Considering most companies seek out a Managed Service Provider (or MSP) in order to make their daily operations easier, you might also assume that finding a good one is a simple process that mostly consists of a quick Google search. But unfortunately, good SEO on their customer website doesn’t equate to being the best possible MSP for your company.
With this in mind, there are a few important factors you should be considering when looking for an MSP, and to make sure that you have a good relationship with them going forward – just carry on reading to learn them!
Finding A Provider Who Has Worked With Similar Companies
A surefire way to know that an MSP can get along with your business is by finding out whether they’ve worked well with similar businesses to your own. This doesn’t have to mean a company that’s identical to your own; just finding one that’s a similar size, at a similar level of development, or in the same industry should be enough.
If you can find that they’ve done this, then you can feel confident that they’ll have a better understanding of the structure and daily operations of your business, even if they don’t necessarily know all of the nuances of your company yet. Better yet, you can request contact details for these like-minded companies and get in touch with them for a testimonial, or find them yourself on LinkedIn for a quick back and forth.
Drafting A Mutually Beneficial SLA
You might be wondering how you can guarantee that an MSP will provide everything you need to keep your IT systems going; that’s where an SLA (or Service Level Agreement) comes in, a legally binding document that details every nuance of the services you’ll receive and how much you’re expected to pay for them.
You might find that starting from a package deal and making alterations from there is the best way to go, but there’s no one way of making the best agreement for you. It’s in your hands, and it’s up to you to ensure that the talks you have with any potential provider are informative and thorough enough to result in a good service for your business.
Knowing You Have Proactive Support
It’s the nightmare scenario of any business owner: coming in on a Monday morning to discover that your systems have been down all weekend without you knowing. With the right provider, this situation can be completely avoided, and instead of finding an office out of commission, you’ll just have a text on your phone letting you know that a problem was found and fixed.
Because downtime can cost your business up to $85,000 an hour – an eye watering number even for the most comfortable companies – you’ll want to make sure that a potential MSP can provide this level of support. Many MSPs utilise system monitoring applications that can keep 24 hour staff up to date on any potential issues that have arisen with your systems, instead of waiting on you to discover the problem yourself. 24/7 support might not be completely necessary for every company, but if you have mission critical applications that can’t afford to go down, this is well worth considering.
Making Sure They Can Mesh With Your IT Team
While you may not think of your IT professionals as the most dramatic or high maintenance employees in your roster, you still can’t be sure that they’ll work well with another random team that you bring into the mix. Even with good intentions, disagreements can arise, and the last thing you want is a tense working environment.
Therefore, you’re going to want to bear two things in mind: making sure that your MSP is happy to work with any IT employees currently in your office, and creating an organisational structure in which everybody’s duties are clear to avoid mixups. While there are a variety of advantages and disadvantages to assigning certain projects in-house or with an MSP, you should still make sure to plan around them for the sake of fostering the best working environment for your team. After all, no matter how excellent both teams are individually, if they clash it could spell disaster for your IT support needs.
Growing With Your Provider
You might not be expecting to helm a business empire in the next six months, but even if your growth plans are modest, you need to be sure that any MSP you work with can share in your ambition. Although it might just seem like they’re sitting looking at your IT systems from some distant location without getting very involved unless a problem comes up, they’ll actually become tightly enmeshed with your company, helping you through system overhauls, new premises, and important meetings.
You can’t just break off this kind of relationship without some difficulties, and you likely won’t want to leave behind a company that’s seen you through so much. That’s why talking to any potential provider about their five or even ten year plan is a good idea; compare their planned growth rate with your own, and enquire about what they would do if you were to land an unexpectedly impressive client, taking note of their reaction in the process.
Every multinational corporation had to begin life as a small business, and these days, IT has almost definitely had a hand in their success. If they don’t seem to have the same ambition as you, you may want to move on, but if they’re as keen as you are to reach new highs, and have the resources and professionalism to back up their enthusiasm, then they could be accompanying you on the way to some huge milestones.