Your Guide to Picking a Managed Services Provider

Information Technology is a mixed blessing.

As it evolves, it becomes both more useful and more challenging. Successfully mining IT potential is imperative for those that want to remain competitive, yet many businesses struggle to keep up with rapid technological change.

Time spent dealing with IT issues is time taken away from core business goals and practices – and that is definitely not good for business.

That’s why many companies now outsource their IT needs to a third party.

Enter the Managed Services Provider (MSP).

What is an MSP?

An MSP is a third party to which a company outsources responsibility for monitoring and maintaining a set of defined day-to-day services and functions.  It’s a strategic move designed to enhance efficiency and cut expenses.

MSPs help bridge the gap between a company’s core expertise and other core essentials required to run a business. They’re able to handle a wide range of important company functions remotely  –  allowing their clients to get on with business.

What does an MSP do?

  • An MSP conducts a detailed review of your company’s processes – everything from payroll management to network security. They’ll look for ways to cut spending, maximize savings, and optimize efficiencies. They’ll also look for potential system challenges or liabilities in order to mitigate risk.
  • After completing the systems analysis, they’ll create customized solutions to address your specific IT needs.
  • Finally, MSPs will set up a plan to monitor, maintain, and support your business processes

To ensure that you and your MSP start out (and remain) on the right foot, create process workflow templates and document your SOPs to act as roadmaps. These tools are essential to a successful working relationship. They’ll detail your organization’s key operations, formally establish expectations, and ensure that your provider is accountable and is consistently meeting expectations.

MSP or SaaS?

Some businesses opt for a SaaS rather than a servicing agency to meet their IT management needs. Since SaaS apps aren’t sold as packages for purchase or downloading, users aren’t required to buy upgrades or licenses. They pay a subscription fee for the software – generally on a monthly basis.

On the other hand, businesses working with MSPs purchase a software license for each application they run, which can make the cost of an MSP considerably higher than that of a SaaS.

What Do MSP’s Offer?

The service menu is large and growing. It includes:

  • IT ServiceDesk
  • Remote monitoring
  • Cybersecurity – protection from malware, DDoS attacks,
  • Back-up services and disaster recovery
  • Self-service portals
  • Consultancy on digital transformation
  • Cloud services
  • Growing website traffic and other digital marketing initiatives
  • Infrastructure design and deployment
  • Payroll
  • Managing a data warehouse for you
  • Workforce management
  • Contract management and adherence
  • Procurement
  • Vendor management

What’s In It for You?

  • Cost savings: Generally providers charge a fee upfront, and subsequently an ongoing monthly fee. This makes monthly costs predictable. In addition, outsourcing can significantly reduce the costs of using dedicated in-house personnel, technology, and resources.

Unexpected repairs put a large dent in a company’s budget, but a contract with an MSP covers the costs.

  • Expertise: MSPs have specialized experience and knowledge, resulting in greater accuracy and less risk.
  • Superior equipment: MSPs will have the very best in tools, technology, and other resources to enhance business efficiency and streamline procedures.
  • Round-the-clock network monitoring: many MSPs guarantee 24/7 network protection by making use of sophisticated monitoring equipment.
  • Improved Security: crash concerns are minimized because MSPs offer extensive backup and recovery plans
  • Comprehensive Reporting: MSPs can offer a broad view of the business infrastructure, allowing managers to remain current on development within the company

A Grain of Salt

That said – there are reasons to think carefully before hiring an MSP.

  • A third party isn’t bound by your company’s rules and regulations.
  • Some of their services may not comply with privacy and protection laws.
  • An MSP may be given access to your security and other sensitive information – making your company more vulnerable to security breaches.
  • Your control over your business processes is limited when outsourcing to a third party. Pay heed to contract renewal clauses that require the MSP to comprehensively transfer assets to your servers when you terminate your project.
  • There’s a potential for discrepancies in the understanding of the services to be provided.

Finding the Right Fit for Your Business

Traditionally, finding solutions for assorted IT issues was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Now MSPs are able to provide end-to-end service: a single provider can meet all their customer’s tech needs.

That makes the question of how to choose even more important because you’re effectively choosing a business partner.

Factors to consider:

  • How long they’ve been in business

The MSP you choose will be the one you rely on for smooth, consistent delivery of key services over the long haul. Longevity indicates experience and resilience.

When you have a problem, you want a quick resolution. Get a specified response time in writing – and hold them to it.

A good MSP should be able to provide references – so ask for them – particularly from businesses in your industry. Check their Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures customer satisfaction.

Establish exactly what their capabilities are and whether they provide all services themselves or do selective outsourcing. If it’s all in-house, can they deal with periods of high demand?

You’ll want to know if they can detect emerging problems before they can negatively impact you.

  • Access to customer portals

Useful to access information, track support tickets or quotes, and monitor performance.

Technology and business need to evolve. You’ll want to be confident that your MSP can fulfill your requirements both now and in the future.

The global surge in outsourcing managed services is no surprise, given the rapid pace of technological change.

It’s a smart move – not just because it optimizes efficiency and lowers costs.

More importantly, it allows you and your in-house team to focus on your core business – your values, direction, and product strategy – instead of being distracted by the minutiae of day-to-day processes.

So you can get on with the business of doing business.

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