It may sound simple enough to find an MSP (managed service provider) to outsource your work to, but carelessly Googling ‘MSPs in my area’ is unlikely to give you good results, despite the fact that you may find some decent looking businesses, many of which may be near to where you’re located.
It’s not that your average MSP is terrible, that’s not true at all. The issue is, the quality of an MSP is never guaranteed. Also, there are so many MSPs to choose from, most of which won’t be a perfect fit for your business. To give you a hand in your search, we’ve collated a list of tips that should aid you if you decide you’re interested in outsourcing. These tips should help you find an MSP you can maintain a healthy relationship with, and grow together.
Make sure your MSP and IT team can work together
There’s bound to be differences in opinion, methods of working, and some crossover of skills, whenever two totally separate teams of people are asked to work together – as is to be expected really. Luckily, reducing the amount of disagreements can be easier than you might expect. When searching for an MSP, keep an eye out for companies who are used to working with other IT teams, and want to work somewhere where each individual’s responsibilities and tasks are laid out clearly.
There are numerous benefits and drawbacks to choosing an MSP, or your own in-house team, but whichever you go for in the end, ensure your methods of accomplishing work are established early on.
Try to find out if your MSP has worked with companies like yours
This one’s straightforward – it’s always a good idea to make sure that any company you’re interested in working with has supported businesses like yours successfully in the past. These similar companies don’t have to be exactly the same as yours, but if an MSP hasn’t worked with a company which is either in the same industry, at the same stage of growth, or the same size, it might be best to avoid them.
Fitting a couple of the criteria we just mentioned is really quite crucial – it’s a good signifier that the MSP will know how to support your business, wherever it currently sits in the world of business. Don’t worry if they need a small amount of time to attune to how exactly your business does things – this is usually the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when looking for potential MSPs – straight up asking them which companies they’ve supported before can be a good idea. If you don’t want to be so direct, consider finding them on social media, such as Facebook or LinkedIn – these can be useful in showing a company’s history. Once you find out who they’ve worked with in the past, it can be worth contacting those companies to further investigate whether they’ll be right for you.
Ensure you have a strong service level agreement
Deciding on a Service Level Agreement – SLA – is something you’ll have to do if you choose to work with an MSP. This agreement is vital – working out a good agreement can be the difference between great success, and disappointing failure.
One option some businesses find success with is by making changes to an example agreement, but this is just one approach. There’s no true secret to coming to a good agreement, but it’s going to be worth the effort – at the end of the day, you’re deciding on your contract here, and a solid agreement is what it takes to ensure success for your company, and your MSP.
Find an MSP who stays ahead of the game
What would you rather happen to you: a) you arrive at the office ready to start the day, but find that key systems went offline overnight, or b) you arrive at the office, and find an email from your MSP, telling you how they discovered the problem and fixed it whilst you were sleeping? Considering the fact that a company can lose over 10,000 dollars for every hour they experience downtime, surely the choice is obvious.
Unfortunately though, not every MSP offers this kind of 24 hour service. Some need you to tell them whenever there is a problem, but there are some out there that are constantly looking over the network, ready to inform your staff when they find an issue. If your business would benefit from 24/7 support, you need to make sure you find an MSP who proactively keeps on top of things.
Find an MSP who can grow with you, and won’t be left behind
Once you have a few years under your belt of working with an MSP, they’ll be fairly weaved in with your business. It’s likely they’ll have supported you in many ways – helping you relocate, helping design interfaces and systems. They might even have been around helping you with very important decisions about your business’ future. It’s common for there to be complications when a relationship like this comes to an end – which is why it’s important to figure out whether your growth plans align with each other from the very beginning.
It’s likely that your MSP will have had a hand in the growth of your business. That’s just one of the reasons to stay with your MSP as your business grows, as well as helping avoid those aforementioned complications. Consider comparing your MSP’s 5 year plans with your own, see if their plans match yours. You’ll also want to find out if they’re prepared to handle unexpected events, negative or positive – you don’t want to sign a contract with an enormous client, only to find that your MSP can’t handle the scope of your plans.
Never underestimate how much influence IT can have for your success as a business. If you find that your plans outmatch a potential MSP’s, the best choice may well be finding another one. Ensuring you can grow together with a company that’s prepared to support your business in all the ways you need is vitally important.