When getting a response, you will be looking to see if the prospective provider will offer best in class vendors versus rebate or commission vendors. You want your MSP to be focused on using vendors that rank high in industry standards so that they can select the best in class. Gartner is a good source for top-rated vendors. Good hardware and good design equals better IT.
  3. How strong are your relationships with your vendors? A good MSP will work with approved vendors on a regular basis. Don't let them try to downplay the importance of vendors. You will want to work with a provider who understands the importance of building relationships in business. Having the right vendor for you controls costs and ensures that you get the best fit, and the right MSP for you will be able to provide the best possible vendors, products and service.
  4. What competencies do you have? Find out if they can they work with your basic systems to start with. What can they manage on a a day-to-day basis? The right MSP will have to match your needs as you may have specific business applications that not every company can manage. On the other hand, would they be willing to commit to learning a new system end-to-end?
  5. How can they be leveraged to benefit my company? The point of having an MSP is so that you, the business owner, only have one call to make, one provider to manage everything, so make sure that truly will be the case.
  6. What is the scope of services you are offering? Basically, you want to find out what level of service they will be providing. For example, on site versus remote, or 8 to 5 Monday through Friday versus 24/7. You want to get a handle on the level of service and response time to expect before you hire.
  7. What will you consider in/out of scope and how do you handle it? Will they cover changes or not? Typically, if you start adding users, most MSP's don't cover specific projects that technically fall out of scope.
  8. What steps do you take in managing your clients' IT? Do they have a process to follow or do they simply take everything on? Ideally, you want to work with an MSP who has a vision for your IT, aligns themselves with your vision and also makes sense cost wise.
  9. Give an example of a successful client relationship versus unsuccessful and how you've managed both. It is fairly easy to judge a good answer here. Simply remember that you want your MSP to focus on building relationships rather than just technology. Anyone can manage IT, only a good MSP will work with you. It is possible for a company to outgrow their current provider, but how is it managed? You want to know that they worked to communicate that growth, focused on the best interests of the company, and facilitated a smooth transition to another provider who would make a better fit.
  10. How is billing and reporting done? It is important to be clear on a few things: do you get reports, do you know issues, does your bill make sense (overages, charges, etc)? A good MSP will meet with you on a regular basis, whether it's monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. You want to know that your provider knows what is going on in your business and can demonstrate that

Here are another 5 determining factors you can apply before you hire a managed services provider:

  • Request a test run- There is no better way to find out how you will work together unless you give it a try. If they are willing, pay attention to the next few factors before you sign a contract. 
  • Assess their level of support - You want to know that when you leave the office, your provider will still watching your back or in this case your network. Any reputable MSP will offer 24/7 support.
  • Are they really local? - Many managed service providers boast that they offer 'local' support. Use this time to find out if they really are as local as they say. Not everything can be fixed remotely and you don't want to find out afterwards that they are actually located in another country.
  • Pay attention to their track record - You'll want to find a provider who has been up and running for at least 3 years. The best IT support comes from a reputable and long-standing source.
  • Get them to provide a financial analysis- Before you sign up for anything, have your prospective provider flesh out the details of your budget for you. Don't be afraid to turn down anything that does not reflect a realistic and predictable budget on your end.

At SC Systems, we understand how important it is for your business or non-profit organization to run smoothly everyday. We take special care to ensure that all of your IT needs are met. We truly are a full-service technology provider.

Feel free to comment below or call us today 1.877.249.8377 to get connected to worry-free technology. 

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