Questions Every SMB Should Ask When Evaluating IT Managed Services Providers
6/2/14 9:15 AM Jim Walsh
5 Considersations to Keep in Mind When Choosing the Right MSP
Almost every small to midsized businesses (SMBs) look for ways to address vital IT needs, without adding to its overhead costs. That’s where tapping into an IT managed services provider (MSP) can help accomplish both goals.
You know there are hundreds of managed services providers, promising you the moon. Also, every consulting firm, technology reseller, and consultancy is talking up IT managed services.
So how do you pick the MSP that’s right for you?
Here are five key considerations to keep in mind as you weed through the list of providers.
What’s the history of the MSP? Was its business previously focused on reselling and installing IT hardware solutions, but is it now transforming into a MSP to take advantage of this growing trend? It’s important to make sure that the company you hire has an IT services pedigree with a track record of solid client retention and knowledgeable consultants – experts who understands what it takes to keep your business up and running and offers a predictable IT spend model.
Does the MSP have its own command center? Some of the most valuable IT managed services offerings include backend data security and proactively updating security patches, being responsive to market demands, scheduled maintenance, network monitoring and reporting and helpdesk support. The best way for a MSP to deliver on these capabilities is to have its own network operation center or NOC.
What’s the MSPs relationship with the back-end solution provider? A good MSP will have direct access to hardware and software solutions like firewalls and disaster recovery vs. being dependent on third party support.
Does the MSP try to pitch everything as a managed service? Be wary if the provider positions every possible need as a managed services offering. Some solutions have a high degree of varying costs and are hard to offer under the MSP model. That said, there are numerous solutions that are ideal as managed services. Just remember, the managed IT services should solve pressing, succinct business needs, leverage vetted technology, and have predictable costs.
Can the MSP clearly explain what you will be getting under each program? There should be no hidden costs. The proposal should include fixed IT spending as well as approved and accounted for variable IT spending. The provider should make it easy for you to understand what you are getting for your investment.
Overall, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions of a potential MSP. As an SMB owner, you have to pick the MSP partner who can meet your business need, be proactive, and respond quickly to shifting IT needs.
It’s definitely worth the effort to learn about their history, in-house capabilities and get a clear explanation of the services you will receive for the amount you are paying.