From keeping up to date with security software, monitoring networks for general health, ensuring business continuity, and more – it’s no wonder that many organizations' IT departments are stretched thin by trying to provide an efficient work environment while protecting sensitive data.
Unfortunately (for your budget) IT has gone from a "necessary evil" in the business world to a serious differentiator and competitive advantage if utilized correctly. Most IT departments have fat to trim in one way or another, or the opposite - are not doing enough to ensure security and efficiency of their operations. One solution for this timeless dilemma is outsourcing by partnering with a skilled Managed Service Provider (MSP). Instead of an organization being responsible for all aspects dedicated to monitoring, protecting, and troubleshooting network and server issues, all or some of the daily responsibilities can be outsourced to an MSP. This is a strategic and forward-thinking way to improve IT operations and cut costs.
With so many MSP's out there, how does an organization know what to look for, or conversely, what not to look for when selecting a provider? Here are some examples of what not to do on your search for a managed services provider:
- Look for the cheapest solution: Every business has financial concerns and wants to remain under budget. However if a solution doesn't completely satisfy what the business needs, or if the MSP doesn’t address concerns or resolve problems - do not use them as a vendor, no matter what they are selling as the "value" of their services. And beware of fluctuating fees...make sure to outline a pricing structure before signing a contract.
- Use an out-of-the-box solution: Businesses have environment-specific servers and networks configured to work precisely to fit their needs, and have spent an exponential amount of time and money ensuring policies and procedures are in place pertaining to this environment. The absolute WORST thing an organization can do is use an out-of-the-box solution. Yes, they are easy to install, require no maintenance, and need no technical consulting. However, it will not integrate seamlessly with your environment and will almost certainly leaves holes.
- Relinquish complete control: They say that they have the knowledge and experience to provide all of the services that your business needs...that includes having complete control over your environment in a hosted cloud (that, by the way, you said you wanted). Trouble is, your network performance is actually worse than before...and you can't do anything about it because you've given up control of your environment. Not only is your performance down, but your clients are having problems accessing your site. You are being willfully held hostage by your IT provider. Too bad you signed a three year contract...
- Use a competitor’s vendor: If it’s good enough for them, it's good enough for me...? No sense asking questions either; your competitor probably vetted them already, so they're good. Don’t bother figuring out if their experience matches the specifications of your organization's environment or your advanced technology – maybe a deal with them will get you inside competive info? Not likely - and in the process you could overlook some significant shortcomings.
- Do not check references: While phone screening an MSP, they briefly discuss their processes and software that they use, assuring you it's "cutting edge." They seem trustworthy and are really friendly! Checking references for the experiences of other clients is probably a waste of time – or it could save your business from making a critical error in judgement.
- Do not sign a contract: It seems difficult to find a vendor to trust these days. So if a vendor indicates that they do not require contracts to be signed, and that the proverbial handshake should suffice, go ahead and accept their informally "formal" proposal. Plus, a contract is simply a waste of paper, and who reads them anyway?
Hopefully, in your quest for selecting the right MSP to outsource to, you as a business leader will not follow the points listed above. When selecting a vendor, carefully determine what is needed, research options thoroughly, and while you can trust, also verify independently.
If your business needs advice determining the right MSP solution, contact the experts at iCorps. We can provide customized solutions that will put your mind at ease and networks out of risk.