Building a relationship with your Managed Services Provider (MSP) might be one of the most important partnerships you build as an organization, so it’s natural to have questions about what the overall relationship should look like.
Think about it: This partner has access to all your applications and systems. They help guide you to make technology investments for your business. They work directly with your business to ensure that you’re making the best decisions possible. This is why it’s critical to assess your managed services provider based on the needs of your organization.
You cannot waste time, energy, and resources on correcting issues that should have been resolved the first time – and you certainly can’t afford to lose data due to a security breach or failed backup solution. Therefore, it’s critical to ask yourself these important questions about your current MSP and whether they’re supporting your needs.
Do they have the right knowledge and skillset to support your technology?
Experience is one of the most common – and critical – gaps between many in-house IT teams and exceptional MSPs. IT teams at MSPs are exposed to a wide array of environments rather than just one, requiring that their knowledge and skillset remain up-to-date. MSPs also have the resources to hire knowledge workers with highly focused skillsets, such as cybersecurity. They become an extension of your IT team, augmenting the knowledge needed to support and grow your department.
Choosing the right MSP might mean selecting an MSP that holds certain certifications or that is highly trained in a specific technology stack – such as Microsoft product lines. It may also mean selecting an MSP with a working knowledge of what it’s like to work within a specific industry, such as agriculture and fresh produce. Ultimately, that knowledge is going to help your organization do more with its technology investments.
Do they understand your business?
This is about more than simply your technology environment; it’s about understanding how your business operates, the day-to-day functionality that’s essential to operate, and how you make decisions. Understanding your business is critical to making recommendations for technology investments that align with your business objectives.
Part of the process for onboarding an MSP should involve a 360-degree technology strategy review. A comprehensive review allows your provider to understand the inner workings of your environment, empowering them to make suggestions to improve any weaknesses or possible points of concern. This isn’t limited to just technical analysis but includes interviews with key stakeholders so that a customized approach can be developed to define your strategic technology roadmap. Managed services aren’t about a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s about a true understanding of your market, how you prioritize decisions, and ultimately, what your definition of success is.
Can they offer you the support you need when you need it?
Availability is critical – especially when you’re in a business that requires 24/7 uptime. Having remote support teams available to take incoming calls and address issues in real-time, as well as the ability to escalate to engineering teams, means everything.
Are they proactive in addressing your technology issues?
One of the biggest advantages of engaging with an MSP is the ongoing oversight of technology systems. Periodic maintenance updates, installing software patches, and staying aware of current cybersecurity threats are all critical to achieving desired business outcomes. Effective MSPs offer monitoring, alerting, management, and remediation of server and network-level issues. But truly exceptional providers take it a step further and are more proactive in their approach.
Take for example a recurring issue that requires remote support from the Help Desk of your MSP. It’s not enough to simply address the issue each time it comes up. Being truly proactive pushes the MSP toward root-cause analysis to solve the underlying issue that is causing a consistent problem.
What do their customers say about them?
When you’re evaluating MSPs and you get to a point where a lot of the service offering pieces look the same, one of the biggest differentiators can be referencing the work they’ve done with other clients. Whether they’re able to send written case studies or can provide a contact for you to speak with, it’s a strong testament when MSPs are able to produce testimonials that highlight their abilities, the strength of their partnership, and how they address real-time challenges.
Using these questions as a guideline for evaluating MSPs can give you a solid understanding of what these resources can do for your business and your bottom line. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask the questions that will help you make the right decision for an ongoing partnership.
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