IT outsourcing is not a hand-off – it’s a partnership. That’s why the selection of your managed service provider (MSP) should not be taken lightly. Think about when you’re hiring new staff. You look for candidates who are experienced, proactive, and consistent. Candidates who are able to demonstrate a track record of success and an attitude that fits well with your organisation. The same principles apply when you’re seeking a managed services provider who will look after your entire IT infrastructure.
Here are 8 factors to consider when choosing the right Managed IT Service provider for your firm:
1. Reputation and Experience
When it comes to outsourcing IT, a good track record is everything. It allows insight into past achievements and predicts future performance. Things to look for when choosing your MSP include:
- How long has the company been in operation? How many staff do they have? What certifications do they hold? The longer a company has been in operation, the better depth and breadth of experience they will offer your company.
- Who are their clients and can they provide references? A broad and diverse client base indicates broad experience and adaptability.
- Are their services scalable? The best managed services provider will have a portfolio of services that not only spans the criticalities of your IT infrastructure today, but also provides the infrastructure to support you in the future with initiatives such as Cloud Computing and Enterprise Mobility.
2. Proactive Approach to IT Management
You should be able to rely on your potential MSP as a trusted advisor; an extension of your team able to foresee future needs and address them while always keeping your business goals front of mind. Experienced IT partners will use IT assessments and discussions of business needs and goals to identify solutions that best suit your business. Moving forward, progressive IT companies should be able to outline IT roadmaps which are aligned with your company’s future goals and will keep you competitive.
3. Knows and Follows Industry Best Practice
Best practice reduces downtime, costs, and disruption to your business while enhancing security and efficiency. Ask these questions:
- Do they adhere to ITIL framework and ISO standards?
- Do they have tested, efficient and consistent processes?
- Do they provide 24/7 monitoring? What methods and software do they use?
- Do they provide a single point of contact who understands your business?
- How do they plan to start the service without disrupting your employees or workflow? The IT provider should always fit seamlessly around your working environment.
- Do they provide documentation of your network and asset tracking?
- Do they provide daily backup verification and periodic testing restoration?
4. Multivendor Environment Support
Your MSP should become the single point of contact for all support issues, even in the most complex multivendor environment. Irrespective of whether the source of the problem is hardware or software, a reliable managed service provider should be able to provide the required expertise, support and vendor escalation.
5. Service Level Agreement
Service level agreements (SLA’s) outline the level of service that will be provided under the agreement and provide measurable terms. Your MSP’s service level agreement should clearly outline the service framework, security management, response times, and any corresponding penalties for breaching. Ask for monthly reports that outline call logging and resolution, system uptime, backups and security checks.
6. Level of Support
Depending on your business needs, you can choose from a variety of support options from your MSP. You might only require them during business hours, or you might want 24/7 support. It is advisable to ensure that they offer remote support – 90% of IT problems can be solved remotely.
7. Pricing Model
The MSP should be able to demonstrate potential cost savings they can provide based on your business model. Use this to help determine which provider will allow the quickest return on investment. However this should not be your only decision-making factor. Weigh up the overall value and service they provide with the ROI.
8. Attitude and Culture
From the moment you make contact with the MSP, make note of how they work, their culture and attitude. Consider their response time to your enquiries, the knowledge they demonstrate, their eagerness to discuss your needs, the time taken to supply you with a proposal, and so on. How they work with you at the beginning is a sign of things to come, so choose a MSP that is efficient from the outset. Also avoid companies that talk down to you from their tech towers. If you can’t understand them now, how will you cope when your systems are down? You will rely on support provided by this MSP, so their ability to communicate clearly and act swiftly is paramount.